|A GUIDE TO LOW IMPACT COOKING
I know Donna is compiling a cooking guide but darn, I hate to cook. In a moment of frustration when Matt was seventeen I grumbled “I hate to cook!”
Shocked he replied, “But I thought you loved to cook.”
“What makes you think I liked to cook?” I retorted.
“You do it every day,” so much for the logic and wisdom of youth.
I probably picked up my attitude from my mother. She was an excellent cook. No one in the family has been able to adequately replicate her lemon meringue or apple pies. Despite this she would rather read a book than cook a meal. Reading was her passion. Perhaps it was because she cooked for five children who had a 19 year span between the youngest and the oldest. Between 1947 when she had a toddler and an infant and 1980 when the youngest left home she cooked at least 28,000 meals.
I too cooked for my family and during that time never served a TV dinner or instant mashed potatoes. My cooking was however basic and forgettable. Along the way I learned some non-cooking tricks that I will now share.
1.) Perfect 10 easy to cook meals and serve them over and over. According to Matt and Becca that was just what I did.
2.) Periodically make cookies for your children. They are easy made and create the illusion of a good cook in your children’s minds.
3.) Avoid elaborate cooking equipment. In 1982 we moved into our home on Nacoma Lane. Shortly after we had an open house party. I hired Kathy Towe to cater the event. As she and I and Rita did the preparation the other two began looking for needed equipment. They were appalled by my meager collection of cooking gear. Rita swore she was going to hold a kitchen shower for my next birthday. The shower never happened because, “It was obvious you would never use anything we gave you,” Rita explained.
4.) Do not cook fried chicken, buy it. I learned this after setting the kitchen afire for the second time.
5.) Cook like a Yankee: Yankees like their turkey moist and Southerners, at least the Thompsons, like it dry. In 34 years of marriage I was only asked to cook the turkey once, in our third year of marriage. However my Yankee children like moist turkey so I get to cook one for them at Thanksgiving.
6.) When someone complements you at a dinner for your contribution be honest. “Kathy, that cheesecake you brought was wonderful, what is the recipe?” Response, “No recipe, it was made from a mix that came in a box.” If you get a reputation for good dishes you get asked more.
7.) Work longer hours than your husband. When we both worked and TJ coached his cooking skills consisted of hot dogs, hamburgers, and sandwiches. Ask Matt and Becca about my summer trips to New York to visit my family. When TJ retired from teaching and semi retired from the bank he began cooking supper for us. I was driving an hour each way to work and often stayed late after school. As he began to cook more his selections expanded. At this point he is a pretty good cook. When Frank Beaver retired and Sue was working at the bank Frank took over the dinner shift. I would stop by and stand in amazement at the beautifully set table and well balanced meals.
8.) Always remind yourself that you have other talents. For example writing humorous articles.
As I enter retirement I may cook more. I do like to cook something fun for parties. In fact I have already signed up for a class at the Folk School in cooking chocolate dishes. I just need one or two killer chocolate recipes to be remembered fondly by after I am gone.
Donna’s Favorite Sausage Balls
Served on Christmas Eve
By Aunt Kathy
1 pound sausage (hot or mild)
3 cups Bisquick
1 lb. or ½ cup grated cheese (cheddar or sharp.)
Only a die hard cook grates cheese. Buy it in a bag.
In a bowl mix ingredients together by hand. Form one inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet. Bake at 35 degrees for 10-15 minutes.
They can be frozen and used later.
|Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 04:16
85 Nacoma Lane, Blue Ridge, GA
“Birds have been on this planet, Miss Daniels, since Archaeopteryx, a hundred and forty million years ago. Doesn’t it seem odd that they’d wait all that time to start a, a war against humanity.”
Birds the Movie 1963
We had been away traveling on a three-day mini vacation to see old homes in Eufaula, Alabama. Upon arriving home I walked around to the back of the house looking for the cat. Strange, on the ground were small bits of pink insulation. “TJ” I called. We continued around to the back where we found more pink packets, dozens of them. “I’ll bet the stupid dog has something to do with it,” I growled. “Look up,” TJ cammanded. Above us on the upper floor level were five huge holes, as big or bigger than a softball. “What,” we muttered shocked. Each side of the house had three holes. The front has a porch the length of the house and was spared.
