Thursday, October 28, 2010

In Memory of BFF Sheila Rice

I met Sheila at the library. She always told me - where all good people are. Somehow she ended up in my car one day. And my life has been forever changed and fulfilled. There are so many instances and days and memories that keep flooding back to me – so I have a few I would like to share, some of my favorites.
Sheila was a storyteller and mostly she talked about her sons and their wives and their children and their children all the time. As you know, she loved all of you. And her stories made us know you too. She knew how to have a whole life – friends, family, interests. And mostly she told stories of Larry and because of that, we all love him so. Sheila loved being a deacon at Brighton Presbyterian. She liked visiting and talking to people. They just need a story and to laugh she would tell me. And she loved the children and the babies. Always the babies.
It was not long after we met that Sheila and I discovered that we both like to read and write and drink lots of coffee. I had never met anyone so well read in my life. We would talk about books and pass them back and forth. When I talked about starting a writers group, she told me she was the 1st on board. And she definitely was. She added the sparkle, the focus and the needed distractions. We decided on venues for everything by where the coffee was best. If there was not any coffee, she threatened to leave. Someone always seemed to find a cup after that.
She loved this city and everything that was happening. She always encouraged others to come to the library and hang out and to go to the events. We went to many together. We watched movies, learned things and laughed always laughed.
One day Sheila heard of an injustice on the women's side of the county jail. She asked me to take her there. We had barely walked in and people already knew her and came up to talk. One officer came up. She shmoozed him. Sheila asked him about, his wife, his kids, laughed, told a funny story from the past and then he asked what brought her there. Sheila mentioned the problem. When she got done the officer started to explain, and said, - You don't understand..and Sheila answered with, - no I don't and either will the people that read the newspaper article. The problem was solved by that evening.
Then there was the declining bus schedule. That was not the “type” the city was trying to draw, she was told. The Type, answered Sheila, and she explained how her life and the life of her children were enriched by being able to use the bus system. The gentleman listened and answered with – I am ashamed, Mrs. Rice. She quickly retorted with – I do not want you to be ashamed, I want you to fix the bus schedule. That's how Sheila was – to the point, but making you smile. The bus schedule never properly got changed and I was blessed with becoming a regular driver for Sheila.
Some days when Sheila and I were together everything we said and heard were song cues. We sang often and loud. We became like a well rehearsed Vaudeville act. We sang and told jokes at Tai Chi and in restaurants and in the car and at the library. She knew how to make a celebration out of anything. If the day was boring, she told the waitress it was her birthday and we got desert and sang. It was forever before I figured out when her birthday really was.
I have a big hole in my heart – but it is so filled with memories. And I am more of a person because Sheila loved me and I love her. Not often do you find someone who will sing with you in a restaurant well after the waitress has kind of asked you not to. But I was blessed enough to be a part of her life to the end. A gift beyond measure. So if you see me singing loudly in a restaurant, as I am drinking coffee – please join in the chorus with Sheila and me.
June 27, 1936 - October 5, 2010

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Summer Cooking

The mighty bean has saved me one more time. Actually over and over again, since this summer I seemed to revel in cold bean salads. Other than cooking out, I am totally at a loss as what to fix in the summer for supper. Fall and Winter cooking is more to my liking. If you follow my blog at all you know that I enjoy making breads and soups and the like. This does not fit the incredible hot summer we experienced.

It started with my DH mentioning that we needed something cool for supper and mentioned he liked what we had eaten previously at an Indian Restaurant. "I can make that.", I responded and made a cold lentil salad the next night. After supper DH complimented me on the Indian lentil meal and then it dawned on me. I bet he doesn't want this every evening this summer. I have to find more recipes.

So the next day I put in my Google search engine - Summer Cold Bean Salads. So if you know how to search you can find a lot of bean salad recipes. But, I never follow a recipe. And I seldom can make the exact same dish twice. But they give me lots of ideas.

First of all I keep my ingredients to a minimum. Each week at the grocery store I usually buy the same vegetables: about 12 tomatoes, 1 cucumber, 1 green pepper, 2 shallots, 1 avocado. Then I work at dividing these up into 2 - 3 bean salads a week. I did add fruit: in black bean salad I added mango and in various others I added some crasinets. I also keep almonds, peanuts and walnuts on hand, to add that little extra.

Then I got into pasta salads. I use the "practically no carbs" pasta and used the same above vegetables. What varies then in the meals? Why don't they all taste alike? The herbs and spices I use. That is what changes the dishes, with the same ingredients with each meal.
I did make Gazpacho this summer also. But, of course, with a twist. I left all the vegetables just diced. The first time I made it with V8 juice, but it was a little too much for DH's tummy. The other times, I used regular tomato juice.

Cooking out is by far my favorite summer meals. Often this summer DH lit the coals and we enjoyed many a meal from it. This is a very simple meal for us. With DH eating meat and me being a veggie, all the meals I make are generally vegetarian with meat on the side for him, which he usually cooks on the George Foreman grill himself, since I overcook meat to death. When we cook out, meat is king, and I need to figure out what to have. Often I have a potato and onion put straight on the coals. Then I went through a phase of having processed veggie burgers on hand, followed by "trying" to make my own. Then through my Depression Cook Book I read of using eggplant for "meat". This is the absolute best "veggie burger" I have ever had at home!(The eating out version being the black bean and brown rice version at Ruby Tuesdays.) I brush the eggplant with olive oil and grill. Then I add just what you would for a regular burger. Or I switch off and just add parmesian cheese, salt and pepper.

What is great is that if I buy an eggplant, slice it and parboil, then I can freeze the egglant "burgers" and have them always ready to grill. You really need to cut them 2 - 3 inches though or they are hard to physically maintain on the grill. I also can have them all winter on the George Forman, when DH decides he wants a burger and chips.

So, from the house, where the wife woke up freaked about supper each day, supper is getting easier, even in the summer. Now that Autumn is upon us, look forward to new installations of what's cooking here!