Tag Archives: Food

A Noble Quest for Ice Cream

I know exactly where to find ice cream in my hometown. So do thousands of academics, farmers, ball teams, Bible study ladies and motorcycle gangs.

Ivanhoe’s has served area ice cream addicts for decades.

But we were in Indianapolis helping my grandson’s family move on his birthday.

So that evening I forced myself to leave Hubby and the others — hoisting a piano above their heads — to seek a grocery.

Consulting his phone, Hubby gave me directions, then bowed his head and prayed. “At least, we’ll see each other in heaven.”

Okay, so I needed 13 tries to navigate endless roundabouts. By time I found the address, I had viewed the outskirts of Louisville, Chicago and Japan.

I finally found Hubby’s designated grocery store.

It had not yet opened for business.

Sitting in the store’s soon-to-be-blacktopped parking lot, I realized my family could have moved the White House’s contents since I left.

I reached for my cell phone … that I’d left at home.

I peered through murky twilight. Should I case the area for a pay phone? But who knew how many evil roundabouts lurked in the gathering gloom …?

A vision of my grandson, stuck-out lip quivering with disappointment, gave me courage to try again.

I would accomplish my mission the old-fashioned way, like my father before me.

His method? Pick a direction and trust God to lead to a store/motel/gas station/restrooms.

I found auto repair shops, upscale tattoo parlors, and … marinas. In Indianapolis?

Like Dad, I tried one more road … that led to a health food store.

“Seriously, God?”

Desperate, I entered and found ice cream!

Soy cranberry and papaya bark.

In despair, I sank to the floor.

Then spotted it on the bottom shelf:

Not carob. Not tofu. Not even yogurt.

Chocolate chip. Ice cream.

I bought it and arrived as the last piece of furniture was moved into place. Not even Hubby possessed the energy to roll his eyes.

Smiles that reigned as our grandson blew out candles morphed into frowns as I plopped ice cream on pieces of cake.

“It’s not healthy,” I promised. “Honest.”

“Yes, it is.” My other grandson pointed to the label. “It says this ice cream came from healthy cows.”

“Taste it,” I pleaded. “Real chocolate chips, see?”

My family is nothing, if not broadminded — especially when starved.

Smiles returned. Birthday Boy ate two big helpings.

Everyone needs character-building tests, challenges that demand their all.

But I’m glad my usual ice cream quest requires only a three-block walk to Ivanhoe’s — without a single roundabout — to choose from 100 sundaes.

Now, there’s a challenge. …

 

Where does your favorite ice cream quest lead you?

Sweet, Burning Hunk of Barbecue Love

Visiting the South a few years ago, we sought to sample its bodacious barbecue. So we braved Saturday night kill-the-Yankees traffic to find Blaze’s Piggy Pit.

Homemade posters taped to its front windows warmed our hearts. We had not arrived at a restaurant that demanded we share an appetizer and a dessert, the kind John Steinbeck said took pride in serving food untouched by human hands. Instead, the signs shouted all-you-can-eat nights. A picture of Mr. Blaze himself adorned one window — wearing a suit and tie fit to make his mama proud, with a tortured smile to match.

The poster said he was running for mayor.

What better way to please his public than to cook up the world’s best barbecue?

Inside, I poofed my ’do because big hair and hardworking blue jeans obviously were required. The dining room smelled yummy-in-the-tummy-smoky, as it does at a family reunion cookout, when Mom tells you to go play with your cousins until supper’s ready.

The waitress, upon greeting Casey Jack and Junior Lee by name, skipped menus. She handed them shovels and steered them toward the barbecue and fish bar.

Bankrupting the Piggy Pit on our first visit wouldn’t be neighborly. So my husband ordered a slab of ribs, and I selected pulled pork. With our first bites, my husband closed his eyes. My taste buds fell in love. We paused for a moment of silence.

Then Hubby proceeded to ruin the family name. Even a Yankee knows a true barbecue connoisseur picks up ribs. Instead, my husband not only used knife and fork, he surgically removed every shred of gristle and/or fat.

Barbecue blasphemy.

Mayoral race or not, it’s a wonder Mr. Blaze didn’t toss us out of the Piggy Pit.

Fortunately, he kept too busy to notice. No suit and tie tonight. He wore jeans and a T-shirt. He and his poofy-haired mama called us “honey,” and did we “want more sweet tea, darlin’?”

I ordered cheesecake for dessert. Steve overdosed on pecan cobbler, suffering sugar-induced hallucinations.

However, we turned down complimentary golf cart service that hauled blimpy customers to their cars. I am proud to say we walked out of the Piggy Pit on our own two feet.

Does Mr. Blaze know about tax rates and sewer systems? I don’t know. Still, anyone who bestows that kind of barbecue on mankind — plus infinite hush puppies — for a reasonable price must be a man of mayoral vision, with deep concern for friends, neighbors and even hungry Yankees.

