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.
A couple of days ago I received a note from my niece, Susi:
“Can you do an article on green bean casserole? For 10 years I have been making it and for 10 years it does not turn out. Now it's a running joke to everyone that I'm going to bring this casserole that no one eats. This year is the year for me, I can feel it.”
So I asked The Kid if there was anything I should include in this week’s column; Thanksgiving with an emphasis on food safety. My little chef wrote this informative discourse:
“This holiday season, please don't kill your family.
I recently received a master’s degree at Duke.
It’s not really that impressive. It was obtained at the medical center, and the degree was in survival of the long-term hospital visitor.
Petey’s been a patient for a while at Duke. Every day he’s getting a little better, but for now, this is his home.
We’ve had dogs, hermit crabs and even a pet rock or two. But there is a standing rule -- no rodents allowed.
That’s because two giant, voracious mice already live here — Petey and The Kid. They can never, ever, get enough cheese.
Maybe it’s the dump truck-sized dog, or maybe it’s the two weird looking old people that live here, but in all the years we’ve owned our house we’ve had a cumulative total of about six kids come to our door, trick-or-treating.
I’ve got ’em all snowed.
When my mom is planning a special dinner, she asks me to prepare it. When I make it for Petey, he thinks he must have been a very good boy.
The thing is, my twice-baked potatoes might impress, but couldn’t be easier to produce.
I’m not a fan of Hemingway.
Growing up, I was something of a tomboy, and I still enjoy climbing the occasional tree. But Papa’s work is so testosterone-drenched that by the time I finished reading one of his short stories I’d have a 5 o’clock shadow, and need to get my prostate checked.
From start to finish it was a complete exercise in too darn much. Kroger had 10 boxes of Barilla whole wheat pasta on sale for $10. So I bought 10 boxes. Then I made dinner for Petey and me, using an entire 1 pound box. I don’t know what I was thinking.