An Ode to Daddy – HOT Breakfast!

Daddy, I woke up this morning to an incredibly blustery day, the house knocking about, wind whistling as tree branches beat up the windows.  Even snuggled in the bed I could feel the “closeness” and the humidity, and knew that it wasn’t cold outside even though it SOUNDED cold.  I knew when I opened the front door warm, moist air would accost me, and it did.

They say we have a lot of memory stored in our noses, and I’m a firm believer in that.  The sounds and smells of this morning brought me right back to late elementary school – 5th grade to be exact – and a rubber 2 sided raincoat with a hood…one side bright yellow, and the other a navy blue.  I remember being jealous of the other kids whose parents bought them “duck shoes”, but I loved my coat and was proud of it.

Then all of a sudden my memory switched to breakfast every school day made by either you or mom –depending on which shift you had worked the day before.  I started remembering the array of breakfasts you guys cooked to both satisfy your time constraints or keep from being bored…oatmeal (YUCK!) topped with put up homemade jams & jellys that we could stir in to make it sweet…scrambled eggs with diced onions & peppers (always with rye bread I seem to remember!), a fried egg with bacon and toast, Cheesetoast with half a grapefruit or orange (ALWAYS white bread and sharp cheddar), or the Frank Special: burnt, raw pancakes (yes, both can be accomplished at the same time).  I never wanted to hurt your feelings but I knew if I tried to eat them I would throw up, so I complained.  You were mad, but you took them back and threw them back in the frying pan.  To this day I love my pancakes crispy dark on the outside with just butter, no syrup, just like I did in elementary school.  Thank you both for giving us hot breakfasts every school day (and it has been proven since that this makes smarter kids), while everyone else I knew prepared their own cereal!  xoxoxoxoxoxo  What’s YOUR elementary school breakfast memory?  Post it here:

“Holiday Thanks to YOU (and Bojangles)!”

Happy Holidays everyone!  Just a week ago I was able to spend a minute or two with family in South Carolina for Thanksgiving.  Since the holidays are my busiest season, it’s particularly hard to make this visit at this time, but this year my mother’s health was failing and a Christmas visit  looked like a “no-go”.  So, once again, Over the River and Through the Woods I went.  Amazingly, this was one of the most pleasant drives I have ever had.  I had some of my favorite CD’s to sing along with (or screech along with, these days), and I had the thing that I am absolutely the most THANKFUL for right now…my 2000 Toyota Avalon with 200,000 miles on it.  She’s not as pretty as she once was, but she’s aging gracefully and in tip top shape (must be the trips to Jazzercise).  She can turn a mean corner and she sometimes sprouts wings.  She’s got great cup holders and her dashboard can be used as a buffet when necessary.  On this trip she served Bojangles Country Ham Biscuits, Bo-tatos and milk.  One of the things on my “look forward to” list for this trip.  I indulged both coming and going!

There are things I have looked forward to over the past 33 years regarding this trip (550 miles and so NOT worth it to fly with today’s rates/schedules – it takes as long to fly as drive!), and things I DON’T look forward to – in particular the drive itself.  One never knows whether there’s going to be snow or an ice storm or a wreck backing up traffic in the mountains for HOURS.  Over the years I have had to turn around and cancel the trip, I have had to pull off and stay the night in the only not so savory hotel available (that’s another blog and a gross one at that), and I have had to sit in a thankfully tanked up car for hours while wrecks are cleared.  I have even driven on solid sheets of ice (this happened in another Toyota – a Celica) in the “pull-over” lane to make up for lost time and get home to SC.  Ah, youth.   I am thankful I have never been a victim (my family would insist perpetrator) of a crash, but I have had to bear the consequences of other’s misfortune.

I promised Gordon I would be careful, and I was..I can be very careful at 75mph.  I am extremely watchful and always know what’s going on around me.  But the cars kept cruisin’ on by so 30 minutes into the trip I just said “screw it” and went with the flow…250 miles in 3 hours and 10 minutes.  You do the math.  Honey, please don’t ever mention this to me.  I was wearing my seatbelt.  Be grateful.  It’s that time of year.

I swear in 33 years I’ve never seen a highway patrolman until I hit the SC line, and then suddenly there are 10 laying in wait before I exit to my parent’s house.  This trip was a reversal, but the universe was with me.  The first gauntlet was in Kentucky north of Lexington, 7 sets of blue lights within 5 miles.  The second gauntlet was in Tennessee with 5 “blue light specials” within 2 miles.  Thankfully, I survived both.  With Cake in the CD Player and nary a thought of inventory, to do lists, chopping or stirring, I began to relax for the first time in months.  With relaxation, comes a drifting of the mind…and I was suddenly at a Barbra Streisand concert (a lifelong dream) and tearing up at simply the prospect of breathing the same air that she would breathe…stop rolling your eyes please.  I’ll just BET you have a secret weird fantasy.  I shivered at the thought of her brilliance and passion for life and the sheer genius of her being.  I thought to myself, “if only we all committed to ourselves and our passions the way she does”, and I realized, in one “a ha” moment (thank you Oprah) that I was slipping a little bit in my own life.  I swore once, about 10 years ago after a period of professional burnout, that I would NEVER allow myself to lose the love for what I do again.  I would NEVER allow myself to become so enmeshed in the idea of success, or more, or the thought of the next great opportunity, that I would lose my passion for what I do, and THAT is cooking for YOU.

What is life if it is not passion and love?  It’s mere existence.  It’s taking up space and breathing valuable air.  It’s amazing what taking a little break and a little time away from the things (and people!) you love will do for your commitment to those things.  In my case, 7.5 tiny little hours. So…in closing, I’d like to thank the participants of my 2014 Turkey Day (which happened the day after so I could actually GET there):

My sister Angela (aka Angie; Gigi) – a fabulous meal.  I want the Asparagus recipe.

My daddy Franklin – moist turkey, creamy EPIC whipped potatoes, and DUKES  (oh, and biscuits & gravy J )

My mom Margie – for being just foggy enough to allow daddy to have a dog, and to LOVE him (no WAY!)

My brother Gerry – for his stillness, his kindness, his “warmth” and his Larceny.

My brother Michael (woops, Mike) – for his white knuckles (and his density – he won’t get that), and his re-“fine” ment.

My sister in law Susan – for being the loveliest Southern Belle I know.

My nephew Michael – for his humour.  “Howdy”, Michael.

My clients and friends (this year someone cooked for ME, YAY!)  – I carry you with me in my heart.  Why else have a heart?

Honey – I missed you, and it felt good.