Definitely a winner, in my (burp) book.

 

When (and where) was the last time you ate bodacious barbecue?

Bacon, How Do I Love Thee? Check My Cholesterol Count

How I wished this treatise began with heavenly fragrances and sweet sizzling leading to crispy, smoky bacon.

Unfortunately, I sat in a hospital laboratory, breakfastless, awaiting a routine cholesterol test.

That day recalled my bacon fast at 16, when I swore off because I heard it caused zits. Mom, concerned about my skinny frame, entreated in vain. My heartless brothers wolfed down handfuls of bacon like popcorn. I closed my eyes, but their crunch-crunch-crunch, reminiscent of giant locusts, started my days on a miserable note.

Plus, pimples, unappreciative of my sacrifice, showed up anyway.

Nowadays, I rarely hear about bacon bans related to acne. No, those who wish to deprive mankind yammer about good and bad fats. Which is which? Both look lumpy in a swimsuit.

Despite bad press, bacon recently has enjoyed popularity surpassing Justin Bieber’s. To skeptics, I inquire: How many Bieber-of-the-month clubs exist in which members fork out 50-plus bucks monthly to have Justin dropped off on their doorsteps?

I thought so. Yet thousands subscribe to The Pig Next Door, Bacon Freak, and dozens of bacon-touting clubs that do exactly that.

Bacon isn’t just for breakfast anymore. Many crave it for dessert: bacon cookies, bacon-sprinkled cupcakes, bacon ice cream, even apple pie with a bacon lattice crust. Others indulge a sweet tooth with bacon truffles, bacon brittle, bubble gum, lollipops, soda and candy canes.

Not content with filling their stomachs with delectable morning meat, bacon addicts treat their teeth to bacon-flavored toothpaste and floss. They wear T-shirts with slogans such as “Bacon is meat candy” and “Praise the Lard.”

One Christmas, I gave my son-in-law a grilling apron sporting a pink pig and the caption, “Thank you for turning vegetables into bacon.”

Sadly, I didn’t discover the gift that would have won me the Lifetime Mother-in-law Award until too late. Sculptor Mike LaHue created a larger-than-life bust of actor Kevin Bacon, covered with cooked bacon bits. No, he didn’t eat Kevin. But he chowed down on extra bacon bits to sustain artistic fervor.

According to reporter Rosa Golijan, LaHue was glad to complete this project, auctioned off for charity. However, he missed Kevin smiling from his refrigerator every morning.

Reading such reports in the laboratory waiting room, I wished I could have delayed this test a little longer — say, 30 years. I considered leaving and continuing my fat-lovin’ ways.

In that case, another product would meet my needs in a most unique way. A bacon coffin. A $2,999.99 steel casket with slice-of-bacon décor, complete with bacon air freshener.

Advertised with a fitting slogan: “For those who love bacon to death.”

So … how do you like your bacon?

Diary of the Christmas Fudge

December 16, 2016

My short—but sweet—life began as an on-sale bag of sugar.

Then the Fudge Monster decided to double her Christmas fudge output. Having bought one bag in November, she bought me in December.

She hasn’t found the November bag yet.

Perhaps it languishes where she stowed four boxes of Christmas cards, her mother-in-law’s present, and a missing gallon of egg nog — plus all that extra money she thought she’d stashed.

December 24, 2016 – Christmas Eve

Sadly, the Fudge Monster delayed making fudge until Christmas Eve … after stores closed.

No double batch.

The Fudge Monster wept.

But did she let a little senility stop her?

Never.

She considered borrowing from a neighbor. But six cups of sugar? On Christmas Eve?

So the Monster used me — the December bag — plus sugar salvaged from various bowls and a Cool Whip container she took camping last summer. Finally, she located a bag with cement-like contents probably bought when a Bush was president.

As she chipped sugar, her husband questioned her wisdom.

Thankfully, the Fudge Monster, wielding wooden spoons like a kitchen samurai, chased him out.

She hacked chocolate and pecans like firewood. She measured and boiled. The Monster stirred and stirred, finally pouring my smooth mixture into a buttered pan. She filled another. And another. Whoa, unlimited chocolate power!

If I solidified.

The Fudge Monster stuck in a spoon. It sank deep into my thin syrup.

Sixty seconds later, she checked again.

Thirty seconds.

I objected. Would she like someone poking to see if her core was solid?

The Monster called to Hubby: Did he think half our county would like chocolate sauce for Christmas?

From the safety of his locked truck, he answered, “Certainly, dear. Everyone needs a gallon or two.”

Later, she dared sample a corner.

Voilà! I am the best fudge she’d ever made!

Later that night, a gooey kitchen returned the Fudge Monster to reality. Even the toaster was glued to the counter.

With hair marshmallowed to her face, the Fudge Monster could have intimidated Bigfoot.

