Posted tagged ‘Chicken’

“Smells are so powerful and evocative, sometimes stronger than visual cues.”

January 28, 2018

This is day 4 of the wash watch!

Earlier this morning I heard the rain and decided to turn over and get back to sleep. I slept for almost two more hours. Now I can face the rain.

Maddie is much better. I suspect the boneless chicken thighs I cooked for her worked miracles. She ate quite a bit yesterday and also ate all the pieces I had left on her plate when I went to bed. She is now meowing at me in her usual indignant voice. I’m even glad for that.

I have to go to the dump as I didn’t yesterday, and it is closed Mondays through Wednesdays. It won’t be busy in the rain .

I often buy flowers in the winter. My senses beg for stimulation. My eyes need colors. I just get so tired of grays and browns. I want vivid yellows and oranges. My nose craves the sweetness of flowers to combat the air in the house which gets stale from closed windows and doors. The Christmas tree helped for a while, and I was so sorry when its time had ended. I also burn candles, but nothing terribly sweet. I prefer aromas like apples, balsam and spices like cloves and cinnamon. I wonder about the candles with strange aromas. Who decided what Sweet Nothings or a Calm and Quiet Place smell like? I’m also curious about Sun-Drenched Apricot Rose. What does sun-drenched smell like especially when added to apricots and roses. I’m thinking maybe sweat.

I am getting forgetful; it’s a matter of aging. My word retrieval skills are blunted. I get distracted and forget what I wanted in the first place. Mnemonics have become my best friends, and I use my mother’s trick of going through the alphabet. Most times that works. My spelling skills often take a vacation. I wonder about the spelling of a word, and the longer I look, the stranger the word looks. I could use spell check but that only makes it worse.

It always amazes me that I am the age I am. I don’t feel old. I don’t think old. At least as far as I can remember.

“And people who don’t dream, who don’t have any kind of imaginative life, they must… they must go nuts. I can’t imagine that.”

January 6, 2018

The sun is shining and the sky is blue. Both are tempting me to get out of the house, but I’m not going to take the bait. It is freezing and no sun or blue sky will help. I did go out with Gracie as she is quite unsteady. When she was done, we both hurried inside to the warmth. I gave Gracie and Maddie chicken this morning as Gracie didn’t eat her dog food yesterday and only had a little the day before. I got worried that she isn’t eating, but she did manage to eat all the chicken, a Christmas snowman biscuit and a beef treat. She is fine, just picky.

I gave in and did two loads of laundry yesterday and brought up a load which has been sitting in the dryer since Christmas. I didn’t bring up either of the new loads, but I did take them out of the dryer and fold them. I also put away more Christmas. The snowmen and the tree remain, and there are boxes in the kitchen which need to go down stairs but not yet. The ornament box has to be at the bottom of the pile.

Tonight will be an actual 0˚. I don’t know how much cold the wind chill will add. Winter is having its way.

For some reason, I have been a night owl of late. I don’t really mind as I can sleep in or I can set Alexa for an alarm if I have to be somewhere. Most nights I keep busy by puttering around the house, playing on the computer, reading or watching TV. Last night it was mostly reading.

Winter seems the season for dreaming. We are stuck inside, victims of the weather, and our minds take us worlds away. I plan trips, even check out flights. That I haven’t the money never limits the planning. I read through recipes and choose menus for dinners I will probably never give. It’s the fun of the hunt which draws me. I make a list of summer party themes and think about the decorations. I read adventure novels, science fiction and mysteries. The other sorts I leave for summer when the world is bright.

I keep my travel documents and even my shots up to date. You never know if someone might knock on the door and tell me to grab my passport and let’s go. I’ve seen it in the movies, and I want to be ready.

“It was Sunday morning, and old people passed me like sad grey waves on their way to church.”

October 15, 2017

I’m wondering where the sun is hiding. The day is damp and cloudy. It’s a quiet day, no breeze rustles the leaves and no voices are loud enough to be heard. I have to go out and do a couple of errands later and tonight is game night. That’s like a full day for me.

When I was a kid, the expectations for Sunday were pretty much nonexistent. It was a nothing day much the same week after week. It started with church. The only unknown was which mass I’d attend. Would I go early with my dad, the usher, or later by myself or with my brother? Sunday dinner was the biggest meal of the week. It was always a roast, sometimes a roast beef and other times a whole chicken. It was the one meal all week where we all sat down to eat together though my mother sometimes stood by the counter to eat. On weekdays my dad was late getting home from work so he was never there for dinner. We were usually watching TV when he got home.

Once in a while, on a Sunday afternoon, we visited my grandparents in the city. I was amazed by the city. Houses were close together. The Italian bakeries sold pizza. A house down the street sold Italian ice through an open window. On the corner of my grandparents’ street was a private club. My uncle was a member. I remember going there once for a family party.

