Monday, October 26, 2009

Fall Flavor Edition: The Cracker Chronicles

I'm joining Linda, who's doing Fall into Flavor on Mondays before the holidays begin.

As I pondered which recipe to share, I started thinking about my Aunt Bill’s Potato Casserole. Which reminded me that I haven’t written a Cracker Chronicle post in forever.

Aunt Bill was my great-great aunt. As in, she was my great grandmother’s youngest sister. But she was about the same age as my grandmother. I’m sure there’s a real story behind that which I’ll research another day. I have many memories of her, as she had a house right next to my great-grandmother’s house at Ft. Walton Beach where we spent our summers.

She was outspoken and expressive, like all the women in our family. Another steel magnolia. She was colorful, sturdy and long-lasting, however she lacked the sweet smelling bloom. We all loved her dearly.

My earliest memories of Aunt Bill are of the bird she owned. It was a loud parrot that demanded crackers that I was delighted to provide. He lived on the porch of her beach house and attracted the children like bees to honey. She played on that to get us to do her chores. She paid us, but it was so cheap, it makes me feel like a dinosaur to think what a dollar could buy back then. I’m going to hope that one of my cousins can correct me on this, but it seems to me she would take us to the Five and Dime Store and give us each a quarter to shop with. We could actually buy something with that! Sure, it was cheap and broke after a day but the thrill of going to the store with my cousins was great. We would stay in the store making our selections for at least an hour. Now I realize that the greatest gift Aunt Bill gave us was the wonderful memories.

I have a piece of furniture that I love that belonged to Aunt Bill. I got it from my grandmother. I call it a “library table” but it folds out and becomes a “game table” when you pull up the drop-down piece. I may be sentimental, but it evokes warm memories of my great-great aunts and their love of games like Pinochle, Scrabble and Bridge.

This story started with a recipe, and it’s time for me to take this dish out of the oven and eat, so here’s the “rest of the story”….

The women in our family laugh when we call it “Aunt Bill’s Potato Casserole” because as the story goes, she got it from the back of the hash brown potato bag and claimed it as her own. I think good recipes were the currency of friends back in that day.

You may have this recipe already, but let it be known, in the South, this is proclaimed to be:

Aunt Bill’s Potato Casserole

2 lb. bag frozen hash brown potatoes, thawed
¼ cup softened butter
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
2 Cup grated cheddar cheese
1 tsp salt
¼ tsp pepper
2 cups sour cream
½ cups chopped onion

Mix all of the above ingredients.
Place in a shallow casserole dish. Mix topping in a small bowl and spread over top.

2 cups crushed cornflakes (Put the cornflakes in a large baggie and crush with a rolling pin)
¼ cup softened butter

I work the butter and cornflakes together with my hands. Bake 45 min- 1 hour at 350 degress.

For more recipes, check out 2nd Cup of Coffee

**Added Note - As a result of Uncommon Blonde's question, I found out Aunt Bill's real name was Lilly! I never heard that. She obviously didn't like it. That fits too.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Friday - Time for Fun!

My friend over at Piles of Smiles has been doing Friday Funnies for some time and I finally decided to join in. If you want some help starting your weekend right - check out Friday Funnies. Here's my smiles:

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Fear Is Just a Bad Dream

I’ve had my share of bad dreams. As a child, I remember having dreams of a steamroller overtaking me - leaving me flat as Wile E. Coyote in the Road Runner cartoons. (No doubt that’s where that dream originated!) Later my bad dreams were not of falling or monsters or things that go BUMP in the night. Oddly enough, my recurring bad dream was that I was on a sailboat on a silent, flat ocean. Not a puff of wind to take me anywhere. No compass - no destination. Stillness – just suffocating stillness. I remember waking from that dream with a feeling of listlessness and loneliness.

I sometimes wonder if that dream was the predecessor of my greatest fear, which is best described as “missing the boat”. My mind knows that we are human beings, not human doings. However, my heart hasn’t fully absorbed the message that my life is not performance-based. I used to blithely quote “what you are is God’s gift to you and what you become is your gift to God.” I’ve quit reciting that as it really adds to the performance pressure. What if I miss an opportunity or don’t become all that God intended for me? What if I die with the music still in me? What if? What if? Just STOP!

The only way I know to combat fear is with faith. And even when I don’t FEEL full of faith, I can be assured that faith is not based on feelings. In fact, God spoke to my heart years ago with the assurance that the shield of faith has a safety catch on it. Especially handy for me. Fear may be a bad dream, but that doesn’t make it a reality.

There is much in the world to make us afraid. There is much more in our faith to make us unafraid.
~Frederick W. Cropp

This post was the result of some “mulling” I’ve done since Michelle over at Scribbit put out the October writing challenge on the subject of Fear. I also entered a post from my business blog. Have I ever mentioned I love words?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

You Can't Burn This

Fall makes me think of raking & burning leaves. My kitchen often has the smell of burning too and it's not limited to Fall. That's just one thing that's great about this recipe - you can't burn it. I racked my brains to come up with the right recipe to share for Linda’s Fall Into Flavor kickoff because I really need the apron she’s giving away. I really didn't want to put my mind on sweets and butter just yet. Because where my mind goes, my mouth is sure to follow. Sometimes my mouth doesn't even wait for my mind. ; )

I used to heartily dislike meatloaf. On the other hand, Builderman, being the meat and potatoes kind of guy that he is, loved it. So I would try to plan it for his dinner when I was going to be gone and just leave it in the crock pot. Then a friend told me about her special sauce that magically transforms meat loaf into something rather tasty. I combined her sauce with my brother-in-law’s meatloaf and voila… this is a very tasty dinner. Since it’s hearty and filling, it seems perfect for fall.

