Food = Love

Food.

We dream about it, talk about it, and even have television networks dedicated to it. Sweet, savory, or spicy, ethnic, vegan or fusion. Whatever our preference may be on a given day — we love it all!

But despite all the hours we spend consuming food, very few people actually enjoy cooking their own food.  Many will do whatever is necessary to avoid standing in front of the stove. It’s much easier to drive-thru, make a reservation, or order take-out.

Family Feasts

For just a moment though, let’s think about my favorite holiday: Thanksgiving! It’s just around the corner and I’m already looking forward to it. But beyond the festive table settings, and dishes laden with delicious food (and the football game we will sleep through afterward), it’s all about the people we love seated around that table.

Thanksgiving Memories, 2017

 

My mother-in-law raised five children, so she cooked meals for a small army. By the time I arrived on the scene, everyone was grown and flown. But family meals were still a regular occurrence. I can’t say whether cooking was a favorite chore in the Manausa household, but it was always a group effort. Everyone pitched in, and like my own dad, my father-in-law did his share of the cooking!

Several family meals became my favorites. “Chuck’s Everyday Waffles” were extra-delicious because they were full of bacon, with a little bit of bacon grease blended into the batter. Truth be told, I’d be in big trouble if I ate them every day. And his fish fries were wonderful family gatherings too, with his own fresh catch on the dinner menu. “Macaroni Mess” was really what we youngsters called American Chop Suey, only there was bacon in that too. Because, as the saying goes . . . bacon makes everything better.

Memorable Meals

Ketchup was always on the table in the Manausa household, particularly if my husband was coming to dinner. (True story: at my bridal shower, my future mother-in-law presented me with half a case of Heinz Ketchup and a can of K2R Spot Remover. It was an ominous sign.) I never really knew if the condiment was meant to enhance the flavor or hide it.

My in-laws have since passed away, but I fondly remember those meals that often ended with a long evening of conversation and cards. It was a time for jokes and laughter, but also a time for sharing stories and giving and receiving advice. I treasured every moment, especially in my early years as a newlywed.

🍴 🍴 🍴

Fast forward 37 years.

Cooking a meal takes planning and preparation, but I actually look forward to it now. I keep adding new skills, testing new gadgets, and trying new flavors. It’s a lot more fun now that it’s not  just another daily chore.

I enjoy cooking for myself when no one else is around, but most of all, I enjoy cooking for those I love. And thankfully, the ketchup usually stays in the pantry. ❤️

Morning Omelet with Bacon, Mushrooms, Tomatoes and Spinach

 

 

 

Breathing Space

When we moved into our house 22 years ago this month, we felt like we were in the middle of nowhere. We loved the rural feel of our new hometown, surrounded by trees and open fields. But our realtor at the time warned us what was coming. She told us not to get too attached to any schools because our kids wouldn’t stay there very long. I had no idea what she meant.

In 1998, the population in Loudoun County, VA was around 142,000 people. By the 2010 census, the population had jumped to 312,000 and was still growing.

As it turns out, the realtor was right. Our kids attended two elementary schools, three middle schools and two high schools. We never moved. The school boundaries kept changing to keep up with the exploding population growth.

Today, our county’s population estimate is 412,000. Clearly, we no longer live in the middle of nowhere!

If Trees Could Talk

As you might imagine, it is difficult finding any open or green space to stroll along in such a crowded area. But I am fortunate to live beside one (as yet) unspoiled street that is still lined with trees and wildflowers. There are several older homes on the street, and one in particular has a massive tree in the front yard. I have no idea what type of tree it is. It has a huge trunk and stands at least three stories tall. My arms would never reach around it. On my morning walks, I often stop just to gaze up into its branches. I couldn’t guess the age of the tree, but I’ll bet if it could talk it would have some amazing stories to tell.

A Need to Breathe

I know I talk about this often, but as I age I am discovering how much I miss being outdoors. Part of that may be because I work indoors, seated at a desk all day.

The other part is remembering my childhood when I was always outdoors. Year-round, in every kind of weather. My playground was the beach in my back yard, and my weekends were often spent camping in the mountains with my family. If I wasn’t splashing in tidal pools, then I was picking up pinecones and chasing chipmunks. To this day, I love the familiar scents of ocean surf and campfires.

At some point I think we all tire of the canned “Febrezey” air and blue screens that surround us. That’s the perfect time to step outside and breathe in the fresh air and blue skies beyond your front door.

I will meditate on the glorious splendor of Your majesty, And on Your wondrous works. – Psalms‬ ‭145:5‬