The next morning at 6 AM our concerns were confirmed. Tap does not describe the sound, wham does. Wham, wham, wham, over and over as three woodpeckers drilled into our cedar house. I ran out to the back deck and screamed at them. Oh my gosh, they came out of the holes, they’re building nests. We have had smaller woodpeckers before that only tapped and ate inscect. This bunch planned to move in. All morning we ran outside and yelled and they quickly returned. The holes were getting bigger.
A bird book identified them as Common Tangers. Searching on the internet I found horror photos. woodpeckers can continue pecking through sheetrock into the house.
The next day a contractor arrived, pulled out planks, inserted metal flashing and renailed the boards. Before he filled in the holes he wanted to see if the birds would return.The next mornng we lay awake at dawn listening.
Kathy: When do you think they’ll come?
Whack, whack, whack, they were back.
The internet, county agent, and the man we called to fill in the holes agreed that our best hope was to scare them away and hope they found a neighbor or another neighborhood to terrorize. Suggestions included rubber snakes, clanging metal mobiles, silowettes of hawks, fake owls and more. We went with snakes, cable hanging off the roof eaves, and clanging stove liners.
An environmental site suggested building the woodpeckers custom bird houses. Yeaaa, keep them around. Nonsense! Forget that I was once on the board of the Georgia Sierra Club.
The next morning.
Kathy: When do you think they’ll come?
Two days, three, four days, they seemed to have left. It might have helped that our neighbor, who lives in a cedar house, shot at them with a bb gun and killed one. It has been two weeks and the house looks like hell, snakes, cables, but we are afraid to take the stuff down. Yesterday the man who tends the cemetary below our house knocked on the door to tell us that a snake was crawling up the side of the house. (Dec. 2010, the snakes remain, just in case they return in the spring).
I have out of town friends coming to visit the next two weekends, but I am not taking chances. In the meantime I found a plastic owl that has motion detectors. Once awaken it turns its head, hoots, and has blinking eyes. At $16.95 its a bargain. I am ordering it, just in case.
|Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 04:16
El Kabong, One Tough Cat
El Kabong is a survivor. She was born in the household of an elderly lady who by then had 41 cats living in the house. The lady was senile and unable to really care for them. When she died the Animal Control deputies brought the whole pile of cats to a local vet. It was then that I got a call from a friend, “Kathy, you need to come down here and get a cat!” she shouted. We dutifully arrived and looked over the group. They were pitiful. A small tabby looked sickly but better than most, so we took her home. Our cat had recently died and it was good to have a cat.
We quickly learned two things about this cat. First, she was the fasted cat we had ever owned, crossing and crisscrossing our yard at amazing speeds. Secondly, she had a deformity, her tongue permanently sticks out. When she wakes she has to wet her tongue. And yes she has a perpetual dumb look on her face, but we love her and named her El Kabong after a speedy cartoon character.
El Kabong got sick and was diagnosed as having mouth cancer. This is a terrible disease because untended cats mouths get so tender they starve to death. Our vet prescribed steroid shots, for as long as she would live.
That was two and a half years and endless steroid shots ago. Amazingly El Kabong is still holding her own. The first winter from the diagnosis she got so sick the vet and I said it was time to put her down. “No, give her a shot and one more week and see what happens,” I said. And to our surprise she recovered. This last winter after two years of treatment I again think she would not make it as she lay still and listless. Yet she did survive.
El Kabong is not large, half the size of a grown cat, but she is a giant when it comes to survival. She stalks birds, explores the yard and takes playful swipes at our dog. Altogether she is unique.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 04:16
Why You Should NOT Take Your Dog on a Mini-Vacation
From Kathy Thompson , Feb 2010
Taking our Rat Terrier with us for a three-day trip seemed a good idea, well at least to me. I didn’t mind two days with neighbors but three seemed a lot. Our destination was Lake Lure, a four-hour drive just southeast of Asheville, North Carolina. Initially Sadie did well. She slept in the car when we met old friends in Asheville for lunch and went to the bathroom on command when I walked her.
