If You Don't Laugh, You'll Cry - Laughing's Better!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Brunswick Stew

Recently, I ran across a recipe given to me by a grand cook , utterly delightful person, and personification of a southern lady [ with a rite good bit of mischief thrown in].

I love Brunswick Stew but haven’t made it in a good while.  As my mama used to say, I like my own cooking. Since I taught my kids myself, I like their cooking too, although, they have far surpassed me. Anyway, I’ll give you the recipe then suggest changes.


Lightly brown :
1 pound lean ground beef
1 large onion, chopped

In large pot OR slow cooker:
Add above plus:
28 oz can of diced tomatoes Or crushed
1 can creamed corn
Small can tomato sauce- Not tomato paste
2 boneless pork chops
2 bread slices, torn into pieces
Salt and pepper to taste, Wooster sauce, garlic powder , Tabasco, etc. - some folks add bbq sauce

Cook very slow about 3 hours ----- or all day on low in crock pot  or 3-4 hours on high. Stir and check seasonings. I prefer this to be fairly thick but you can always add, a little at a time, water or broth, or v-8, or tomato juice.

When pork is very tender, remove, shred, and return to pot.
This keeps well for a day or two and can be frozen in small batches
to have for lunches. Serve in bowls as you would soup.
Be careful if reheating because it will burn quickly. This is one time when a microwave is really helpful. I used to use a double boiler but don’t hear much about them anymore.

Some folks add: boneless chicken breasts, baby lima beans, more corn, diced white potatoes, kitchen sink etc.---
Corn muffins go well with this, but Fritos  will do just fine too.

Think this kind of originated when people cooked squirrels, possums, coons, skunks  etc , Glad I didn’t live back then !

Just a note from the same friend:
She told me about asking her helper to make deviled eggs to carry to a family picnic. She was surprised to have to explain how to make the eggs. But she did, and ended by saying , just pin the halves together with a toothpick so they’ll be easy to carry.At the picnic, people started  removing the picks and laughing.The eggs were carefully fitted back together but with no filling. Turns out the helper did not know what to do with all the yolk filling so gave it to friend’s five yr. old son to eat.No, the child did not want lunch, that day.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Memories of Childhood

My sister in law often says that Don, my older brother, gets a kick out of reading my memories about our family. These are not in any order, just as I remembered them..

I remember:

·         Don teaching some expensive, finely trained hunting dogs to chase rabbits.

·         Our pretty little mare, Molly, actually Don’s horse, biting Don’s back, leaving teeth marks. Dad was so angry, he was ready to sell her but Don insisted she was just trying to bite a fly that had landed on him. He rarely wore a shirt, outside, during the summer. 

·         When I was about five, I went complaining to Mom because the boys would never play what I wanted to play. She agreed and told the boys I could pick the next game. I chose dolls. Next thing I knew, they’d lined up my babies, outside, and were shooting them with rubber guns. I think they had made the guns from old inner tubes…. Slingshots?

·         One Thanksgiving, we spent the day just riding through the Smoky Mountains. Dad found a country hotel serving dinner with all the trimmings. We were the last diners of the day so were encouraged to eat a lot. Later, we stopped on the side of the winding road so Dad and the boys could cut a Christmas tree. They tied it on top of the car for its ride home. To me, nothing smells as good as a freshly cut pine tree.

·         Both our parents loved the mountains and as far as I know all their kids do too. Mother used to say, sometimes, that she just had to get to the mountains so that she could breathe better.

·         During most of the WW2 years, we lived on a farm --- so many of our memories stem from there, for lots of reasons. Our house, new I guess, lacked running water, gas, and electricity. There was a wartime shortage of pipes, wire etc. One had to get on a list and wait. There was a bathroom, but no running water etc. At first, we had to haul water from a well and heat it on top of the wood range. I still have burn scars on my arms from that stove. Our best source of heat was the dining room fireplace so that was mostly where we lived. Dad placed 3 or 4 big, oil lamps in the middle of our dining room table. We ate there, did homework, read the newspaper there.

