Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Fried Green Tomatoes

Some foods are more than nourishment.

Some can make you think of a place, take you back to your childhood, or bring up a special memory.

When you hear Fried Green Tomatoes, you think South.

They have always been cooked here, perhaps because they were always abundant in the spring and summer time. The great southern lady, actress, and writer Fannie Flagg popularized them worldwide with her book Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, which was made into an award-winning movie.

One can't cook and eat fried green tomatoes without thinking about the movie.

We didn't have them a lot at my house when I was growing up. My mom mixed them with crookneck squash and fried them together. After the tomatoes ripened, we had them sliced at every meal (yes, including breakfast).

Would you like to cook some of your own? Here's what I do.

Collect some green tomatoes when they are about the size of a tennis ball.

In a shallow container, mix 1/2 cup self-rising flour

and 1/2 cup self-rising cornmeal mix

and 1 tablespoon Cajun seasoning mix. You can just add salt and/or pepper if you don't like them a little spicy like I do.

Mix all together well.

Slice green tomatoes into approximately 1/2" slices.

This is just about perfect.

Dip in dry mixture, turning to coat everywhere.

Crisco oil should be heated to about 350 degrees. If you don't have a thermometer, put a little piece of bread in the oil. If it floats immediately, the oil is hot enough. If it immediately blackens to a crisp, the oil is too hot!

Carefully put slices in the hot oil and cook from three to five minutes. Take out and drain.

I use a sheet pan for draining. First, since I strive to be environmentally aware, I put some newspaper in the pan.

I cover the newspaper with paper towels, so the food never touches the newsprint. It's a good way to recycle newspaper and save paper towels.

Straight out of the oil!!

Cover the slices with a paper towel on top to soak up more oil.

Serve and enjoy!

Many restaurants have them as an appetizer now, or as a choice of vegetable. Last week, I had country ham with fried green tomatoes served together. It's up to you.

For lunch today, I had these fried green tomatoes and boiled okra. YUMMY!!

Check out the farmers market for some fresh green tomatoes.

Your family will love you!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Dear Lord, won't you let me win the lottery?

Sometimes, I wonder what God the Father thinks about some of our prayers.

I'm talking about the unsaved, those who refuse to accept free salvation, thanks a lot but not today, but, deep down, think they are so special that God is just waiting to give them whatever they want.

I'm talking about those who have God confused with Santa, and only think of Him when they have something to add to their wish list.

I'm talking about really, really stupid prayers.

For example:

A drought-stricken community gathers together to pray for rain. Somewhere in the crowd, a devout teenager prays that it will rain on Monday, but not on Sunday, because if it rains on Sunday, her hair will get frizzy, and she has an awesome date with an awesome guy, which is far more important than the crops blistering in the field.

A student earnestly prays, even turns off his music in reverence, that God will help him on the big test today. It's true his teacher gave him all the notes he needed, and all week-end to study, but he had to drive circles around McDonald's for hours during the week-end, then felt a little tired on Sunday and had to sleep it off. Then a friend had called last night, who really needed to talk, and he just couldn't refuse him. So, you see, God, it is not my fault that I'm unprepared, and You just need to take care of it. Didn't You say You would give me anything I want?

A woman, who refuses to do any volunteer work because she just doesn't have time, cries all afternoon because a lady on her soap-opera is facing a very serious operation. After supper, she calls all her friends and asks them to pray for her friend Penny. Later, when Penny made a miraculous recovery, she does her duty and gives God the praise.

A man, who lacks the wisdom to check the gauges on his car before beginning a trip, sees that his gas light is on, and prays God will make a gas station, with magic concrete and magic gas pumps and magic people working there, appear on the side of the road before he runs out of gas. Maybe God will also put in a magic coffee machine, just for him.

An obese person has prayed for months that God will melt the pounds off her body, but so far, she hasn't lost an ounce. She just doesn't get it. She is praying as seriously as she knows how. She always prays over her four course dinners, always is extremely nice to the young people working at Krispy Kreme and Burger King. She even prays about it when she wakes up at two in the morning with a burning tummy and has to have some ice cream to cool it down! She is trying to be patient and thinks it may just be God's will that she is fat.

An elderly man, lungs rotting from years of abuse and on oxygen, prays that God would help him quit smoking. He prays as he stops his truck and goes into the convenience store to buy more cigarettes. He prays as he takes his oxygen tank off and goes outside to light one up. He sucks the toxins in and wonders when God is going to reach down and knock that cigarette out of his hand.

