In high school, I went to a CYO retreat. In the morning we were given powdered, scrambled eggs and grits. We all sat down outside to eat picnic style.
Suddenly heads began popping up from all over the field. It looked quite like a convention of startled prairie dogs.
As each person took a bite of their grits, they realized something was very, very wrong.
Who doesn’t love a Mexican feast? But making one at home is a giant hassle, with all the different dishes that go into it. It takes forever and turns your kitchen into something resembling a frat house on Sunday morning.
But, The Kid and I figured it out; with just a little work, and very little outlay of dough.
At the Matthews house, it’s not even a question. We are true-blue Dukies.
Unfortunately, my fandom is heavily colored by my general dorkiness. As much as I dream about meeting Coach K, I’m also petrified that the opportunity would turn me into a full-on stalker, and I would spend my twilight years in the state pen. So, it’s probably best that I’ve never run into the great man.
A hack is a tip or trick to make your life easier.
Want to play the theme from the Power Rangers on your cell? There’s a hack for that (press 3-3-2-3-9-3).
Have a big honking pimple on prom night? There’s a hack for that (dot with the liquid from an Advil gel cap).
Trying to open one of those impossible blister packs? Yep, a hack for that too (use a manual can opener).
There are a couple of food buzzwords that I think are ridiculous. One is “sexy”. Antonio Banderas is sexy. A plate of risotto is not. Black suede, thigh-high boots with a 4 inch heel are sexy. A well-cooked, medium-rare steak, while beautiful and delicious, is not sexy.
The other word so over-used that it means almost nothing, is “superfood.”
“It's not quite breakfast, it's not quite lunch, but it comes with a slice of cantaloupe at the end. You don't get completely what you would at breakfast, but you get a good meal.” (“The Simpsons”)
In the past few weeks, I’ve had brunch a couple of times at Watts Grocery (1116 Broad St.). Chef/owner Amy Tornquist’s splendid food is full of local, fresh ingredients and has something for everyone.
One day in my high school cafeteria I was delighted to find breaded veal patties.
I sat down with my lunch and my best buds, Bo and Rhi, eager to eat my unexpected bounty.
Excited, I took a bite — and shrieked. It didn’t taste like veal; it tasted like what Alpo smells like.
“Oh my gosh, they’re feeding us dog food!”
I won’t twerk. So don’t ask me.
I also won’t watusi, foxtrot or tango. Not a big dancer. In the first grade, I took ballet, tap and jazz for about six months. My 137-year-old teacher frightened me so much I quit. Thus my chance at being a Solid Gold dancer vanished into thin air.
Mrs. Dawson, our music teacher, gave me the lead role in our second-grade play.
I played the part of a sweet potato. I was completely engulfed in the costume Dad built for me from wire and yards and yards of orange cotton. My best friend, Lynette, had the supporting role of a stick of butter. She carried a knife that was as tall as we were, and together we danced and sang with buttery, carbohydrate abandon.
The first time I met Mildred Council (Mama Dip), she made me mad.
She had come to the bookstore where I worked to sign copies of her first cookbook, “Mama Dip’s Kitchen.” She also brought a few items that she’d cooked up from the cookbook. One of them was her pecan pie.
That pie was the basis of my ire.
Petey laughs at me.
My class reunion was a year and a half ago, but it still makes me mad every time I think about it.
It’s a funny old world in which we live.
Three hundred years ago, a French farmer would trudge into the house for dinner after working all day, doing back-breaking labor to keep his little patch of soil productive, and food on his family’s table. His wife serves him hardy, soul-nourishing peasant food, made with cheap, handy ingredients and cooked for hours.
The day I brought Petey home from the hospital, we also brought home a bunch of stuff.
We had instructions and prescriptions. We had unguents, lotions and a couple of pairs of ugly, strangely-fitting yellow socks (Who was the foot model for those things anyway?). We also carried a big box full of gifts from his amazing, generous co-workers at Duke.
When I was 4, my family went to a Christmas party. The adults were in the living room, and the kids were in the rumpus room. I was just getting ready to go to the restroom when a surprise visitor showed up. It was Santa Claus!
You should have seen me. I was trussed up like a Christmas goose.
I wore a tent-sized apron, and next to my latex swathed hands was a spray bottle of Clorox Clean-up. My hair was tied back, and my glasses were acting as safety goggles. The only reason I wasn’t wearing a face mask is because I freak a wee bit when stuff covers my mouth and nose. But I was drawing infrequent, shallow, nervous breaths.