Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Memories of Food

Some of you know I have been entering videos for the Paula Deen - Real Women of Philly Contest...and she ask us to share our first cooking experience and I honestly cannot remember it but I do have memories of food and below are some of those,,,I would love to hear yours so let me hear from you.

Food…it comforts us, it sustains us, and it brings us together. It seems that many of my most memorable moments in life have an aspect of food attached that I can remember…but the strange thing is …I can’t remember my first cooking experience and ladies, I’m not that old. These memories are both glorious and heartbreaking and still hurt my very soul to remember and to be quite honest; I do not care to have that particular food anymore. That is how powerful memories and cooking can be. The first memory that I have of food was eating watermelon when I was young…now you know you are country when your daddy buys a big watermelon and it becomes a family event. Every summer when the first ones would appear at the fruit stands my daddy would buy one and we would call all the cousins and granny to come over and eat it. Us kids ran all over the yard with watermelon juice staining our faces and what clothes we still had on…it was hot in the Summer Mountains. The next memories of food were when it would come November and it was hog killing time (I know that sounds harsh but remember my ancestors were farmers and the land kept them alive). I did not participate in the butchering part but boy I loved the taste of that fresh tenderloin. Other memories included going ginseng digging with my granny. When dinner time came around (that’s what she called lunch) we would find us a cool spot in the woods and she would open up a mason jar filled with pinto beans she had left over from supper (that’s what she called dinner) pieces of cornbread, fresh tomato, cucumber, and onion. Nothing tasted any better. Of course there were the holidays and breakfast at my granny’s house. She cooked on a wood cook stove until she passed away. You have not tasted biscuits or gravy until you had tasted my granny’s. Blackberry cobblers, blueberry cobblers all fresh because we picked them. I have a few scars to prove it. There were also times of sorrow that resonate in my memory and pull along smells and tastes. I was eight years old and my momma was in the kitchen frying chicken. I remember she had flour all over her hands. The phone rang and she received the news that her 28 year old brother, my uncle had been killed. The phone dropped and so did she. That was a dinner never finished. I can still see the grease bubbling up in the frying pan. Food has been in my blood you might say. I am from a great family of cooks, old fashioned cooks and my style of cooking is not what my granny would have done and she probably would not even like it very much. My background is humble. I can’t quilt or knit which are also parts of my heritage, but I can cook and I believe in the power of cooking- it brings people together and loves them up really good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Love for a Daughter

Eighteen years ago my life changed with the birth of my daughter Erika. Now I know that is the case with any new changes or it should because you have been given a priceless gift that requires your devotion. However, Erika required more...and I don't feel bad about that. It was November 15th around 8 in the morning and my water broke- I was a bit nervous because she was not due until December 12th and I was not ready but guess what ...ready or not here Erika came. I was in labor for 18 hours and it was not bad at all-and I had her without and epidural. I had a normal pregnancy with no problems and no one knew that she had down syndrome- I was only 24 so I did not have the risk factors usually associated with having a downs baby.

The minute she was born she did not cry, she just looked around and when they placed her into my arms and I looked into those pools of dark brown- I knew she was special. I did not know at the time that she did not have the energy to cry - her little heart would not let her. Of course I was heart broken- I knew what children with disabilities went through- I had no idea what she would be able to do. Again, I was heartbroken. I wanted my daughter to have the future I had always imagined and I knew that was not going to be the case.

We went home after 2 days in the hospital and I still was unaware of any heart defect. I took her back to the dr. to confirm the downs diagnosis and that is when the doctor discovered her heart condition- WOW! the next 3 months were a whirlwind of emotions. Long story short : Erika was 6 lbs 2 oz when she was born and at 3 months she was only 7 lbs - she was not thriving and needed open heart surgery or she would not live. Once again my heart was broken but I no longer felt sorry for myself for having a downs baby- I prayed to God that he would save my baby.

We spent several weeks at Duke University and they did an amazing job with Erika- her heart was repaired. Now you see why I have to be a Duke fan!

The next few years of her life were hard- she was sick alot with respiratory issue and in and out of the hospital but she grew stronger each year. School was hard - I had to fight for her a few times but it was worth it. She has meant so much to the kids at school that have known her- and I have had many people say - they think her class is more empathic because they have known Erika.

Having said all this - I just wanted to share that this precious precious child went to her Junior prom last night and was beautiful...the heart that would not let her stay awake long enough to drink her bottle when she was a baby... allowed her to dance 2 straight hours last night.

She danced like no one was watching...and did not care what others thought...she did not postpone joy...and lit up the room with her presence.

What a journey!!!!and I look forward to more!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Apple Pie and I am Sorry

Do you ever get in a bad mood? I mean a really bad mood? Things that don't normally bother you ...seem to drive you crazy and you stew and stew until you want to blow your top! Well I had just one of those days last week. Life got hectic- we had to have a new roof put on our house (it is an cottage/farm house that is about 80 years old and it needed a new roof). When the builders started tearing off the old shingles they found much work that needed to be done and $9000.00 it was done beautifully - just more money than we had anticipated. The next thing was a situation with my ex husband that I do not even want to discuss. It seems that the events just kept piling up and it made me grumpy and caused me to have a poor outlook on life and not be so nice to people around me (friends and family). Now having said this - I have reflected upon that bad day and feel terrible. Things like this poison my soul -they really do - I also am thinking if I took my last breath today - what would my son remember most ( a grouchy, petty mom)that is certainly not what I want. So this is my declaration: I am going to live my life as if my children are modeling their lives after mine. I want to be a friend to all and offer a helping hand when I can and even when I can't.

So if I hurt your feelings last week or made you feel sad - please forgive me and have a slice of this delicious apple pie. Love, Me!