If we didn’t go out to visit, we’d sit around watching TV until my dad took over and turned to a football game. That sent us to the kitchen to play a board game or down the cellar to play. If I had a book, I’d go read it in my room away from the noise. My mother cooked in the kitchen. She peeled potatoes and opened cans of vegetables. We usually ate around two. Most times there was no special dessert. We’d grab cookies.

Sunday night we’d watch a bit of TV then it was early to bed because of school the next day. We always grumbled. That never got us anywhere except upstairs to bed at our regular time.

“Never complete. Never whole. White skin and an African soul.”

November 4, 2016

If I pulled out that dusty old dictionary of mine and looked up autumn, I’d find it is a noun defined as,”the third season of the year, when crops and fruits are gathered and leaves fall, in the northern hemisphere from September to November and in the southern hemisphere from March to May.” The words in the definition just aren’t enough. What about autumn’s almost indefinable beauty? What about autumn’s colors, its cool, sometimes cold nights, and its warmer mornings? What about a perfect autumn day? Well, I’ve got that one covered: today is the perfect autumn day. The sun is bright. The sky is deep blue but has a few wispy clouds for contrast. The air is warm, long sleeve shirt warm. A slight breeze is enough to drop the brown leaves off the boughs of the oak trees. They slowly flutter to the ground as if they know their time is done. Today is a day to be out and about.

I met two former students the other day. We did the pleasantries and caught up with one another. I met one’s baby and another’s nine year old. They asked what I was doing to stay busy. I described my life as a sloth and I mentioned traveling. They wanted to know where. “Africa,” I told them. “Wow,” was the response from each of them and both mentioned how exciting Africa must have been. I told them about the elephants. Seeing those elephants was nothing short of amazing for me, and they thought seeing elephants had to be the coolest thing.

Those conversations got me thinking. Elephants and game parks aside, going back to Ghana is almost commonplace for me. Were I to go to Mali or Botswana, I would think of each as an unbelievable trip to Africa. Ghana is going home. It is familiar again. I get to see my former students, and we are at ease with each other, the sort of ease which comes from years of friendship. I am not surprised by what I see. The rooster wakes me up, but I can always go back to sleep. I enjoy goat and Guinea fowl as much as beef or chicken. I know Ghanaian food is spicy hot and best eaten with my hand. I am adept at noticing and walking over deposits left by goats and sheep on the streets, the walkways and in the market. All the smells are Ghana to me. Ghanaians smile at me, and I smile back. I even greet them in Hausa and a bit of FraFra.

Though Bolgatanga is bigger and far busier, I just think of it as home. It being in Africa is merely serendipitous.

“There is no sincerer love than the love of food.”

August 15, 2016

My doors and windows are open. I have rejoined the world if only for a while. There is a breeze coming from the north, the window behind me, keeping the den cool, and the sun is still working its way around so it’s also dark. The weather report is for heat but less humidity so I’m taking advantage and giving the house some fresh air before the onslaught of the heat.

My life of late has been boring. Staying inside the house doesn’t make for adventure, for stories. I do have to go to the dump, but that’s not a plot line for a good story. It’s just trash.

My neighborhood is quiet. I have no idea where the kids are. There are 9 of them on this street. I’m thinking it’s difficult to hide them all. Perhaps their parents are using gags and tricking the kids into thinking it’s a game. When you’re little you believe everything your parents tell you. That’s why I didn’t eat Chinese food until I was around ten or eleven.

I’ve tried salmon a couple of times but I still don’t like it. It’s the only fish I haven’t liked. No respectable fish is pink and why don’t you pronounce the l?

I make a great chili. It is a recipe from my brother-in-law. In his recipe, Rod has beans listed. For my copy, he also has a footnote: if making chili for me, don’t add the beans. I have never made chili with beans. My defense is that real chili has no beans.

I eat a lot of chicken. It’s not all that expensive and chicken recipes number in the millions. I like chicken thighs and think they are the tastiest part of the chicken.When I go out for a casual dinner, I usually order a cheeseburger.

When I go out for a casual dinner, I usually order a cheeseburger with onion rings on the side, but one pub where I eat doesn’t make onion rings at night, only during lunch, so I order French fries. I don’t eat my fries with ketchup; instead, I dip them in mayonnaise. I seldom use salt, but I do salt my fries. They seem to taste better that way.

My mother told us stories about World War II and rationing. She said they seldom got butter so they used oleo instead. It was white but it came with packets of yellow to make it butter-like. When I was a kid, my mother never bought oleo. Having it in the war was enough for her; instead, she always bought butter. My sisters and I still do.

I remember a lunch at a friend’s house.  She made sandwiches with salmon and dessert with peaches. I ate both of them out of courtesy. It rates as the worse lunch in my memory drawers.