¾ cup milk
2/3 cup crushed saltines
2 eggs
1 ½ lbs ground beef
½ cup chopped onion
Salt & pepper
Dash of sage

½ cup Ketchup
1 Tbsp Sugar
1 Tbsp vinegar
2 Tbsp Worcstershire sauce
1 tsp yellow mustard

Crush crackers and put them in the milk to soften. Mix all ingredients together. I add a generous dollop of the sauce to the meat mixture and form into a crock-pot-shaped loaf. Place in crockpot and cover with sauce. Cook on low all day or on high for 5 hours. Enjoy!

Go on over to Linda's for more yummy recipes and please tell her to rig the contest and pick me. ; ) Just kidding. Kind of.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Hope is the Anchor of My Soul

I'm wrapped in the warmth of a happy weekend on the first frosty morning of the new season. I'm lovin' it! I'm believing for a season of miracles...

Builderman and I had the amazing opportunity to meet Melanie’s son Andrew and pray for him Friday. Andrew has the most beautiful eyes. The words I am impressed with concerning relentless prayer for Andrew are from the story of David and his pursuit of the enemy. In this case, the Amalekites had taken all the women and children captive and carried off all their stuff. (see 1 Samuel 30) David prayed and God said,
Recover All

And he did. An inspiration and a lesson. It makes all the difference that there are many of us in this battle with Melanie and Dan. We are committed to pursue, overtake and recover all!

Saturday was a glorious day in Sarasota. The weather was beautiful and we strolled through Bayfront Park and enjoyed a picnic. Then on to Selby Botanical Gardens where I worked after school and during the summers of my high school years. At that time, an incredible private estate had just been dontaed and was being developed into the Gardens. I remember the artist’s rendering as the process of building and planting began. I could not imagine the lush beauty that is there now. It’s a testimony to the power of a dream.

The sound of the wind rattling the bamboo was really memorable. However, that wasn’t nearly as special as sound of Rosebud's coos and her priceless smiles. She’s owns my heart.

I've seen enough miracles to know there's more on the way. Hope is the anchor of my soul!

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Still Crazy After All These Years

Hillary is hosting a “crazy” blog carnival. (That’s the theme.) If there was ever a blog carnival that had my name on it – this is it. Here’s just a few pieces of evidence:

My sister and I can still sing every single word of the Joni Mitchell Song “ Twisted” without accompaniment and perfectly together. We love it. Oh mercy- some of you probably don't know this title as it was popular in the 70's. I was barely born then. ; ) Never mind that the title of this post is an Eagle’s song from the same era. Era- that word sounds old - but of course, I'm not. Call me delusional, but don't call me old.

I'll dance as if no one is watching, even if they are. My youngest child has been known to scold me and say “don’t EVER do that again”. Party pooper.

I call it “The Drama Gene”, which dictates that I’m not easily embarrassed. This doesn’t bode well for those shy people in my company. I love to laugh and do so too loudly, I’m pretty sure.

My mind can be like a Lazy Susan. It's full of good stuff. If I can't reach it at the moment, it will come back around.

One of my favorite cards, given to me by Uncommon Blonde several years ago, has the photo below with the inscription: Happy Mother’s Day to my very glamorous, sometimes goofy, always glorious Mom. I love it.
For lots of versions of crazy, visit Hillary’s place… you’ll meet some of my friends over there. My mama always said “you’re known by the company you keep” and “birds of a feather flock together.”

By the way, did you know that Joie de vivre is a lovely translation for “she’s a little crazy”?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Peace Be Steel

I have a daughter (Cupcake) and a sister who do stand-up comedy.

Oh, I don't mean in a club or anything like that, they are simply hilarious. And I must say, I'm an ideal audience since I laugh in all the right places. However, I may get a little loud sometimes. In fact, this is a given. People always want to be at our table to see what in the world is going on.

This YouTube video makes me laugh really hard. I wanted to post it last week when I saw it but it's not embeddable so I didn't. Today, ADHD was looking for a "Feel Good" guest for her scheduled Tuesday post and I decided to share a special guest to make her laugh. So this one's for you, my friend. I've never seen Madea before this.

Peace Be Steel YouTube Video

Monday, October 12, 2009

Some May Tweet, but There’s a Cuckoo in Me

I was on the phone the other day making plans to see a wonderful friend when I heard a cuckoo clock in the background. I was immediately transported back in time to my Grandmother Sue’s hallway in the big family home in Carrabelle. It was as if I could smell the old house, and sense the suffocating quiet that was broken by the cheerful chime of the little bird greeting the hour from his minature bird house. I was captivated then and I am captivated now. I asked “isn’t that a cuckoo clock I hear?” She replied that her grandmother used to have one and it brings back such good memoires she decided she needed one.