•8 ounce(s) of Philadelphia cream cheese (softened)
•1/4 cup(s) of brown sugar
•1 tsp. of pumpkin pie spice
•1 can of apple pie filling
•1/2 chopped apple
•1 tsp. of lemon juice
•2 tbsp. of brown sugar
•1/2 cup(s) of chopped pecans
•1 cup(s) of sharp cheddar cheese (shreadded)
•1 9 inch deep dish pie shell
1.Bake pie shell according to package directions about 10 minutes and let cool
2.Mix cream cheese, brown sugar and pumpkin pie spice at medium speed until blended
3.Spread cream cheese mixture in pie crust
4.Top cream cheese mixture with apple pie filling
5.combine chopped apple, lemon juice, remaining 2 tbsp. brown sugar and nuts together and spoon on top of apple pie filling
6.Cover top of pie with sharp cheddar cheese
7.Place under broiler until cheese melts for about 1 minute (watch carefully so it will not burn)

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Happy Mother's Day

My Mother’s Love

My mother’s love
Has seen me through the best and the worst of times

When Sadie Abernathy laughed and said my eyes were funny,
And I go picked last for kickball again,
And I forgot my only line in the second grade pageant,

My mother’s love enfolded me

When I built a house of cards that stood for twelve minutes,
And I was elected sixth-grade class president,
And I put an airplane model together all by myself,

My mother’s love celebrated with me

When Danielle O’Connor broke my heart,
And I missed the basket that would have clinched the finals,
And our dog Tiger didn’t wake up one morning,

My mother’s love grieved with me

They say that cries for Mother
Can be heard on the battlefield
Long after a war has ended

And I ask you…

Is it any wonder?

The spelling "Mother's Day" was trademarked in 1912 by Mother's Day International Association founder Anna Jarvis, who was very specific about the apostrophe, as she wanted to make sure the day was for each family to honor their specific mothers, not just a broad celebration of all mothers.

Though the modern traditions of the holiday (card and flower gifts) began in the United States, Mother's Day is celebrated throughout the world on a number of different dates.

I never understood the love that my own mom had and has for me until I had my first born. I remember well the night after Erika was born. I was experiencing a number of emotions from her birth. It was only she and I in the room because everyone else had gone home, and as I held my sweet baby girl in my arms and looked into her dark peaceful eyes I suddenly was overcome with how much my mom loved me. I called her at that very moment and thanked her. Our mother’s may not be perfect and might make mistakes but we do too with our own children, so love them with all your heart and cherish the time you have because many are wishing they had their mom’s on this Mother’s Day! Enjoy this tribute to all Mother’s:

Lessons from the Master

Once when Mom was hurting,
I felt all squishy inside
No one told me that moms cry sometimes

I climbed into her lap
And clasped my arms around her neck

Then I patted her back
And whispered that it would be okay
Just like she does when I’m hurting

She must have forgotten how well it works 

Note to God

Mom always tells us that even though
We didn’t grow in her tummy we grew in her heart

That God planned for us to be a family
Long before the world began;
And that our birthmothers were part of that plan too

We were talking it over the other day
And we’ve decided that even though
Mom didn’t grow in our tummies

(We’re still trying to figure out where she did come from)

She must have been growing in our hearts all along
Because no she’s ours forever
And we wouldn’t have it any other way

Note to God: Nice Work!


Up in the attic, opening your boxes
Of war letters
Old Christmas card
And forgotten photos

You’re everywhere

Out in the garden, handling your tools,
Uprooting stubborn weeds,
Raking back the soft earth
And planting some lilacs,

You’re everywhere

Down in the kitchen, following your recipe,
Measuring the spices
Layering the casserole
And setting the timer

You’re everywhere

I reach for the phone to call you
Before remembering ….you’re gone

What you’ve left behind
It a legacy I couldn’t understand before

I understand now

And I’m blessed to day
And so thankful, mom
That even though you’re gone
You’re still right here

You’re everywhere!

All poems written by Steven Layne

Monday, May 3, 2010

Mornings in the Mountains

I wrote this little story because I love mornings - and I strated thinking about all the chracteristics of the morning and wanted to share my thoughts. I hope you enjoy it.

Smoky Mountain Mornings

Mornings are unique.
Mornings are different.

Morning lights the streets of Venice Italy with a golden glow.
As the street vendors open their shops, smells of fresh breads, pastries and flowers fill the air.

An Alaskan morning may not arrive for a long time. A very long time, and when it finally does, morning stays awhile.

Mornings by a New England seaside are vast and mysterious. The wind is wet as the sun rises in the great divide between the heavens and the sea.

But…in the Smoky Mountains, mornings are the grandest of all. Mist wraps the mountain tops and valleys in a translucent softness.

Dew has settled on the spider’s weaving making the nightly creations look like diamond jewels cast off as night has gone to sleep.

And in between the valleys lie sleepy little towns whose mornings are like a favorite, comfortable memory. The traffic moves slow, when it moves at all. Streetlights go out one by one as dawn sweeps across the sidewalks. The smell of coffee brewing seeps under cracks of old wooden doors that have memories all on their own.

In the deepest, darkest parts of the Smoky Mountains- mornings are quiet. Mornings are mysterious. Shards of bright light perforate the boughs of the tallest, strongest pines.

Mornings in the Smoky Mountains beckon small animals into places the day will not allow.

Mornings in the Smokies cast a particular spell on early seekers, as it glides across gentle hills and jagged mountains.

Ordinary sunrises transform into extraordinary events-throwing off bright yellows and pale pinks.

Mornings glow and illuminate until all traces of a velvety night have disappeared.

Mornings in the Smokies have followed lasting winters, summers, autumns and springs in a most splendid way.

Mornings are unique. Mornings are different.