Thursday, January 29, 2009

Iced Tea And Other Southern Food


There was a time when I thought it was wrong to drink iced tea through a straw, and then the Universe taught me a lesson: I was at a Captain D's, having a meal, drinking tea without a straw. I picked up my cup, turned it up to take a sip, and poured tea down the front of my blouse -- INSIDE my blouse. It wasn't much, but it was cold. I didn't make any loud noises and I don't think anyone noticed what I had done, but since then I always ask for a straw for my iced drink, whatever I'm having, even water.

I think it's funny when someone calls iced tea the "table wine of the South." Whoever first said it may have been a Yankee who meant it in a derogatory way, but it's true. (No offense to Yankees, but y'all do sometimes have some funny ideas about the South and Southerners.) Iced tea goes with any food. Just ask any good Southerner.

I think I may be a bad Southerner. I don't like barbecue, or collard greens, or any other greens except maybe spinach; I refuse to even try chittlins; I won't eat any kind of organ meats; and plain white rice is low on my list. I do like grits (except for cheese grits -- cheese grits is for wimps who can't take grits straight); I like fried chicken and fried okra; love shrimp; like sweet potatoes, and green beans cooked to death; love my eggs fried in a little bacon grease; love sweet tea (but I also like unsweetened tea); love biscuits and gravy and mashed potatoes. I guess I'm not such a bad Southerner after all. I like non-Southern foods as well, like New York style cheesecake, deli sandwiches, quiche, and such.

Since I'm on the subject of food, let me just say that I love pie. I'm not awfully particular about the kind of pie, although apple may be my favorite, especially if I can have it with a little cheddar melted over the top and a scoop of vanilla ice cream alongside. I like all the Southern favorites, like pumpkin, sweet potato, and pecan. And then there's coconut cream pie. Once, in the Tennessee town where Jack Daniels is distilled (the name of which escapes me at the moment) I had a slice of walnut pie. That was very good. We have several blueberry bushes in our back yard, so there is the occasional blueberry pie. A restaurant in Tifton serves a nice mango pie. And then there was that Key lime pie I had in Florida several years ago. It was tart, and sweet, and very tasty. Before I get off the subject of pie -- if you ever go to Williamsburg, Virginia, stop in at Christiana Campbell's Tavern and have a slice of rum cream pie with a cup of coffee. I bought the Williamsburg Cookbook just because it had a recipe for that pie in it. All the cooking is done before you add the rum, and if you're a lightweight drinker like me, then you can feel the effects of the rum just by eating one slice of the pie. Really delicious.

Okay, now that everybody's mouths are watering, let me bring you down off this pie high: I'm having SlimFast for dinner tonight. And no pie. Aaarrrgh!

Ta-ta for now.

{Edited to add: Jack Daniels is made in Lynchburg, TN.}

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Kindness


Some things you don't see enough of in the world are random acts of kindness.

Several years ago, Richard and I went to Chattanooga to visit the Tennessee Aquarium. We had a good time, the Aquarium was very impressive and interesting: really huge tanks filled with lots of creatures from southeastern waters.

But the touristy stuff is not about random acts of kindness.

As we were leaving town to drive back home, we stopped at a Waffle House for breakfast. The place was crowded and we sat at the counter. I was looking around, as I usually do in public places, watching the people. An African-American woman came in to eat but the only table available had not yet been cleared off. A man sitting beside me, a customer no less, got up and cleared the table for this woman. He didn't have to do that. He could have waited until the waitress did it, but he didn't. He saw a need and took care of it. It surprised me because I had made a snap judgement about this man based on the way he looked. I would have sworn he had just come off an all-night drunk, plus I thought he was a redneck, of the type not interested in helping a black woman do anything. (Don't get me wrong; I know that not all rednecks are racists.) He taught me several lessons just by his actions. He was a gentleman and his random act of kindness touched me. I remember him when I have an opportunity to choose between being kind and being indifferent. I hope I always make the right decision.

Ta-ta for now.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Fido and Knitting


We got Fido's ashes from the vet. Before he blew out a ligament in one of his hind legs and had to have surgery, we let him go outside. Since he liked to go out in the woods beside the house, we thought we'd scatter his ashes there, but they're sealed up in a nice little urn, so they're now sitting on a shelf in Richard's office. When he was an indoor/outdoor cat, Fido wore a collar and name tag, so Richard hunted up the name tag and glued it to the bottom of the urn.

I'm making a scarf out of shokay, or yak down yarn. Yes, I said YAK, as in hairy bovine creature native to the Himalayas. I found it on the Yarn Market website under the brand name of Himalaya. It's not cheap, so I could only afford enough for a scarf, but then scarves are what I do best. (I'm not the most accomplished knitter on the planet.) The yarn color is Himalayan Sunset, which is sort of a soft orange. I'm more than halfway through, so when I get my new camera, I can post a picture. The yarn looks more like cotton than wool, but it's way softer than cotton. I'm doing the scarf in the Mistake Rib pattern, which is so easy I don't even have to count. I love it.

One of these days I will continue learning how to make socks. I have the leg and heel flap done on my first (ever) sock. I got so carried away with the idea of making socks that I bought enough sock yarn to make eight (8!) pairs of socks. I'm sure when I get through the first one it will be much more of a breeze than it is now. Wish me luck.

That's enough for today. Pictures eventually. Ta-ta for now.

Friday, January 23, 2009

This Is The Beginning And It's About ME


Yes, I have cats. And books. And knitting. I may even post some pictures of the cats and the knitting. You don't really want to see pictures of my books, do you?

My name is Marie and I have a husband, Richard, and three cats. We did have four cats up until a couple of days ago when Fido, who was not quite ten years old, passed away. We will miss him a lot. You tend to get attached after ten years. Fido used to love to sleep in my lap and was really quite insistent about it. My lap can usually be found in a recliner, and if I tried to keep him from jumping up, he would just get up on the sofa and come across the end table. Tricky little bugger. Every Saturday morning, Fido and I would take a nap together while my laundry was drying. He also liked to be on the bathroom vanity while Richard was brushing his teeth and/or shaving. As I said, we will miss him a lot.

Why did we name a cat Fido? Good of you to ask. The first day he showed up at our house, Fido followed Richard home just like a puppy, and when Richard was working in the yard, Fido would follow him around -- just like a puppy. So what else could we call him?

Our other three cats, Lila, Dashiell, and Bennis, are very nicely taking up the slack in Fido's absence. Lila, who thinks she's the queen of everything, and Dashiell, who thinks he's alpha cat, also like to be lap cats. Bennis is a cat we rescued from a barn in Cornelia, GA. She's not particularly sociable. She likes to be by herself and the only time she gets in my lap is when there's food involved. All three cats live exclusively indoors. There will be pictures eventually.

Well, that's enough for today. I know I didn't get to the books or the knitting, or really to ME, but a blog is an ongoing process. Ta-ta for now.