Wednesday, November 19, 2014

In my writing class we were given a challenge where we all wrote the first paragraph of a story and then gave that paragraph to someone else to finish the story. This is what I wrote from the paragraph that my friend Pat gave to me.

                                   Tasmanian Devil

Anne Marie described her 2½-year-old granddaughter, Betsy, as a Tasmanian devil. I started laughing at her on the phone and told her that was quite an interesting description. “Why do you call her that?” I asked.

“For starters,” Anne Marie began, “Whenever Betsy is up to something and sees her mother coming, she automatically starts saying, ‘Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry.’

“Last week my daughter-in-law, Angie and Betsy went to the grocery store. When they got home, Angie took Betsy out of her car seat, carried her into the house and started unloading bags from the car. She was bringing in her third load of groceries when she heard ‘sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry.’ Looking at where the ‘sorries’ were coming from, she saw Betsy sitting with an empty egg carton and 18 broken eggs splattered all around the kitchen.”

I couldn’t contain my laughter as I pictured this mess. And . . . I was thrilled that the scene wasn’t unfolding in my kitchen.

“That’s not all,” Anne Marie continued, “later, that same day, Angie put Betsy down for a nap. Two hours later when Angie went to check on her, Betsy was sitting in the middle of a massive pile of toys dumped on a blanket in the middle of the room. With a huge grin on her face she declared, ‘I made a boat!’ It took Angie and Betsy over half an hour to return every last Lego and piece of play food back to its proper place.”

“I remember when my kids used to do things like that. The playroom looked like a bomb blew up in Toys R Us,” I teased back.

“Then to top it all off, less than a week later, Angie was reading the kids a bedtime story. Betsy got bored and started wandering. Even though her mother called her back she kept going, ending up in the kitchen where she found a strange yellow object on the counter. It turned out to be a 10-pound kettlebell that Angie uses as part of her exercise routine. Thirty-five-inches of Betsy couldn’t reach it very well, but through sheer determination and persistence she maneuvered it to the edge of the counter where it promptly fell on Betsy’s big toe. Blood and tears infused the peaceful bedtime ritual. The rest of the evening was spent at Urgent Care getting x-rays and bandages.

“We thought maybe the run-in with the kettlebell would teach her a lesson about being obedient, but the very next day when Angie went into Betsy’s room she heard ‘sorry, sorry, sorry.’ Betsy was putting the finishing touches on her latest piece of art – scribbled on the bedroom wall. Angie was fit to be tied.”

By this time I was laughing hysterically. “I like that kind of kid.” I said, “I love to be entertained by them, but I’m always glad when they go home in someone else’s car! Good luck, Grandma!” 

~Anita Wiggins November 2014

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Kitchen Gremlins

 I remember liking everything my mom cooked except liver & onions and stuffed zucchini. You’ll likely never find liver & onions on the list of options to eat at my house (for obvious reasons), and it wasn’t until after thirty-six years of cooking for my family and a love for gardening that I even attempted to make stuffed zucchini (which, by the way was delicious).

I, like most gardeners, have experienced the bittersweet dilemma of what to do with a plethora of summer squash. Zucchini bread is delicious with its sweet taste and little flecks of green, but that only takes care of one or two squash.
A dish my children named “Gremlin” was a favorite at our house. I make it by taking the summer squash and grating it fine in the food processor. Next I stir-fry it with a little olive oil and garlic; then top it off with grated cheese. It got the name Gremlin from a popular eighties movie with the same name. In this movie the little monster-like gremlin gets chopped up in the food processor where it is hiding. Watching me make this side dish reminded the kids of that scene from the movie – hence, the name Gremlin for zucchini smothered in cheese.

I make something else that has no name but delights my taste buds every time I eat it. I start with an onion cut length wise into slivers (toe nails, according to my kids, but I won’t go there), sautéed in a little coconut oil and garlic. Once the onion is translucent and starts to brown, I add sliced yellow and green summer squash. Next come fresh mushrooms and the whole thing cooks just until the squash is tender and the mushrooms are soft. The final touch is a sprinkle of fresh Parmesan cheese to top it all off.

It’s a mystery to me why every time I eat this I’m so thrilled with my creation and why it never seems to get old or boring. I don’t know if it’s the fact that the majority of the ingredients I have nurtured from seed, or if I just like how it all tastes together, but I do love it.

It’s amazing how delicious simple ingredients can taste when put together with love, humor, and fond memories.