Lake Lure we discovered is a narrow lake ringed by summer homes and floating docks. The town is minuscule but quaint and the surrounding mountains beautiful. The 1927 resort and nearby beach was the site of the filming of Dirty Dancing. When I saw the film I really thought it filmed at a resort in the Catskills.
When we checked into a small condo at the resort the television was “snowy.” The repair man was unable to fix the problem and it was too late for cable TV to come out so we registered a complaint and left for the indoor pool. The problem was that because we had a dog with us (for which we paid a “dog fee”) they could not switch us to most of the units as the owners did not allow dogs.
When we returned there was a note from the manager telling us that we could swap to a private home they managed, at no extra cost. When we arrived at our new abode it was gorgeous, three bedrooms, dining room, well equipped kitchen, beautiful view, fireplace. At this point Sadie was our hero.
The next day we went to town, shopped and explored, all with a well behaved dog in tow. In the afternoon Sadie and TJ watched college rowing teams train on the lake as part of their Spring Break and I went swimming. TJ discovered why single men get dogs as cute coeds came by to admire Sadie. Later we got dressed up to go to dinner at a historic 1927 Inn and Spa where scenes from the movie were filmed. Having left Sadie’s carrier we put her in the laundry room with food, water, toys and her bed.
The meal was delicious and leisurely and we were in a wonderful mood. That is until we returned and opened the laundry room door. “You better look at this,” TJ said. For a foot on either side of the door Sadie had destroyed the wooden casing. At first we thought she clawed but inspection revealed she had chewed leaving chunks of wood below. We are calm folks and chose to accept that she is a dumb dog and we failed to think ahead. No use in ruining a vacation.
But Sadie had other issues. I think at this point she lost her mind. All day she had not gone to the bathroom despite trips outdoors. (At home she runs free so it is not an issue). I began to worry she would swell up and explode. And yes we watched her and check the house for “gifts.” Turns out she requires grass not dirt as we discovered the next day and no she did not explode.
That was not all. At one A. M. I was awoken by TJ, “Sadie is crying and keeping me up.” So I slept on the couch as she would not come in the bedroom.
I left like a kid going to the principal’s office the next morning as I entered the resort office where I would have to explain the door damage. The manager was very nice and noted that his dog did the same thing to their laundry room. I made arrangements to pay for paying for repairs. Our really cheap winter rates will no doubt be summer rates by the time we pay the repair bill.
On the trip back TJ took a notion to turn up a road we had passed hundreds of times over more than thirty years. There was always a sign for Nantahalla High School but we never knew where it was. The barely two-lane road would wind nine miles in a narrow gorge. Rock cliffs towered overhead covered with mosses and lichen. On the lower ledges tall delicate, lacy, muted white-green Wooly Hemlock trees grew. A misting rain fell on a swollen river that gushed down rocks which in places became tumbling waterfalls. Half way a huge waterfall cascaded into the river from the top of the rock faced gorge. It was spectacular.
Vacations are a lot like life, a mixture of pleasure, missteps and awe.
Last Updated on Monday, 03 June 2013 04:16
|Written by K Thompson
|Wednesday, 25 May 2011 15:43
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I Have What?
“If I’d known you were going to obsess about this I would have never told you,” Mike, my physical therapist, carped. “If you were a woman you would not have been so blunt or surprised by my reaction,” I thought to myself.
Indeed Mike’s pronouncement, delivered casually as he massaged my neck, did propel me into a major panic. “You know you’re developing a Dowager’s Hump,” is not what a 68-year old woman wants to hear. An image of an elderly woman walking shakily with a cane, a large hump visible under her fuzzy sweater, flashed through my mind.
Not surprisingly, when I got home I researched Dowager’s Hump on the internet. Apparently there are three potential root causes; genetics, lifelong posture issues, and a bone fracture in the neck which causes the head to tilt forward and the upper back muscles to overwork. While the first two do not respond to meds or surgery, a bone fracture does have a possible remedy. A newly developed technique involves injecting medical glue into the fracture stopping further back humping caused by a tilting head.
