Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Food Does SO Equal Love!

I really like to cook.  What makes it even better is when people I love like to EAT what I cook.  I heard from a counselor one time that food does not equal love.  Um-hmm.  I think that's when I stopped believing him.  Okay, maybe it shouldn't equal love, but for me, as for many of you, it surely does!

Kind of unfortunately for me, I live in a rapidly shrinking household.  Once the fall semester begins, my husband and I will officially be "empty-nesters".  Our four children have gradually been leaving us to head off to college, and the two of us really don't eat all that much.  Even with our youngest daughter Rachel still at home, we don't eat all that much.  She has a very small appetite to go with her petite body, and while my husband has a large appetite, it is not always for the things I like to make.  He goes for the low-fat, low-sugar, low-taste type of food, while I like to make good old fashioned FOOD!  So, a lot of my enthusiasm for cooking lavish meals is wasted.

Until Michelle comes home for the summer.

Michelle is a VERY enthusiastic eater. She is great to cook for, because almost everything I make, she can't wait to eat (unless it has mushrooms or clams in it).  It makes it SOOO much fun to cook for someone who actually roars and attacks their food as if it is prey and they are a large and hungry dinosaur!

Michelle is working two jobs so that she can return to college in the fall. When Michelle gets home from her first job, which is very physical, she is hungry.  However, she has been rushing off to her second job so quickly that she hardly has a chance to eat dinner (just something scarfed down in the car) and has been very hungry later on.  What makes it worse for her is that at night she is a server at a popular restaurant chain that serves breakfast 24-hours a day-- I HOPe you can figure out where I'm talking about!  She has a particular favorite on the menu, and whenever someone orders it, she has confessed that she sometimes fantasizes about eating it on the way to their table.  Thus far she has refrained, as she realizes this is not a good tip-getting practice and she likes to get good tips.  She told me that last night she was ravenous, and a customer noticed her looking longingly at her food and commented on it.

Well.  This should not happen.

So, tonight while Michelle was in the shower cleaning off her cotton-field dirt from her day job, I decided to make Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Pancakes for her. She was so excited!  This is only the second time we have attempted this recipe, and since I have not actually eaten the restaurant version I don't know if they are the same, but Michelle tells me they are similar.  She ate four, along with four pieces of bacon (nice to have a 20-year-old metabolism, huh?) and should be able to look at any plate of food with detachment for the rest of the night!

For those who may be interested, I am including the recipe (which I have already altered from the original!).

Chocolate Chocolate-Chip Pancakes*

1 c. all-purpose flour
1/3 c. cocoa powder
¼  c. sugar
½  tsp. baking soda
½  tsp. salt
1 cup milk
1 egg
2 tbsp vegetable oil
½ c. chocolate chips
Powdered Sugar, whipped cream, chocolate chips, and chocolate syrup for topping

In medium bowl, combine flour, cocoa, sugar, baking soda and salt. Add milk, egg, and oil. Whisk until well blended.   Stir in chocolate chips. The batter may be slightly lumpy (and not just from the chocolate chips!).  Heat griddle to medium-high.  Once hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter per pancake on griddle.  Flip once batter is set around edges. Cook until baked through.  Immediately after pancakes are cooked, sprinkle chocolate chips so they start to melt, then sprinkle with powdered sugar, top with whipped cream, and drizzle with chocolate syrup.
Makes about 8  4-inch pancakes.
*Similar to IHOP Chocolate Chip Pancakes

Warning:  This dish is not suitable for diabetics, dieters, or most adults! Eating too many can result in fatal levels of satisfaction and fullness. The faint of heart may not survive.  

Funny (but true!) side story:  One of Michelle's customers of the young, male variety ordered these pancakes as well as a large omelet.  He was with three friends, also guys, and when Michelle came around to see if any of them needed take-home boxes, he said he might need one for his pancakes-- he was getting pretty full. Both Michelle and one of his so-called friends called him a pansy, with Michelle asserting that she could eat them, and insinuating that his manhood was in question. The poor guy managed to choke them down, Michelle granted that he was indeed a man, and the four of them left her a great tip!  :)

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Good 'Ole Days

I have been thinking of some of the things I remember from when I was a small child.  There aren't many memories there, but the ones I have are interesting, in an odd way.

One of my first memories is being with my mom. She tells me this happened when I was three, and it's a little vague.  I remember we went out on the porch to eat tacos, and I thought it was the coolest thing ever!  It's funny, because the "porch" was one of those that is a concrete slab just big enough for the screen door to open out on to, with maybe three steps leading up to it.  We put a TV tray out there and ate.  Fun times!

Another memory comes from that same time period.  My mom was taking me to preschool, and I was all excited because I had new slippers for nap time.  I had the old ones on one side of me on the seat and the new ones on the other side.  I remember that I was demanding that my mom look at my slippers on the seat next to me, and then suddenly we were being pulled over by a policeman.  Sometime later I remember sitting and coloring in a courtroom next to my mother.  It wasn't until I was an adult that I found out that it wasn't my fault that my mom got pulled over!  I had thought that I distracted her with my slippers.  Turns out, the car she had bought from someone was stolen (she didn't know!), and the policeman behind her had recognized it or something.  Funny how children blame themselves for things!

Another car memory:  I was sitting in the front seat (no car seats back then!) and I remember that I loved to sit up front with my mother.  I couldn't see out, I was too small.  The dashboard seemed so high and the glove box was at eye level for me. My mom and I were coming home from somewhere, and were close to home.  She turned a corner, and my door swung open!  I fell out! (No seatbelt laws then, either!)  Of course, my mother stopped and ran back and picked me up.  I was fine, just a little scraped on the elbow, but there were no band-aids in the car, which I thought was too bad.  The worst part of it, for me, was that I had to sit in the back seat after that, because that door stayed shut!  I think it was far worse for my mother, really.