“Grilling, broiling, barbecuing – whatever you want to call it – is an art, not just a matter of building a pyre and throwing on a piece of meat as a sacrifice to the gods of the stomach.”

July 23, 2016

The doors and windows are open just to change the air. It is already hot, and the house is up to 73˚. When it hits 74˚, the air conditioner will be back on to keep the house cool. Nothing is stirring not even a leaf. It is a quiet Saturday morning. I do hear bird calls but no cars and no kids.

In a bit I have to start getting ready for movie night. I have to bring up the projector, the table and the screen. They are in the cellar but will be stored under the dining room table for the season. Already, on the counter, are some ingredients I need for dinner. I’m using my lazy Susan for the condiments. I’ll cook the peppers and onions ahead of time then reheat them for dinner. There are three different kinds of sausages. There’s also cole slaw as a side. I do have to go out for a single errand. I need blue curacao for tonight’s signature drink. It’s a new one. I was drawn by the glasses rimmed in coconut.

The barbecues we had as kids were always hot dogs and hamburgers or cheeseburgers. There was always a bowl of potato chips. My father, like every other man in the neighborhood, was the cook. He always had a charcoal grill. He always used the fluid to start the coals. We used to hear the whoosh of the fire from the lit fuel. We also sometimes heard my dad putting out the flame on his shoes or the cuffs of his pants. Mishaps aside, my dad always cooked the food perfectly. When we were older, the menu took a decided turn. The meat changed. My mother bought chicken, sausages, steak tips, ribs or pork. The potato chips disappeared and were replaced by my mother’s potato salad. My father still cooked, but he used a hibachi because his grill had bitten the dust, had rotted away, but it didn’t matter. He still cooked dinner to perfection.

“I like physics, but I love cartoons.”

July 5, 2016

Yesterday was a perfect July 4th. The weather was wonderful with a breeze strong enough to blow plates and napkins off the table. We had a barbecue which started with appetizers I had brought. One is a favorite, muhammara, which I learned how to make when I was in Marrakech. The other was brand new: a feta dip. It bumped the muhammara as the favorite. We played games, and I was the only one not to win a game. I got pegged the loser. Dinner was wonderful. We had chicken and sausage and pasta salad. A blueberry dessert topped off the meal. During dessert, we watched the Pops at the Hatch Shell. I think John Adams would have loved our celebration.

I woke up to the sound of rain. It was welcomed as it hasn’t rained in so long. At first it was just a few drops then it became a real rainstorm. The house was dark. My papers in double plastic got a bit wet and so did I when fetching those papers from the front yard.

Since then the rain has stopped and it is beginning to get lighter.  It is supposed to be humid today. The heat wave starts tomorrow. Here on the cape we’ll be cooler thanks to the ocean surrounding us.

This is a busy week for me. I actually have a few events on my usually empty dance card. First up is a concert to hear Ladysmith Black Mambazo. On Friday I have another play at the Cape Playhouse. It is The Music Man. I think I’m going to need a few naps!

My first play was at a theater in the round at the Melody Tent in Hyannis. It was The Unsinkable Molly Brown with Debby Reynolds. I was hooked. I found plays amazing. This led to a long time subscription seat at the Playhouse. I think it’s been twenty or twenty- five years.

I remember a Saturday entertainment night at my school in Ghana. The USAID guy had left a projector and a cartoon about food and germs. My students were so amazed by the cartoon they missed the message. They oohed and ahed that the fly looked so real. They didn’t notice it flew from the outhouse to the food on the table. They were as delighted with that cartoon as I had been with my first play. I learned that everything is indeed relative.

“Facts must be faced. Vegetables simply don’t taste as good as most other things do.”

February 28, 2016

We have lots of sun this morning and a light blue sky, but the day is breezy and cool. I can hear the sweet sounds of the wind chimes blowing.

I’m in a Sunday frame of mind, the kind of Sunday we had when I was a kid, a quiet day, a hang around the house day waiting for dinner. Sunday was always special. It was the only day we had dinner, a fancier fare than we had all week. Dinner was always in the afternoon, usually around two. Supper was at night. My dad used to work late and wasn’t always home in time for supper. We were always together for Sunday dinner. The meal centered around a roast of some sort and mashed potatoes. The vegetables differed from week to week. Bread was never served though I remember it was always on the table at the Cleaver’s, the Walton’s and most other programs about families. Their bread wasn’t fancy, just sliced bread stacked on a plate. I never saw any of them use salt or pepper on their foods. We didn’t either. The table held our plates and silverware and the food. There was barely room for the six of us. Most times my mother would move the food to the counter after we had served ourselves. If we wanted more, she’d always get up to serve us. I don’t remember my mother ever sitting down for an entire meal. We seldom had dessert, not even at Sunday dinner. If there was any in the house, we’d have a bowl of ice cream or we’d grab a few cookies, Oreos were the favorite.