After all, God is rich, full of wisdom, and knows all about the world. It would just be so much easier if He did everything for us, then we wouldn't have to be bothered with reading the Word, meeting to worship,working for a living, or doing any of the things he asked us to do. Surely, He wouldn't expect us to be uncomfortable or inconvenienced! Not us. We are the blessed people. We are special.

Maybe we should all just drink milk because it is too hard to chew real food.

Remember this: The person who plants a little will have a small harvest, but the person who plants a lot will have a big harvest. 2 Corinthians 9:6

Monday, June 21, 2010

Mars Hoax

Sharing from Dr. Mel Blake:

Hi Everyone,

I have gotten several emails with reference to this topic and so I thought that I
would make a collective reply. It seems the Mars Hoax 2010 has started.

Some of you over the next little while will get an email announcement
with regards to a spectacular close approach of Mars (closer than any time
for recorded history). It will say that this event will take place in August and be
the event of your lifetime to see the red planet and it will make claims on how big
Mars will appear in the sky. It all looks very official and sometimes even has NASA
logos. This is because they are reproducing NASA public domain notices.

This email is a hoax. The Red Planet made its closest approach for decades
in August, 2003 around the dates the email quotes. Ever since then, every year,
around this time of year the hoax email has re-surfaced and generated lots of
public inquiries and confusion. I can only guess the motive for the hoax.
It could be simply mischief or else it could be some vendetta against
astronomers. Maybe a student got a bad grade on astronomy?
I suspect it might also be a way to send viruses, so it you get
it and it has an attachment, I wouldn't open it. It might also be used as a way
to test active email accounts. Maybe the folks at computer services might have
other suggestions.

In any case, ignore the Mars email.

For your information, Mars is not particularly close in August. The best planet
to watch then will be Jupiter.

Oh, and Happy Summer Solstice! today the Sun reaches its farthest point
north for the whole year and we will have the longest day and shortest night.
They'll be celebrating at Stonehenge.

Mel Blake
Director, UNA Planetarium and Observatory
Dept Physics and Earth Science

Friday, June 18, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Fireflies/Lightning Bugs

Forget the 90 degree days.

Forget the farmers tilling the soil with their big green machines.

Forget that the summer solstice, that time when the days are longest, has not yet arrived.

You know it's summer when the fireflies come out.

In long ago summers, we all went outside after supper. It was cooler there than in the house, where Mama had been cooking and canning all day.

Our parents would sit on the porch, more often than not with a friend or relative that dropped by. The younger set would chase fireflies, or lightning bugs. We would run through the familiar yard chasing them until it was dark and the dew formed on the grass around our bare feet.

Mama always kept jars that were no longer good for canning for us to capture lightning bugs in. With a hammer and a nail, we would poke holes in the top of the lid to allow the little creatures to breathe. We would often forget them, if Mama made a watermelon call, or some other distraction grabbed our attention, and the poor things would be shriveled at the bottom of the jar by the next morning.

We did experiments--pinching off the part that lighted and rubbing it on ourselves with the hope we would glow. It never worked. Not everything was meant to glow, including me.

It's still a mystery how they produce such efficient light (our light bulbs produce 10% light and 90% heat; lightning bugs produce 100% light and no heat). Wikipedia describes it like this:

Light production in fireflies is due to a type of chemical reaction called bioluminescence. This process occurs in specialised light-emitting organs,
usually on a firefly's lower abdomen. The enzyme luciferase acts on luciferin,
in the presence of magnesium ions, ATP (adenosene triphosphate), and oxygen to
produce light.

Did that clear up all your questions?

Lightning bugs love moisture, and you can usually see them best after a rain. They are not common in well-lighted places; you made need a ride to the country to see them best. After all, if the lights are a form of courtship like some scientists think, it would just be wasted effort in places where the glow can't be seen clearly.

Lightning bugs are just another blessing provided for us to enjoy. There is so much beauty around us! We just need to slow down and open our eyes!

May what our Master Jesus Christ gives freely be deeply and personally yours, my friends. Oh, Yes! Galatians 6:18

Friday, June 11, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Dewberry Pie

I have always loved them.

One of my earliest memories is walking with my mom and siblings along the road, looking for dewberries along the sides. My mom always tried to collect enough for a cobbler, and we didn't help a lot because we ate the ones we found instantly.

Dewberries are a lot like blackberries, except they grow on brambles, or wandering briers, instead of being upright. They are more tart that blackberries, and actually taste more like raspberries. They are common all over the country, but you have to be persistent to find them. I have never found enough at one time to make jelly or jam.

