28 April 2011

the fates intervened

Over the last few weeks, we've had an awful lot of weather events. We've been in the hallway a lot. We've had no less than three "Stick Picking-Up" outings, and most of those 'sticks' really qualified as small branches. We have fences of ours and fences of friends to mend.

A couple of weeks ago, we were powerless at school, sirens going off, which may have led to chanting Latin and singing hymns while under our desks. We are not nerdy, I promise. A few minutes before we got under our desks, the same storm system was running through our dear friends' neighborhood, knocking over hundred foot oaks and destroying homes, banks, businesses.

26 April 2011

of the black eyed variety

Every spring, I crave black-eyed peas.

This kind:

Not this kind, ever, especially post superbowl xlv:

I was about to say "I don't know why, but every spring I crave black-eyed peas" but that would be a lie.

I know exactly why.

My mother, whilst I was growing up, was not a meat and potatoes kind of girl, but, as in most of America, most of her meals had some type of meat in them. We weren't pot roast people or roast chicken people (like my family now is), but we were spaghetti sauce with ground beef and chicken enchilada people.

But every summer, from April through September, inclusive (because that is summer here), my mother would have what she deemed "vegetable night." This seems silly, because we had vegetables every night, and we were not always meat-ed people (meatless taco salad, cheese ravioli, red beans and rice, black bean soup are just four entrees I can remember that appeared sans meat).

But I understand it now. These vegetable nights were when she could serve vegetables that tasted like God meant them to taste. These vegetable nights were to showcase the vegetables. We didn't have broccoli or carrots or salad like on every other night. These vegetable nights almost always followed a trip to the farmers market.

We had tomatoes, served alone, with dash of salt and pepper. We had corn on the cob, boiled for just a hot minute and then buttered (or, per my mother, margarined, don't get me started, bless her heart), salt and peppered. We usually had cornbread. And we had peas. Sometimes purple hull peas, sometimes I don't even know what, sometimes just the plain ol' pea of the black-eyed variety. If we were lucky, we got fried okra to along with it, or if my mother had her way, sauteed squash, heavy on the onions. And if my baby brother, her baby child, was around, we also had a tomato tart. Because, see, it's his favorite.

These nights found my mother at her best, that is, my mother without measuring spoons. She was just throwing stuff in pots and pans, as she well should be. It is harder for her to do that than it is for me; her motto is, "If I make it the way the recipe says and it tastes good, why would I mess with it?"

Mine is, "I like variety and have an overconfidence that often leads to greatness, but at least as often leads to 'I should have just followed the recipe.'"

Thus, I walk the line.

But I look back on these hot, summer evenings with great joy in my heart. She just threw in butter, salt, sugar, pepper with abandon.

Mama was always working from farmers market peas. She, except on new years, never bought non-fresh peas. She didn't like them enough to try to dress up a supermarket distant fourth place when she could just be patient and wait for a Mississippi backyard blue ribbon champion.

I did inherited neither her wed-to-recipe-ness nor her patience. But I did inherit, with a vengeance, her love of food and her seasonality.

I am growing my herbs (more on that later this week). Paul has planted his tomatoes. My children have been playing in the sprinkler. The air conditioning is on; if I have to sweat, I also get to eat summer vegetables.

I've been incorporating summer veggies into our menus for the last few weeks: I've made a tomato tart (but had to buy basil for it), we've had corn on the cob, and I've made squash.

But this week, I felt it come on. A need for a veggie night.

So, tonight we did it. Though, we'll have better ones later in the year, when all the veggies can be farmers market.

We had corn on the cob (which Ada slathered with butter, I protested, she said, "I gave up butter for lent, Mama, I have to enjoy Easter"); we had biscuit bread - as southern as southern can be; we had a big green salad; we had leftover Easter mac and cheese; and we had black-eyed peas.

Now, fresh black-eyed peas should be nearing unadulterated. God made them a certain way, and you should only add a little onion, salt and pepper to them.

But dried peas in a bag from Kroger need a little more help. And since it ain't culinary summer quite yet, we had the latter.

So I googled and messed around and so forth. Ultimately, I fiddled with a Paula Deen recipe.

And this is what I did. Paul and I highly recommend it. If you have "but I don't like pie-see food Mama" people at your house, cut down on the pepper, chili powder and onion. But as is, this is not a spicy dish - just a little hint of a kick.

1 lb dried black eyed peas, soaked (I used the quick soak method taught on the bag, and was very satisfied - that's a first time for me)

1 onion, sized to preference - I used large - are you shocked? Cut into whatever size pieces of cooked onion you prefer

In a pan over high heat, put a mixture of olive oil and bacon grease, the second of which you have dutifully saved in a jar in your refrigerator for occasions such as this. If you have not done so, you can fry up some bacon really quickly and crumble to throw on top of the black eyed peas. Or you can skip the bacon grease and go with some butter. I think my mixture was about a tablespoon of each.

