Posted tagged ‘mashed potatoes’

“Sunday, the day for the language of leisure.”

November 16, 2014

Dreary is the best description for this morning. It is a dark, cloudy, cold day. Dead leaves hang motionless from the branches of the big oak trees in the backyard. Everything is brown.

Yesterday Gracie had another test for her irregular heart beats, but I won’t know the results until Monday. While I was waiting for Gracie, a woman came in with a 10 week old brindle boxer puppy. I told the woman had there been no witnesses, I would have stolen her puppy. It was the cutest dog with soft boxer ears and a mournful look, the sort boxers sometimes get. The woman has another boxer at home, a one year old rescue. I told her about Miss Gracie also being a dark, brindle. We both said we’d never have a different breed as we are such boxer lovers. Gracie came bouncing out of the back area. I patted her and then Gracie went straight to the woman and gave her kisses as only boxers can. The woman told me Gracie was beautiful. That woman has a good eye.

Sunday has always been the quietest day of the week. When I was a kid, I’d go home after mass, change out of my Sunday clothes and mostly hang around the house. I’d read the comics and then settle in with my book. My mother would be making Sunday dinner, and my dad would be watching football. This time of year the house was always closed to keep the cold away. My dad would have climbed the ladder a few weeks back to take off the screens and replace them with the storm windows. It was always a process especially the part of getting the storm windows on the hooks. The closed house held in the best smells on Sundays, especially the aroma of whatever roast was baking in the oven. My favorite will always be roast beef. The smell of one baking still brings me home, to my childhood, to those quiet Sundays.

“A man seldom thinks with more earnestness of anything than he does of his dinner.”

September 21, 2014

The day is wonderfully warm but cloudy. A bright sun would have been a nice touch. The breeze is strong. Pine branches are swaying, and the leaves are billowing. My neighborhood is quiet, Sunday quiet, the way I remember Sundays used to be.

Today I have nothing that needs doing. The week was a busy one so I’ll just relax in sloth mode. I’m not even going to get dressed. I earned today.

I have three dresses. Two are for summer and the third is for winter. I used to wear dresses to work every day, even in Ghana, but now I seldom wear them. They are reserved for weddings and events which happen in fancy venues. Those events tend to be special and have a dress code, unmentioned but expected.

I am drawing a blank today. Nothing comes to mind. I did think about pizza and ribs earlier, and I have no idea why. They seemed strange topics to pop into my head, but they did remind me of my mother who used to make those English muffin pizzas and freeze them for later, for snacks. She also made crabbies on English muffins and would serve them on game nights. As for the ribs, I have no idea where they came from.

My parents didn’t have much money when I was growing up, but I didn’t know that. Christmas was a wonder and under the tree was always filled with gifts. Every Easter we got new clothes. For Halloween my mother made our costumes just as my friends’ mothers made theirs. Store bought costumes had no originality, no imagination and were sort of ugly with plastic masks held on by an easily broken elastic. Sunday dinners were always special. We could count on sort of a roast, mashed potatoes, gravy and veggies. That is still my favorite dinner. Last night my friend served a roast chicken, tons of mashed potatoes, gravy and carrots. I was in heaven.

“One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.”

August 16, 2014

The sun is in and out of the clouds. The day goes from strikingly sunny and beautiful to cloudy and dark. The weather in the paper said partly sunny. I guess I didn’t think about the other part.

On Saturday, the day before I left for the Peace Corps, my mother asked me what I’d like for our last family dinner together for a long while. I answered right away: roast beef, mashed potatoes, peas and gravy, all my favorites, and that’s what we had. It is still one of my favorite meals. Mashed potatoes are the height of comfort food for me. My mother’s mashed potatoes were always fluffy and lump less. She used a hand masher, one of those metal ones with a flat grill bottom. I sometimes watched her. She wielded that masher as if it were a weapon in the hands of a master swordsman. She’d add butter and milk and keep mashing. I even remember the bowl she always used to serve the potatoes. It was a wide, not tall, bowl. She’d add the potatoes and put a few pats on butter on top. It was a thing of beauty.

My favorite ice cream changes. When I was a kid, we didn’t have all the choices and exotic flavors we have now. Back then my favorite was a dish of plain old chocolate made exquisite by adding Hersey’s syrup. When I was in high school, it was mint chocolate chip in a sugar cone with jimmies all over the ice cream. I used to buy it at Brigham’s. Mocha chip was my favorite for a while, and I still sometimes buy it, but lately I have been into coconut topped with dark chocolate sea salt caramel sauce. It tastes as superb as it sounds.

I like vegetables, quite a change from when I was growing up. Back then I ate potatoes, peas, corn and French green beans, all of which came from cans. I also ate carrots but they were disguised and hidden in the mashed potatoes. In Ghana I couldn’t get many vegetables. I ate garden eggs which are small egg plants, okra, tomatoes, yam, onions and one year I had green peppers grown from seeds I got from home. I really missed vegetables which I wouldn’t ever have imagined when I was a kid. My favorites are still peas, but corn on the cob and summer tomatoes are on my list of favorites. Just no beans ever!

Traveling gave me the chance to try new foods, and I tried all sorts. I didn’t even know the names of some of them. The food didn’t have to look good as I had grown out of the stage of judging foods by its appearances. I think maybe it was Ghana which taught me that.

“Sunday is the core of our civilization, dedicated to thought and reverence.”