I didn’t know until I was older that potatoes could be more than mashed or French fried. I was surprised to find out carrots and potatoes weren’t the only vegetables which could be served fresh, not out of a can. I did know about corn on the cob, but that was a summer vegetable for a cook-out.

I don’t remember having Sunday dinners in the summer. We had picnics at the beach and cookouts in the backyard. We ate a lot of hamburgers and hot dogs. Corn on the cob and baked beans, out of a can of course, were usually the vegetables. In those days we never had salad. Potato salad came much later, when we were older. Green salad was never a hit.

Despite the canned veggies and the lack of salads and greenery, we were healthy kids. We suffered from the usually maladies of childhood in those days like measles or the mumps, but that was about it. I might have wished to have a few stay at home from school sick days, but I wasn’t ever that lucky.

 

“Paradise can take the form of anything! It can be a flower or it can be a word or it can just be a sincere smile!”

January 8, 2015

I’m running late. I changed my bed, showered, shopped a bit on line and watched CNN. There was no urgency in getting things done. In due time I thought. The tree is still in the stand, bare of Christmas and sitting in the middle of the living room. I tried to get it out of the stand myself, but I couldn’t. It is the only glimmer of Christmas left, and later today it will be gone. My outside lights continue to be lit each night. I am loath to return to darkness.

It was so cold yesterday I brought the bird feeders into the house to fill them. My sister thought it strange and said I should have bundled up and done it outside. I fear the cold has warped her thinking. There I’d be out on the deck layered and wearing mittens and fumbling to get the seed into the feeders. Getting dressed to go outside would have taken longer than the task.

Today is sunny, but the light is muted, even chilly looking. I am not going out. This will be the second day in a row of my self-imposed exile from the world. I have all of life’s essentials: books, TV and Christmas cookies.

Last night I cooked chicken. I rifled through my herbs and spices and found one I hadn’t used, Caribbean Calypso Spice. It came from Penzey’s Spices, an occasion of sin for me. I’m sure a few of you are shaking your heads and wondering what in heck is an occasion of sin. I’ve known since childhood as the nuns were diligent in teaching us to avoid an occasion of sin, “Any person, place, or thing that of its nature or because of human frailty can lead one to do wrong, thereby committing sin.”  When I was younger, the list was long. Now that I’m older, I don’t even think I have a list. I live life with abandonment and am better for it.

I am wearing my new sweatshirt. It says Doctor Who and has a picture of the TARDIS. I am also wearing new slippers. I am warm and comfortable. I just ate a couple of cookies. I’m thinking this is a bit like paradise.

“Forever on Thanksgiving Day The heart will find the pathway home.”

November 20, 2012

It was not a hallucination. I swear when I first woke up this morning there was sun. I smiled, turned over, went back to sleep and missed it. By the time I woke up for good, it was gone; however, these familiar clouds have proverbial silver linings. On the weather last night we were fifteen degrees warmer than Boston and Southern New Hampshire. The weatherman said it was a combination of the warmer ocean and the cloud effect so I have stopped complaining about the lack of sunlight. I’ll just take more vitamin D than usual.

With Thanksgiving being an American holiday we still had to teach when I was in Ghana, but that didn’t stop us from honoring the day. We had a huge Thanksgiving dinner one year with several guests, one turkey, a few chickens, side dishes and pies. The owner of the turkey was a hard bargainer and Thomas, the cook, had to follow the man all the way to his village before he’d sell the turkey. When I was in Bolga last summer, I was amazed by the number of turkeys wandering around. In my two years living there I saw only that one which ended up being the showcase of our feast. The chickens you bought live, still do. You get to pick yours like we pick lobsters from the tank. The man hands you the chicken by its bound feet. I used to hang them from the arms of my moto (motorcycle) to get them home. Someone else always sent the chickens to their heavenly reward. I never could. The year of the giant feast we plucked the chickens. All of them, already having met their demise, were brought to us in a huge bucket. All of a sudden a few of them popped right out of the bucket onto the ground. No, they didn’t run around without their heads. They just popped. I knew scientifically why that had happened but it was still sort of amazing in its own weird way.

That was the year I made my very first pies ever, pawpaw pies. I made the dough, cut up the pawpaws and then added sugar and cinnamon. The cookbook Peace Corps had given us, Ghana Chop (chop being food), said that pawpaw pie would taste just like apple when you added the spices. I brought the two pies to the school’s beehive, clay oven. The cooks put them on the side of the oven away from the intense heat of the middle, but they still took only about 15 or 20 minutes to cook. They were delicious and they tasted exactly like apple pies.

That Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorites.