The road came to a T. I stopped at the stop sign. The voice from my phone told me to turn east. I looked in every direction for a clue to help me figure out which way was east. Did the sun help? Could I see mountains in the distance? What about shadows? Would they help? Finally I turned right. When my phone started squawking, “Recalibrating,” I realized I hadn’t picked east at all.
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The peaches cling
To their pits.
Their skins pocked
By birds and ants.
They fill a bowl
Mounts to pie level.
Get the sugar
Make a crust
Bake it up.
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Uncle Bill must have had big plans for those cherries. When he heard that I’d been climbing the cherry tree in the back yard eating up the cherries he was most unhappy with me. You can’t give back a juicy, sweet cherry once you’ve eaten it. But, really, those particular cherries – illegally seized right from the tree – were the best dang cherries I ever ate.
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Sam didn’t talk about his childhood much, so when he shared a story, I let him talk as long as he wanted. His dad’s girlfriend, he claimed, made the world worst mac and cheese. It was watery and there wasn’t enough cheese. What cheese there was wasn’t right somehow. Sam explained . . .
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It’s funny how many kinds of holiday food I loved in my childhood haven’t made it to the table in the present. I know why – my children didn’t like the same things, so I didn’t fix them. I long for mincemeat pie and cinnamon apples, pea salad and stuffed celery. The one thing we can all agree on, ripe olives, disappear so fast you’d think they were zapped by a ray gun. Food is part of the holiday experience, but having family around is more important to me.
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I don’t know how that particular recipe for mashed potatoes became the centerpiece of holiday meals. It’s been that way for several years. Everyone loves those potatoes and looks forward to them more than the pie or any other goodies at holidays. I could say it is the cream cheese and sour cream that get beaten into the mix, but it’s more than that. It’s about something special just for family. The . . .
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It was 60 years old, that cookbook. You know, the one with the red checkered cover like a tablecloth. The pages were falling out of the binder. Some pages were greasy with use, others were untouched. I found what I wanted in the section on pancakes and waffles. Yes, exactly what I remembered – mama’s pancakes. I pulled a big bowl . . .
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There are no regional foods anymore. Everything is everywhere. You find biscuits and gravy in the motel breakfast room in the far Northwest. You find Vietnamese restaurants on every corner in central New Mexico. Food is no longer seasonal, either. Everything is available all the time. The world is too much with us.
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Snow closed the road. The radio said there were people working to clear it but we might be sitting by the side of the highway for quite a while. My spouse smiled at the kids. “At least we won’t get scurvy. We have that bag of oranges in the trunk. And a carton of strawberries!”
“And blankets,” I added.
Their only concern was that they couldn’t get a signal on their phones.
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How did one of the best foods ever invented by Mother Nature come to signify mental illness? I say we reclaim the word and apply it to nutrition and heart health. Nuts are too important to be associated with an idiot like the current nut at the head of the government.
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