As I was visiting with her later, I was cocooned in her couch that literally envelopes you when I heard the first chime. I leapt up and raced to the kitchen, nearly injuring myself in my hurry, just in time to catch that little bird on his last chirp. I was ridiculously pleased.

My mom tells me that the particular clock I remember was sent to my grandmother from Germany when her daughter (my aunt) was working over there. The history of the clocks made first in the Black Forest of Germany in the 1730’s is very romantic. (Of course now, most are probably made in China!) I’m pretty sure the clock is still in the vacant house and there’s a remote possibility I could even get that particular clock.

So now the question is, do I really want a cuckoo clock? I think it would be fun to continue the tradition. But do I want to hear it all the time? Can you disable the chime at night? I haven’t researched all this yet, so if you have any thoughts, I’m all ears.

“… and up in the nursery an absurd little bird, is popping out to say cuckoo!”

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Shopping Cart Voyeur

I like to shop at Sam’s Club, which is rather surprising considering we are down from 5 to 2 people in the house. I like to eye other people’s carts to see what they buy and have discovered some good deals that way. I have no problem doing this as the social gene I got from my mom is quite dominant.

I learned over at Works for me Wednesday about Alice, an online shopping service that's a discount buying club without leaving your house. Interesting. There's a give-away for $25 on the WWW post today.

But back to Sam's- I buy almonds now after seeing them in someone’s cart at check-out.
These other finds are the result of sampling. I’ve been making chicken salad with this canned chicken and it’s really good and wonderfully easy. $8 for 5 cans!
This is my mom’s chicken salad recipe:

Simply Divine Chicken Salad
Chicken, cut in bite size pieces
Enough mayo for your taste
Lots of red seedless grapes, cut in small pieces
Chopped pecans
Salt & pepper

I used to despise recipes like this, but sometimes it’s all you get. It’s delicious.
I put it on these Pita Bites from Sam’s and they are the perfect accompaniment.For dessert, try the Atlanta Bread company mini-pumpkin muffins that just came in for the fall. They are really delicious.

This would be a great luncheon or brunch menu if you’re having your friends over anytime soon and are feeling lazy or just too busy efficient.

After I wrote this post, I saw that the theme today at WWW is cleaning tips. So my tip is to keep disenfectant wipes in your car. It keeps your car clean and always take one in with you to the store to clean the shopping cart handle. This is much safer than the flu vaccine. : ) You're welcome.

CLICK HERE for ideas for a really clean house. Of course, this knowledge in my hands might be as effective as watching an exercise video while eating ice cream. My favorite tip over there is to "hire someone".

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Of Politics and Pacifiers

I suffer from occasional bouts of insanity. Thank God I seem to recover quickly.

Take for instance, my consideration of applying to be a community blogger. This is a position advertised by our local paper whereby you agree to post 3 times a week regarding current issues, reply to comments and submit to being a public whipping post. For FREE! Oh yes, sign me right up.

Granted, the reason I considered it is that it galls me that politics has become so political. I know, I know, I’m the eternal optimist who thinks it’s supposed to be about the thoughtful, intelligent exchange of ideas to lead government and formulate laws that are in the best interest of the people and in line with our constitution. How old-fashioned of me.

My passion to speak up is fueled when I read the words of Abraham Lincoln,
“America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.”

I love America. I find great comfort in the fact that I’ve read the last chapter of the book and righteousness wins. But it can get awfully messy between here and there.

The continous direction of our government in controlling more and more aspects of our personal lives alarms me on many levels. Did you hear that the FTC has issued a new law governing bloggers that takes effect December 1? Oh yes, it’s true. Michelle at Scribbit has an excellent summary of the 81-page document.

Lest I come across as harsh, I’ll leave you with a picture of goodness, peace and love. She brings joy and hope to my heart. She looks a little concerned about my conversation too, so we'll just have to fix our eyes on the promise in Jeremiah 29:11. And sing a bit- that always helps.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

That Immense Sea

If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea."
Antoine de Saint Exupéry

It seems that in the richest land in the world, the malaise of unfulfilled dreams is steadily eroding relationships and scarring people with the pain of a futile existence. They are lulled into a lie that their life has no purpose and they seek to find comfort in entertaining themselves while the hours and days slip by. Potential is wasted and the cost is incalculable.

I am seeing the fall-out from this plague in marriages. Two friends with seemingly happy homes, filled with children and laughter, are dealing with separation and discussions of divorce. I honestly believe that unfulfilled dreams play a large role in the issues of at least one of the couples. Unhappiness, discontent, blame - and then the story takes a tragic turn as fulfillment is sought in the wrong places.

We’re designed with a purpose and thrive with a quest in our heart and passion in our steps.

What can you do this week to reach farther, see wider, feel deeper? What could help you kindle a greater understanding and perspective for this vast world of ours? It’s likely to start with something simple and do-able. What’s that in your hand?

This song from 1980 always puts wind in my sails. Cast off my friend, the sea is calling.