·         We saved our pennies, them together, and bought “funny books” (comic books) and little cars [about the size of matchbox cars now]. I think the cars were 5 or 10 cents. 

·         The boys had elaborate tree houses in a big, old apple tree in our backyard. While they were at school one day, I climbed to Bobby’s treehouse, way high up, When I looked down, I had my first awful fear of heights…. Still have it. Finally, Mom came looking for me. She must have been worried because she said, “If you don’t come down right now I’m going to break a switch and wear you out!” I quickly scuttled down, never stopping to wonder how she was going to manage to climb that tree and spank me. (Thankfully, I thought of that, years later, when I found 2 yr old Bruce on top of our house, afraid to come back down the ladder. I was so pregnant with Dee, I couldn’t see my feet. Some workman had left the ladder propped against the house and I told Bruce to get down “If you don’t come down right now you’re going to get a spanking.” He was more afraid of the spanking than being up that high.)

·         Our last family dog was Pete, a big Staffordshire Terrier [pit bull]. They ordered him from a kennel up north , pure bred and exceedingly intelligent. He was always a house dog and had to be walked. He was about the size of a one lb roll of sausage when he arrived. Bobby did not like the dog in the room he shared with Don. However, Bob came to bed later so Pete went to bed with Don. When they heard Bob coming, Pete would dive under the cover and flatten himself against Don, hardly breathing. Years later, Bobby and I had a good laugh about it. Bob said he never let on that he knew Pete was there – just too funny!

·         The summer that I was15years old, Dad and Mom took Don and me on a wonderful trip to Washington, D.C. for a few days then on to New York City. We saw most of the tourist places in D.C. and took a guided tour of New York. One great memory is going to the Diamond Horseshoe nightclub. Some of the waiters recognized Dad, so they sent out for a case of baseballs for him to autograph. When we first went in, we were seated almost to the door, sorry seats. When they recognized Dad, we were moved almost to the stage.

·         When we first moved back to Atlanta, finding a place to live was a nightmare. Don spotted a moving van in front of a big old white frame house, on 9th Street. The house was just down the street from his school. He got to a phone, called Dad, and I think we had a house by night fall. I loved that house. 

·         The house was just one block from Piedmont Park, an easy walk. Our family and Mom’s liked to picnic and we had lots of picnics there. I took my kids there to feed the ducks and walk around the lake. One picnic tho, we met Dad’s brother and family at North Fulton Park [now Chastain Park]. After lunch, Don, Frank and I were allowed to walk to another section with fish ponds and a tunnel. This was pre WW2. I was about 5 maybe, Frank 7, Don 8. Well, Frank leaned too far over a pond and fell in. He came up and went back down. I guess we’d have just left him but Bobby came to check on us and pulled him out.

·         Bobby and Don were Baptized together on Pastor Awtrey’s arm, at First Baptist Church, Smyrna,Ga. Our Grandfather Hasty, along with our Cousin Patricia’s husband’s grandfather, donated the original land for that church.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Memories - Dang Old Ones, Too!

Recently , daughter Dee wrote a cute blog about how she grew up. Since I was there too, I’d say her memories were mostly accurate.Then I started thinking about my own childhood [1930’s and 40’s] and all the many‘’ likes and differences’’. So we decided I’d give it a shot.

Well, my goodness, everyone loved clowns ! Down deep, I knew they were just people, in funny clothes. Why even oldest brother Bobby had a clown costume and carried a small pig on a leash, at brother Don’s 6th birthday party. It was a circus party, held in our big front yard.I was not quite 3 yrs old so that’s about all I remember. Later years, it was great fun to watch all the clowns pile out of the tiny car at the big Barnum and Bailey circus.

Halloween was no big deal, at all.I am certain that my mom never spent a red cent on candy to give away nor do I recall anyone at the door asking for any. She might have made a pumpkin pie but that was more for Thanksgiving.The1930’s were post Depression years and money was tight.