The plants begin to bloom in mid-to-late April here, and that's the best time to look for them, their white blossoms easily identifiable. The blossoms develop into tiny green berries, which turn to red as the grow, and finally turn to black when they are mature.

You have to really want dewberries to go to the trouble to get them. The brambles are covered with stickers, and are usually located at inconvenient places. Exhaust toxins and other nasties prevent me from eating anything from the roadside now. The best place I have found for dewberries is construction sites that have been undisturbed for at least a year.

I spotted some blooms in April on one of my many wanderings, and I have been watching them since. Unfortunately, many birds love them as much as I do, and they usually get the bulk of them while I am occupied elsewhere.

Yesterday morning, in a humid mist, while most of you were still asleep, I started out with my walking stick and a Ziplop bag. My hiking shoes are now covered with red mud, but I found almost three cups of the ripe berries!

The dewberries are fragile, and must be treated gently. Wash them in a colander, removing any husks or multi-legged creatures.

For three cups of berries, I added a heaping cup of sugar.

Add enough water to cover the berries and sugar.

Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until the water is a dark, thick syrup.

Make a batter of 1 cup sugar, 1 cup flour, and 3/4 cup milk.

Heat your oven to 350 degrees.
Melt a stick of butter in a 9" x 13" pan.

DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT USING ANYTHING EXCEPT REAL BUTTER! If you can't eat butter, make some gelatin and put the berries on top.

When the butter is melted, add the batter.

Cover the batter with the berries..it even looks yummy raw!

Bake about thirty minutes, and just look! So sorry you can't smell it!

Serve it while it is warm enough to melt some ice cream.

My vocabulary is limited here. There is no way I can describe the mouth-watering bliss of butter, sugar, and sun-ripened dewberries!

Dewberries may be a reminder from God that the best things in life are free, but you have to be willing to search from them.

And, sometimes, get your shoes muddy.

It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto thy name, O most High. Psalm 92:1

Friday, June 4, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Superstitions

There was a new baby boy born this week to our friends at the House of Hope.

It is always such a joyous occasion to have a wee one in the house.

Several years ago, I went through two successful pregnancies. Things were a lot different in the seventies. It seemed my mother and grandmother had a superstition for everything I did while I was pregnant.

First of all, it wasn't supposed to be mentioned in public until the tummy protruded to a point that it could no longer be denied.
(Yes, Grandma, we went past the holding-hands stage. I think most married people do!)

At about my eighth month, my firstborn was kicking and I allowed my unmarried sister to put her hands on my tummy to feel it. My grandma was so embarrassed, she got up and left the room. (I must have been a wild woman!)

During my mother's and grandmother's pregnancies, they didn't go to church, the store, or anywhere public. They thought it best to be modest.
However, after the baby was born, they thought it perfectly acceptable to whip their breast out during church for the child to suckle.

Here are just some of the superstitions concerning pregnancy. There are many, many more than those listed here.

1. If you lift your hands above your head you could wrap the umbilical cord around the baby's neck.

2. Mothers need to stay in the house for six weeks after having the baby so their pores will close.

3. Buying clothes for the baby early is bad luck; you're tempting fate.

4. Pregnant women should avoid cats; they might "steal the babies breath."

5. If a woman wants the sex of her child to be male she must wear blue all through the pregnancy.
Likewise, if she wishes the sex of her child to be female, she must wear pink throughout the pregnancy

6. Pregnant women were not allow to spin wool in the past as this meant her child would die by hanging.

7. Pregnant women were forbidden to prepare food or help with farm animals as they may contaminate the animals.

8. If a woman is having problems conceiving then all she had to do to ensure success was to hug a pregnant woman.

9. Long ago, women were confined in order to ward off evil or the fairies swapping the child at birth.

10. If a woman wants her child to be fair in color then all she had to do was to look at a corpse.

11. It is lucky for a pregnant woman to step over a black cat. It is unlucky if she steps over any other color cat.

12. If a baby kicks on the left-hand side of the womb it is female and on the right, it is male.

13. If a pregnant woman steps over a grave this will ensure premature death for her child.

14. Lions and tigers become enraged at the approach of a pregnant woman, so stay away from the zoo!

15. Lots of heartburn means the baby will have lots of hair.

Humans have to have an answer for everything. In the days before we could google anything, people looked at patterns and past experiences to come up with their answers. Most we hear now are just silly, but some "superstitions" could be accurate.

My grandmother had lost a child soon after it was born; she was going to do everything she could to prevent that from happening to anyone else.

My two sons are now strong adults that are the joy of my heart. I can't recollect ever stepping over a black cat when they were in my womb.
Both have lots of hair, so I guess the heartburn was worth it.