Detecting a fracture requires a MRI test. “You don’t need a MRI,” Mike declared incredulously. “My doctor and my insurance company beg to differ,” I responded.
The MRI did not detect any fracture requiring me to consider other causes. A lifelong habit of walking with my head down and poor posture were the obvious causes.
Subsequently I have begun a regimen intended to improve my posture and hopefully halt the progress of my odious Dowager’s Hump. Mike added exercises to focus on neck strength to my gym routine. I redesigned my computer space as, due to poor posture, my nose often migrated toward the screen.
I had barely adjusted to this assault when I noticed that the hair on the sides of my head was flipping up, giving me a kind of wild, out of control look. John, my hairdresser of many years, had never given me a bad cut, so this development was a surprise.
When this unexpected phenomenon appeared I was out of the country visiting a friend. Because I thought a bad haircut was the cause, I snapped a photo of myself in the bathroom mirror. My intent was that upon seeing the photo John would correct his mistake.
John’s clientele are almost exclusively female, skewed to women of a certain age. Unlike Mike, John knew what my reaction would be to his disclosure of my hair issue. “I noticed the problem beginning about a year ago. Your hair is thinning due to aging,” he explained in calm, understanding manner. “You see, your hair now weighs less so your natural curl makes your hair flip up,” he continued.
Fortunately I have fat hair so that the thinning was only apparent in the flipped-up side areas. John’s plan was to let the sides grow out, making them heavy enough to straighten.
Despite more length, a shampoo for thin hair, and copious amounts of hair gel, my hair continues to curl upwards. I now have a curly, flippy hair style, kind of chirpy and a little unruly.
Having squashed my desire for quieter hair, I have to admit my thinning hair has created a cute look befitting my happy, sometimes undisciplined personality. When you can’t dismiss a problem, change your attitude.
Still, I’m not taking this aging process passively. Head up, spine in an s-curve position, shoulders back, and hair longer, I march smiling into the future.
Bucket List Quest
It is 7:15 AM when I leave the house and am greeted by darkness, overcast skies and a misty rain. Cranking the car I notice the temperature gauge on the panel reads 44 degrees. What would bring a retired person out on such an unappealing morning? Item #1 on my Bucket List; “Appear in a movie as an extra. Must be recognizable and seen for three seconds or more.” That will be my legacy. Look, there’s my Mom/Grandmother,” will be shouted as I lurk in the background of an unremarkable scene.
On the way to the casting call location I stop at the bakery and get a dozen cider doughnuts. I am now fully prepared along with a folding chair, umbrella, and my smart phone and a sketch pad to combat boredom.
When I arrive the town of Blue Ridge is still asleep with the exception of a few senior citizens walking for their health. The call location set by the movie casting agency is Ted Weaver’s Auto Repair Shop. Ted specializes in restoring old cars and the film Need for Speed will be a muscle car film. It is quiet as I set up my folding chair. Later there will be a car show on this street, a community Easter Egg Hunt, as well as the Blue Ridge Scenic Railroad’s train going in and out of town with its engine whistle going full blast.
Shortly after I am settled impressive cars begin to arrive and park nearby. A black Porsche and a red Corvette arrive simultaneously, their engines purring. Then a turquoise and white 1957 Ford roars by.
I spot a pick up truck parking nearby with a company logo that includes a movie camera and an Illinois license plate. Could that be the movie people? False alarm, the couple inside are here to try out as I am and could not remember if it started at 8 or 10 AM. In the meantime they regale me with photos of movies in which they had small parts a long time ago in their youth.
Eight AM and still no sign of anyone official or any of the people who I thought I needed to precede before the line got too long. Ted Weaver, the owner of the shop is now sitting inside where it’s warmer and I join him. Ted holds court here every morning except Sunday. Interested in history, he can date old photos accurately based on the ages of cars seen in the image. With Ted are five members of his informal group, four men and one woman, all over sixty years of age. Discussions center around local events and people with stories stretched three times past accurate. Having lived here forty years I can tell tales with the best of them. The bench in front has “BS Bench” carved in it for a reason.