Throw in onion, saute over medium heat for about 6 minutes, until soft - you don't have to get it to a translucent point.
Then add:

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
3/4 teaspoons pepper
1 teaspoon salt
1 can Rotel (Or, obviously, store brand tomatoes and green chilies, but don't you think everyone knows what Rotel is better than "Can of Diced Tomatoes and Green Chilies", huh, don't ya?)

Stir around for a bit.

Toss in soaked beans and 4-5 cups of water. Bring to a boil. Cover. Cook on Medium or Medium-Low heat for 45 minutes to an hour.

Serve and enjoy! On veggie night or whenever the mood so strikes.

Food 4/25/11 - 5/1/11

Monday 4/25: Bless you, Bean Burritos. Bless you for all that you have been, are and will be again. Bless you for your ease of preparation and for the excitement of each family member when they smell the cumin. Bless you still, for while we eat you often, we are never sick of you. Most especially last night, because it had been almost 2 months since our last visit.

Food From Ages Past

I've been very delinquent in food blogging and somewhat delinquent in food preparing - which, admittedly for me, means cooking 3-4 suppers a week instead of 6, but such is life.

Saddle her back up and hop back on.

Going backwards a bit:

(This is an exercise in warding off alzheimers - try to remember what you've eaten for each meal for the last 5 some odd weeks)

24 April 2011

talk about a mixed bag

I've been social-internetless for the last 7 or so weeks.

By social-internet, I mean mainly that I haven't been on facebook. I did not make myself give up wikipedia-ing the eating habits of various bugs, which I do, an average of once daily, because of questions for the myriad of bug collectors I have around here. I haven't been facebooking. I had not planned on giving up blogging, but it just sort of happened. Why? Because I didn't sit down at the computer to 'quickly check facebook' and end up remembering that I really needed to update this little ol' blog here for fear that my children not have ANY record of their childhood.

So, no facebook and no blogging, and no really reading of blogs. Basically, my only computer time has been at night, with Paul, watching the latest Community on Hulu after the children are in bed and we are literally too tired to talk. We just hold hands and make grunting sounds at the television (computer) indicating whether we think it is funny or not. Which lately, it has not been.

So, did this unplugged (or half-plugged) existence revolutionize our lives? Did it make us feel disconnected? Did we craft more and visit more and play more board games? Were we out of the loop?


I missed a couple of engagement and pregnancy announcements that were made via facebook, and it did sort of make me feel a bit left out. I did pray more. I did read more. Most importantly, I did play more with my children.

Since we homeschool, we are together a lot. We 'do school' for a while each morning, and then at some point, we take a break. During this break, the children play; usually, I'd catch up on email, and inevitably end up searching for creative new recipes or reading about the potty training woes of my friends or researching the latest in latin curricula. None of these is bad. At all.

But over the last few weeks, I've done a lot more playing. Chutes and Ladders (the worst game EVER), Set (the best game EVER), or just I was the patient to Ada's doctor and Eason's nurse. Or I actually got down on the floor and built blocks with Collins, much to his delight.

I like the unplugged feel.

But, I remain fixed in my "everything in moderation" philosophy about the intranets. It's not poison and it's not life. It's yet another thing. Familys are not made or broken, and neither are friendships, based on the internet. There are many a families that spent the entire 1950s and 1960s at home baking bread together who do not speak more than twice a year, and there are families now that are 'connected' and that leads to exactly that - being more connected than they would otherwise be.

I like to hear that others are having potty training woes (Collins's training is on the horizon and I ain't pleased one bit about it); I like to be able to sit and have 'screen time' that is my own; I like to see pictures of my friends' weddings that I could not make because they got married in, you know, the British Virgin Islands or some such.

I also like to build blocks with my baby; talk about a mixed bag.

So, an Easter toast:

To the via media.

Alleluia, Christ is Risen!
The Lord is Risen indeed, Halelujah!

15 April 2011

what is thankful house?

We live in a house.

We are a family of five.

We're trying to be thankful.

I, Ann Lowrey, am the primary author of this here website.   I am the goose, married to my gander, Paul, and we have three goslings, an eldest girl, Ada, and her two little brothers, Eason and Collins, approximately 7, 4, and 2 years respectively.

We do a lot - we cook (and eat), we host (and visit), we discipline (and are disciplined), we educate (and, goodness knows, are educated).

We mess up a lot, being human and all, but the thread that brings us back to center is gratitude.  We are trying to be thankful -  to God and to all of those around us.  For our friends, our health, our things, our appetites.  If only the metabolisms always went along with the appetites.  

Thankful House is just us, and a place for you to come and be thankful with us.  We love help along the way and hope to be that for a few folks as well.  

And, whether we're blessed enough to live in your neighborhood, or you stumbled upon us in a land far away, we are thankful for you.  Stick around, drop us a line, and laugh with us, please.