There was one Halloween that really stands out. We had neighbors, the Cooks, who were good friends.Mother and Mrs. Cook dressed up in their husband’s old work clothes and old felt hats to cover their hair.Don’t recall much about makeup except eyebrow pencil freckles. Mr.Cook and my dad were tall men with five ft.tall, little plump wives.Dad had to work that night so our house was the base of operations. After dinner it was dark enough for 5 boys and one little girl … and 2 very odd looking Charlie Chaplin tramps to walk around and pull tricks on folks. I do remember one where they filled an old, long stocking with sand. We got behind bushes and pulled the fat snake across the sidewalk just as people got to it. Another trick was to knock on front doors and ask people for food. There were plenty of tramps roaming around in those days so this was not so unusual.No one recognized the tramps and they only knocked on doors where they knew folks.Some shared apples, etc. and some threatened with shot guns.

The greatest story of the night tho’ was at the Cooks’ house. Mrs. Cook rang the doorbell at her own home and her husband came to the door. Changing her voice, she asked for food. He went back to the kitchen and returned with sandwiches, fruit etc., very kind.He did not recognize his own clothes!

Christmas was about the Baby Jesus, a real pine tree, mostly homemade decorations, and mostly mom-made presents which we wrapped in thin, colored tissue stuck together with seals of Santa and angels. [The seals had a heavy glue on the backs that I got to lick.] We sang carols and had a big meal and lots of cakes. I got one of the last baby dolls made during WW2 ,which Dee keeps in a glass case, so beautiful.

Both my parents came from huge families so my brothers and cousins were my playmates. I had one girl cousin, Judy , who was 18 mos older, my favorite and, often only playmate. Most of the time, I was the boys’ tag-a-long. I played cowboys and Indians, army, little cars, and board games. I can neither throw or catch very well. As time went on, I had my music, my books, and my dog but neither dog nor I ever had a cotton picking Play Date!

I ate peanuts and peanut butter all my life and like all nuts actually, even a few human ones. My aunt Hazel and Uncle Gan [Orlando] Awtrey pretty much kept me alive with their CARE boxes when I was at UGA. They always sent soups, peanut butter, jelly, tuna fish, coffee etc.

We said, Sir and Mam. and Mr. or Mrs. or sometimes, Sister, Aunt or Uncle. I called the dear, family friend for whom I am named, Mrs. Elva MacEachern, “Sister.” Dad called her Mrs. Mac. The folks, going back to the grandparents, were long time Marietta friends.

Not sure but think I was in college before my parents bought a secondhand, small TV that my uncle got rid of.

We did have a radio that I listened to a lot. There were some great programs and excellent music and later WW2 news [our man in London], Mayor of the Town, Judy Canova, Hit Parade, Bell Telephone Hour, Henry Aldrich, Lone Ranger etc etc…

Of course they played records. Dad loved Bing Crosby and we listened to Gene Awtrey, and rarely The Grand Ol' Opry [mother didn’t care for that] on Sat. night.

It was a different world, seems like. We minded our parents, teachers and other adults. We did not "talk back’’ and telling a “bad story” [lie] was a sin. Dad gave the spankings tho’ I only got one which was well deserved. He only used the “hand to bottom” method but Mother preferred switches.

We each had a 6th birthday party as did my two kids. Other times, birthdays were just family and a delicious cake. Also, we sometimes got socks and undies. Toys were for Santa to bring.

Yes, our growing up years were different but all things considered, we had good parents who loved us and we all turned out just fine.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

What Did You Say?

One is supposed to write about what one knows. So guess I can’t write about being a man in his eighties or being the Thompsons’ dog. I can, however, write about being a woman, in her eighties. It stinks. 

End of blog.

Just kidding, because I don’t want to have to try to think up something else to do this afternoon... Since I have been a widow for 20 years one thing I’ve learned is that I’m not even half as fascinating as I thought I was.