When I was five I began to live with my dad and step-mom.  One of the neat things about where we lived for a while was the lemon tree in the back yard (this was in California).  I loved that lemon tree!  For one thing, sometimes my mama would let me pick a lemon and she would cut it in half and give me a bowl with a little sugar in the bottom and I would dip the lemon in the sugar and suck all the juice out.  Mmm!  I still love lemonade.... Another great thing about the lemon tree was the slugs.  Great huge fat ones lived in it, and I would find them and play with them.  I liked to make grass houses and decorate them with flowers and put the slugs in them.  Too bad the slugs did not appreciate my efforts!  And it's also too bad that we have to grow up.  There is no way you would catch me playing with slugs these days, but back then an afternoon with the slugs was always loads of fun!!

The summer I was six, I managed to break my arm.  I was playing with some friends and one of the boys had caps for a cap gun.  We were pounding them with rocks to make them go off while sitting on a low wall.  Once in a while, Randy, the lucky cap owner, would let me bang on one.  He dropped a roll and I decided to jump down and be all helpful and get them for him (maybe he would let me have some more!) but I neglected to remember that I was kneeling and one cannot jump well from that position.  I launched myself into space after the caps (it was only about three feet up from the ground) and landed face first, and with my arm under me.  My mama heard the shriek from inside and came running out.  I remember that it was hard to get her to understand that it was not my face that hurt, even though it was pretty scratched up, but my arm.  Finally she understood and we went to the hospital.  When we came home, I was the proud owner of a cast.  With the cast and my scratched up face and my missing teeth (NOT a result of jumping off the wall-- I was just six) I looked like a real troublemaker! The best thing about it was my mama felt so bad she let me eat a whole can of Spaghettios instead of half a can--which I could not finish, being only six!  I spent the summer keeping my cast out of water, which was really not fun, and got it off the first day of first grade, in the morning, so I was late for school.  But I was sure happy to get that cast off! (That's me on the first day of first grade, in the picture on the right, with my cast kind of hidden!)

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Perchance to Dream

I had a really odd dream recently. I was with a girl who had just discovered she had awesome super powers, but who was really stupid. She could morph into a bird-like creature and fly, and also a sort of a dolphin. Some bad guys were after her, though, and I was trying to protect her. She kept leaping into the air and soaring around, or diving into the water to be a dolphin, laughing and squealing in a carefree manner, heedless of the danger that I felt lurking everywhere, and I was very nervous. Plus I had to go to prom. And I was going with a guy who was insisting on wearing a dress, so I was quite disturbed about that. I didn’t even like the guy! My dream ended with me getting my prom dress off of a long rack of dresses (it was a deep blue dress, and quite pretty!) and worrying about both the silly blonde girl and my date.

Where do dreams like this come from? It has been a very long time since I went to prom, and I don’t actually know anyone who can fly like a bird or swim like a dolphin. I mean, I don’t think I am a disturbed person in my waking life, just in my dreams!

It got me to thinking about other strange dreams I have had.

When I was pregnant with my second child, I dreamed that I went to see my midwife for a check- up. She removed the baby (it HURT!), examined her, said, “Nope, not done yet”, and put her back in. I was crushed. She did end up arriving two weeks late, so maybe it was a sign!

Another set of bad dreams I had as a child were actually recurring nightmares. Have you ever had those? I don’t recommend it! In one, I was in the very back of our family’s teal Volkswagen Beetle (we called that spot the “way-back” and I LOVED to ride back there--this was before seatbelt laws). My mom and dad were in the front seats, and my dad was driving somewhere. We went up a LOOOOONG grassy hill, and they stopped at the house at the top. I was asleep (yet totally aware), and so they got out and left me sleeping in the way-back. The car started rolling backwards down the hill, going faster and faster, and there was nothing I could do. That’s when I would wake up.

I think I was around five years old when I had this dream, and I had it several times.

Another nightmare was very strange. I was in the woods with my mom. We got to the edge of a large, newly paved area that was totally surrounded by trees, and she had to send me across to my dad, who was waiting on the other side. She put me on a magic carpet, which started flying me across the new asphalt, but only about a foot above the pavement. The problem was, there were tar sharks swimming in the asphalt, and they were trying to get me. Yes, TAR SHARKS! I was rightfully terrified, with those tar sharks leaping and snapping and trying to eat me. Fortunately, I finally made it to the other side, although just barely. The magic carpet ran out of steam just about a foot past the paving and as I ran to my daddy, one lunged out of the tar onto shore, snapping at my heels.

I had this dream several times, also, at about the same time as the rolling-down-the-hill-backwards dream.

The last recurring nightmare that I remember was also when I was five.

I was in the house where my family lived, and there was a witch who was coming to get me. My daddy and mama hid me in the way-back of the car (see how important it was to me?) and covered me with a blanket. The witch didn’t find me that night, but later I was walking by her house, and fell into the drainage ditch that ran in front of it. I was swept down into a little room that was full of other children who had gotten caught there. It was a stark, square, white room, and there were probably around ten children in it. A couple of children were dead, and most were in an extreme state of emaciation. As I realized that there was no way out, I would wake up.

So apparently I WAS a disturbed little child! Also very insecure. I am glad that I don’t have those dreams anymore.

On to other disturbing topics:  Here is a picture of me in the protective gear that I SHOULD have worn for my lawn-mowing escapades last week.  I tried to get my husband to pose, but he's not into public humiliation.  Anyway, I look pretty hot, right?