February 23, 2014

The sun is elsewhere, but it is warm, winter warm. Only very small snow piles are left here and there. Earlier I gave Gracie a special biscuit which she then buried in the yard. I know that because Gracie came in with her face and jowls covered in dirt. I ran to clean her, but she shook off most of the dirt onto my cabinets and floor. I did manage to clean what was left off her face then I cleaned the floor. I’ve watched Gracie bury her prizes. First she digs a hole, drops in the biscuit then uses her nose to push the dirt back over the hole. Later she’ll bring in the most disgusting, dirty biscuit and eat it on my rug.

I’m getting itchy. This will be the second year I haven’t traveled because my bank account is almost non-existent so my austerity campaign has begun. A pair of pants I bought for my first trip to Ghana wore out at the crease on the leg so I used duct tape and you can’t even tell. My slippers have a hole in the toe so I put on socks. I figure I can save enough money to go back to Ghana in 2015. Besides, there isn’t really too much I need except maybe a new pair of pants come warmer weather. The duct tape gets sticky.

I am most decidedly bored today which is a good thing. No leaks, no car scrapes, no broken bones as of yet, but the week is young. Given my mood, I think it’s time to start playing Pollyanna’s happy game.

When I was growing up, I was content with a quiet Sunday. It was most decidedly a day of rest. Nobody did outside chores, the stores were all closed, and we were expected to stay around for dinner. The day started with mass then home and the paper though in those days I only read the funnies. I’d watch some TV or read until my mother called us to the table. Mashed potatoes were part of the meal every Sunday, and there was always gravy. I’d make a well in my potatoes and try not to let the gravy spill over the edge.  It was my weekly challenge on every quiet Sunday

“I’m thankful for every moment.”

November 28, 2013

Thanksgiving is the least adorned holiday of them all. We don’t buy each other presents or decorate the house. There are no new outfits in spring colors. The highlight of the day is dinner and being together around the table as a family related by blood or friendship. Of all the holidays, it is the one in which we share so much in common. Traditional dishes unique to each family are served but so are turkey and mashed potatoes, stuffing and gravy and all those pies. It is the time for us to remember the people we love who are no longer with us and to appreciate the ones who are. We give thanks for the good in our lives, the food on our tables and the glory of every day. We talk together and laugh together at dinner. We pass the rolls, the green bean casserole and the canned cranberry sauce with the ribbing. We eat until we can eat no more, but we leave plenty of leftovers. They are one of the best parts of thanksgiving. We finish by doing some cleaning up then relaxing in the living room until we have some room for dessert.

On Thanksgiving my sisters, who live far away, and I are connected not just by family but also by tradition: by my mother’s squash dish, a recipe she got from her sister, which was on our Thanksgiving table very year. It was passed to us and now had passed to a third generation. My mother’s recipe for stuffing fills all our turkeys. As for the pies: my mother made apple pie for my father. He always ate it with a slab of cheddar. The Lemon meringue was my favorite. Blueberry rounded out the pie selection.

I have baked my traditional offering: a chocolate cream pie, requested every year. Coincidentally my sister made one. It is not uncommon we are in the same wave length.

This morning I will watch the parade, the same as I have done as long I can remember. I’ll talk to my sisters to wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. I won’t dress fancy for Thanksgiving, none of us really do. I’ll sit with my friends and enjoy every part of the day. I am thankful for the life I have been lucky enough to live, for the people I love and the people who love me. 

I am thankful for all of you, my Coffee family.

Happy Thanksgiving!

“There is one day that is ours. Thanksgiving Day is the one day that is purely American.”

November 24, 2013

Last night the wind blew then blew some more and whistled and shook the house. It was tremendous.

Today is bone-chillingly cold. Patches of blue dot the sky. The wind is not as strong as last night but it is still whipping the bare branches of the pines and oaks. The sun shines weakly for a while then disappears and leaves behind a bleakness, a wintry feel to the day. Outside is not at all inviting.

I have always believed Thanksgiving is more about family than any other holiday. I remember the Thanksgivings of my childhood and being home together the whole day biding our time until dinner. My mother always woke up in the wee hours of the morning to stuff the turkey then put it into the oven. The huge oval turkey pan was blue with small white dots. Sometimes the turkey was so big it just fit into the pan. I can still see my mother straining to pull the shelf out of the oven so she could baste the turkey. She always took a taste of the hard outside crust of the stuffing before she’d push the turkey back into the oven. Her stuffing tasted of sage and Bell’s Seasoning. It is still my favorite stuffing of them all. The windows were always steamed from the heat so my mother would open the back door to cool the small kitchen. While she worked on dinner, we sat in front of the TV and watched the Macy’s parade. She always put out the same snacks for the parade. There was a bowl of nuts to crack and eat, M&M’s and tangerines. I always like the tangerines because they were so easy to peel. The nuts were fun to crack.

When we were young, the menu didn’t vary much. Mashed potatoes were one of the highlights. I remember the big glob of butter my mother would put on top and how it would melt down the sides of the pile of potatoes. I always made a well in my potatoes where I’d put the gravy. I am still a huge fan of mashed potatoes. Creamed onions were on the menu because they were one of my father’s favorites. Peas were mine. The green beans came from a can because all our vegetables did. My father cut the meat with great ceremony and we all watched. He cut plenty of white meat because it was our favorite, but not my father’s. He was a leg man.

Dessert was always the same. My mother made an apple pie, a blueberry pie and a lemon meringue pie, my personal favorite. Pumpkin  pie was added when we were older.

Leftovers seemed to last forever.


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