Published in the Rains County Leader on August 11, 2022:
There was a time many years ago when making someone eat a bug was a bad thing. In fact, a song by Relient K called I’m Getting Nuttin’ for Christmas outlined reasons why Santa wouldn’t be visiting the singer that year. One of the reasons was because “I made Tommy eat a bug.” But times have changed.
As you may have guessed by the number of times I begin a column this way, I get a lot of my news from YouTube videos that are playing in the living room while I’m working in the kitchen. Last week I heard one in which a reporter was saying that the UK would be adding insects to the lunch menu of school children. I thought it had to be a joke, but I never heard a punch line, so I went to Google to check it out.
Sure enough I found an article on WesternStandard.New titled Insect meals worming their way onto British school kids’ lunch menus. It was written by Amanda Brown on June 7 of this year, and this was how it opened:
Published in the Rains County Leader on June 16, 2022:
Crawfish. The first thing I did before beginning this column was to Google the correct name for these strange looking creatures. According to those who are supposed to know, people north of the Mason-Dixon Line normally refer to these miniature lobsters as crayfish while residents of the West Coast, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and Kansas call them crawdads. But since I married a Louisiana boy where they are known as crawfish, that’s what I’ll go with.
Texas wasn’t mentioned in the blog post I used for reference, but in the era before organized play dates and yoga classes for kids, my friends and I sometimes went fishing for crawdads in the drainage ditch near my house. We’d sneak a piece of bacon out of the refrigerator, wrap it around a rock, tie a string to it, and troll the muddy waters. I don’t think we ever caught one – in fact, I don’t remember ever seeing one. I don’t have a clue what we would have done if we had caught one – but if it was good enough for Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn, it was good enough for us.
As an adult, I tend to avoid the unattractive critters. I love a good shrimp boil, but I don’t get excited when the local restaurants begin advertising that the crawfish are in. I did have some fried crawfish tails once which, as I recall, I enjoyed very much. But I don’t want those feelers and legs rising to the top of my bowl of gumbo or gracing my plate of jambalaya. Maybe it’s the eyes. I’ve had a couple of creepy experiences with the eyes of seafood.
Published in the Rains County Leader on August 17, 2021:
Big country breakfasts weren’t part of my childhood. Mom joined the work force when I started school, and with everyone in the family leaving the house for different destinations at different times, our morning meals usually consisted of a quick bowl of corn flakes or an over-well egg and a piece of toast that became a fold-over sandwich to be eaten on the run.
However, on Saturday mornings, Mom sometimes cooked breakfast. It wasn’t a real country breakfast because we never had gravy with our biscuits, and we didn’t waddle away from the table after having consumed several days’ worth of calories, carbs, and fat. But waking up to the smell of bacon frying was a real treat. And occasionally Dad would fix breakfast for dinner. Nothing elaborate – usually oatmeal and cinnamon toast – but special nonetheless.
A regular breakfast hasn’t been a part of my life as an adult either. My son wanted bacon, cereal, powdered sugar donuts, or some combination of the three – and his father’s breakfast consisted of Dr. Pepper and cigarettes. David would love to have a big breakfast every day, but cholesterol and weight issues make that a bad idea for both of us. For most of our life together, breakfast has been cereal with something more substantial thrown in for a special treat now and then.
Published by the Rains County Leader on July 27, 2021:
When was the last time you carried your lunch somewhere in a brown paper bag? I took my lunch to school most of the time, and it was usually in that simple sack. My mother was one of the few women I knew who worked outside the home, and since she had to leave earlier than Daddy, he usually packed my lunch. We didn’t eat much peanut butter at my house, but we had a lot of bologna and pickle loaf with tuna salad sprinkled in now and then. Sometimes if we were out of those, I’d get a sandwich made from leftover pot roast, meat loaf, or even scrambled eggs and bacon.
Some who grew up with more sophisticated lunches and fancy lunch boxes might think I was deprived, but if we were poor I didn’t know it. There was only once when I remember being embarrassed about my lunch. We were out of small paper bags, and this was before the era of plastic bags, so Daddy improvised. I took my lunch to school that day in an empty Kleenex box, and I thought I would die of shame!
When preparing my son Christian for Kindergarten, a lunch box was the first thing he picked out. He was a very picky eater, and if he had to eat away from home, he wanted to be sure his mom fixed his lunch. That worked until he entered fifth grade and began attending a school where he wasn’t allowed to bring a lunch. He was terrified until he learned that, in addition to a hot lunch line, they had a sandwich line which always included PB&J. He made it through six years at that school without starving, and he even expanded his tastes a little bit.
Published in the Rains County Leader on July 6, 2021:
While recently enjoying a grilled cheese sandwich, I was thinking about my odd habit of eating around the edges and saving the middle for last. As a child, I didn’t really care for bread crusts, so I would pull them off my sandwiches and leave them on my plate. One day I performed my little ritual at my Uncle Dean’s house, and he told me to eat the crusts because they would make my hair curly. I don’t know if I really wanted curly hair or if I was trying to please him, but I ate them. By that time they were pretty dry and tasteless, so the next time I had a sandwich, I ate the crusts first. By the way, it was six decades later when my hair finally became curly.
My lunch-time walk down memory lane led me to other odd sandwich habits in my family. Mom ate hers a row at a time like eating an ear of corn. As the sandwich disappeared, she was left with two inch-wide slices of bread that were very difficult to control with arthritic hands. And my daughter-in-law once informed me that when she makes a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for my son, she HAS to cut it diagonally because “that’s the way Mom did it.”
Of course, the writer in me went straight to Facebook to do some scientific research. I posted the above explanation and asked for responses about the sandwich quirks of other. Here’s the condensed version of those responses.
Last week David and I were introduced to Poke Salat or Pokeweed when several bags of it appeared on the “share table” at the Senior Center. At this time of the year, people bring excess produce from their gardens to share with friends. The first time I remember hearing about Poke Salat was when Elvis sang “Poke Salat Annie,” but the first time I saw it was last week.
The conversation that day was how to cook the “poisonous” weed to make it edible. I heard one lady say her mother boiled it seven times and poured off the water before she considered it safe. Everyone agreed that it was a tasty treat, but I wasn’t sure if it was worth the risk, so I Googled it. I found that, while the purple berries and roots are toxic, if the leaves are young and don’t have any tinges of purple, they are not toxic. I found a recipe that said to parboil once, pour off the water, and then finish by either boiling or frying. That sounded easy enough, so I took a small bagful home. (more…)
The story of a lonely, innocent girl who gets tangled up in the sex trafficking trade in a small Texas town. It’s about her relationship with Eric, a slick suburban pimp; Jesse, a Christian tattoo artist and motorcycle rider; and Mrs. G, a compassionate but tough attorney and foster parent.