I know tons of stuff and have also learned that I can clear out a room full of people in one minute nine seconds when I try to educate them or tell about olden times. For example: our entire family sat by our one radio listening to President Roosevelt speak. As a child, I knew the sound of his voice, his wife’s name, and his dog’s name. FDR was the only president folks my age knew until World War II was nearly over. My aunts - six of them plus three wives of Mother’s brothers - were often present so I picked up juicy tidbits whispered back in a large kitchen. For a long time, I was the youngest grandchild in Mother’s family and they apparently thought I was deaf. I could have blackmailed any one of them! Plus, they often said outrageous things about whomever was not present. None of the women in my family liked Eleanor Roosevelt because she did lots they disapproved of  - her speaking voice was awful; and she was just plain ugly. Of course, in later years, she was highly respected and I give her lots of credit for her role of first lady and the fact that she tolerated FDR’s foolishness! She should have had him castrated.

Being old just about changes everything. Few things that you put in your mouth - or smell, or touch - are the same, or in some cases not even available. That’s not all bad, actually. When I was growing up and the doctor told Mother to give me half an aspirin, she had to cut one in half then dissolve it in water then threaten me with murder to get me to take it. I still remember that awful taste. By the time Dee was born, baby aspirin were like a miracle. Smell also dulls as one grows older - I love perfume but with only a partial sense of smell, I hope I don’t absolutely reek!

When Dee and I used to go out more often, we noticed that some people would talk to her or ask questions as if I were not standing right there. Dee most often just said “Ask her, she can talk.” At times, I was so tempted to do or say something really gross. But drooling is so messy and if I got tickled, I’d wet my pants sure as hell ! Ugg! Nurses in doctors’ offices are bad about it. One even went out to the waiting area not too long ago, and asked Dee questions she had just asked me. A young intern, doing a rotation with my doctor, actually called my cardiologist to see if I’d really had a procedure she was trying to talk me into. You see, I think this problem has been exacerbated by the onset of Alzheimers and other forms of dementia. Old folks have always been with us and we just accepted their odd or funny behavior. They sometimes forget things, talk loud, or give unwanted advice. Oftentimes they take pain medications, as I do for arthritis, and those can have side effects.

Years ago, in Marietta, Mother had a dear friend who lived about 7 or 8 houses down the same street. Her elderly little dad would wander away, ring every doorbell and ask each lady of the house if she’d please go to bed with him? They just told him “no” and closed the door. Someone would call his daughter and she would come get him.

If you live with or are a caregiver to an old person, God Bless You! Give them a little extra time; speak a little louder, and try to keep a sense of humor. I am blessed that my beautiful Dee takes exquisite care of me but there are some fine nurses too.

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Singing With Aunt Willy

Long ago, in the county of Cobb, all well-bred young ladies were given piano lessons. Granny and here three sisters were no exception – nor were Wilma and her six sisters. 

Some were more talented than others, and my Great Aunt Willy was truly blessed. As far as I know, she played the piano at the Acworth First Baptist Church her entire life. They had no pipe organ. 

Uncle Gan [Orlando] Awtrey, my aunt hazel’s husband, led the music for the church services. 

I spent many weekends with Hazel and Gan, especially after I received my driver’s license, because I could borrow a car from my parents. The only rule Hazel and Gan had for me was that I was required to sing a solo on Sunday morning at church. The congregation knew me and they were very kind. I loved singing for them. 

My only problem was that, at times, I ran completely out of oxygen. I’d had very very serious voice lessons since I was 12 years old. Believe me, I knew how to breathe properly. However, most of the time Aunt Willy chose the hymn she wanted me to sing. She didn’t care much for anything more formal where she had to play the way the music was written. Every singer knows not to breathe in the middle of a word. Take the word “salvation” for example. Willy played kind of like Liberace, with lots of trills up and down the keyboard, so between each syllable she’d run up and down, executing trill after trill, until very often I had to breathe – or keel over in a dead faint.

The church had no air conditioning, so I seldom wore stockings during the hot summers and I always sat in the front row of the choir loft. 

One Sunday morning, as I started to sing my solo, which was quite serious, I noticed everyone giving me great big smiles. My dad was there that day and he looked like he was going to bust out laughing! Well, I’m here to tell you, The Old Rugged Cross had never been so well received. After I sat down, I looked down and discovered the curtain around the choir loft stopped about 12 inches from the floor. I’d stepped out of my high heels and was happily wriggling my bright red painted toes as I sang.