Nine AM and the movie people arrive. I’m still the only extra applicant, along with a few car owners. Ted, who OK’d the use of the building thinking it was for Relay for Life, and his group leave. He adds as he meets the agency owner, “Make sure this lady gets a part, she has been here since 7:30 AM.” Tammy, the owner, is all about organization and announces nothing will happen until ten. They go about the process of setting up.
Finally more people appear and by ten there is a small group. My friend, who just arrived, notes “Look at that guy, he clearly has had facial improvement surgery and has head shots to leave.” Doesn’t matter to me, I’m just a retiree having fun. I walk to the application table. As I do someone who just turned up objects as I pass him. “Excuse me, but I’ve been here since 7:30,” I snap back. Tammy gives me the first photo number and application.
After our photo Rita and I wander off to have a leisurely lunch. When I return to my parked car the line has become long and snakes around the parking area. Wow, maybe I was right to get here early. Well not as early as I did, but early.
The actual process takes only five minutes including a photo. We will not be notified pro or con for several weeks.
It is early and when I go home I write this article (This paragraph was added later). Knowing the movie booth closes at 3 PM and I am due at 3:15 to board the train in Blue Ridge for my part-time job, I hatch a plan. Having forgot my own head and body shots I print them out, and then label the back. Arriving in town my hunch is correct; no one is lined up at the movie booth. Smiling I give them my photos, a dozen cider doughnuts and my humorous diatribe on being an extra. I do not tell them I forgot to eat the doughnuts and am afraid if I take them home I will get fat. One young man begins reading the story and all three appear to think I am wonderful. What some people won’t do to get in a movie.
The Short but Efficient Sales Force
The Unexpected Costs of Being a Grandparent
Years ago my brother-in-law Frank noted that every student in the local public schools had a grand career awaiting them in sales. It was true then and is true now. Except that I am now being hit up by my grandchild, not my children.
It starts young, before school. This year Lucas played t-ball. Besides the registration fee, there was the uniform, bat and glove, cleats, and eventually photos. “I like your spiked shoes,” I said to Lucas as he modeled his full uniform. “Grandma their cleats,” he responded with a look meant for uninformed sports duds. I thought we had gotten off scott free as his parents took the financial soaking. Then I was informed about the team t-shirts with your grandchild’s number and name on it.
Now that Lucas has started kindergarten there are school sales. We live two hours away, but that contingency has been covered by the companies profiting from such sales. I can order online. There on the screen I found overpriced cookies, candy, wrapping paper, and other items I do not need. Trying to be reasonable I ordered three less-expensive items. After entering my credit card information I was notified that the transaction did not go through. Being concerned that Lucas get the prize he wanted I reordered. When I checked my e-mail there were two, completed, identical orders. I hate to sound like a conspiracy theory nut, but I wonder. I almost called the number of the regional rep to get one order cancelled, but decided to use the duplicates as Christmas gifts. For sure with these two orders he will get his prize.
One day later, a sale booklet signed by Lucas arrived in the mail. With two items ordered Lucas gets his “free Glow-in-the Dark” shirt on PRIZE DAY.” Free my eye. This time it was magazine subscriptions to benefit the computer classes. Again I made a selection to be used as a Christmas gift. At this rate most of you will be getting a holiday gift that got Lucas a special prize. Expect nothing less.
At this point Lucas is less than two months into his school career. What lies ahead? There are pop corn sales for the boy scouts, candy bar sales for schools, and who knows what else. Remember class rings in high school. Now they sell them in junior high as a “dropout prevention incentive.” Honest.
I understand the needs of schools and youth groups, after all I taught for over thirty years. Still it’s a racket. Who can say no to a grandchild or a neighbor’s child standing on your porch step with a plaintive facial expression? I can almost read their thoughts, “One more sale and I’ll get that prize.” Who am I to deny such greed? Well at least I only have one grandchild, it could be worse. When I am approached by short and familiar looking sales persons, I remind myself that the county has an unemployment problem and our children need all the vocational training we can give them.