With 10 guests due within hours, she coat-hangered Hubby’s truck door and dragged him inside to help.

Together they whipped the kitchen into shape.

December 25, 2016 – Christmas Day

Their family arrived to celebrate and eat fudge.

Snarfing creamy, chocolaty chunks, the Monster was in such a magnanimous mood that, instead of hiding my extra pans under her bed, she sent fudge home with them.

And they say Christmas miracles don’t happen.

January, 2017

After Christmas, the Monster celebrated New Year’s Eve with fudge. New Year’s Day. Every single football game on TV. Her dryer’s completion of a perma-press cycle.

However, a January Judgment Day, when she finally mounted the bathroom scales exiled my remaining yumminess to the freezer. …

Until her dryer’s perma-press cycle buzzed once more.

 

What kind of Goodie Monster lives at your house every Christmas?

The Great Zucchini Mystery

In the history of mankind, has anyone ever recorded a zucchini shortage?

My husband and I certainly have not suffered such famine. Which is odd, because in April, the seeds we bought reflected our zucchini prejudice: lettuce, spinach, green beans, and cucumbers.

No zucchini.

Steve did not place zucchini in the same class as lima beans — he declares God never meant them to be eaten — but he dislikes zucchini, even in sweet breads welcomed by most zucchini haters.

Besides, we heard frightening tales about this squash intent on world domination. Our pastor warned the congregation to lock their cars during zucchini season, as desperate gardeners had been seen stuffing boxfuls into back seats.

What next? Would innocent citizens be forced at gunpoint to accept a minimum of two oversized zucchini per mugging?

Enough corruption existed in the world. We would never plant zucchini.

Actually, I planted nothing, because my workload doubled. My less experienced husband attacked gardening with great enthusiasm. Steve faithfully followed every jot and tittle of planting directions, identifying vegetables with empty packets.

ZucchiniPlantOur garden flourished. The cucumber plants seemed bunchy, but perhaps seed companies had invented new varieties.

Soon long, green vegetables emerged from yellow blossoms. But they sported speckles instead of bumps. Slices of our firstfruits confirmed the truth: The seed packet said “cucumbers,” with the corresponding picture, but we planted zucchini.

Three hills. With several plants apiece.

I hated to break the news to my hardworking husband. Perhaps weeding made him crack, because when I did, he refused to believe. He had sown seeds from a cucumber packet, and those long, green things were cucumbers.  End of discussion.

But not the end of the zucchini.

ZucchiniBirdHeadOur plants laid them daily, like eggs.

In our hour of need, I called on our grown children, waving one in their faces: “What’s this?”

Our daughter didn’t hesitate. “A zucchini.”

Our son, married to a master gardener, agreed. “Besides, those are zucchini plants, not cucumber. Zu’s are bunchy.”

The kids’ verdicts shook Steve, though he didn’t visibly back down. When I skewered zucchini chunks on beef kebobs, he said, “You’re grilling cucumbers?”

GrilledZucchiniBut he did check on-line, and in answer to my prayers, admitted, “You’re right.” He even learned to like zucchini grilled. We freeze them, and we’ve brainstormed about other ways to use our excess.

His favorite theory: Grow ’em big so we can market them as sports equipment.

Some consumers would have sued the seed company for this serious error. Instead, we share our blessings. As we speak, a dump truck, filled to capacity, speeds on its way to the seed company’s corporate headquarters.

And they don’t lock their driveway.

 

Divine Doughnuts

My church serves doughnuts. No surprise. As a pastor’s daughter and veteran of hundreds of ecclesiastical gatherings, I know “fellowship” is synonymous with “doughnuts.”

Some insist the tradition began when Jesus and his disciples made regular stops at an ancient Krispy Kreme. Despite intense efforts, I haven’t yet found that in the Bible.

Still, my childhood church’s divine doughnut ritual made a powerful impact. What kid does not feel her spirituality increase a hundredfold with a table-level view of big white boxes of fresh doughnuts?

DoughnutsThe memory lingers: my favorite chocolate-frosted, Boston cream-filled confections; sprinkles, glazes and powdery sugar like sweet fairy dust. Even jelly doughnuts, my last choice, looked as heavenly as the fellowship they represented.

Today, doughnuts no longer symbolize fellowship to me. Alas, they remind me of a major miscue.

As a young mother, I started a kids’ Bible club in my neighborhood, often serving doughnuts.

One swaggering 10-year-old declared himself the world doughnut-eating champion.

I couldn’t let this untruthful claim go unchallenged.

JellyDonutI stuck out my hand. “A doughnut-eating contest. You and me. Next week.”

He sneered, but shook it.

The following week, my excited Bible club assembled. Robby and I stared each other down as a fifth-grader ran the stop watch.

“Ready. Set. Go!”

We stuffed doughnuts with the ease of marathoners running the first mile. But my long-time conditioning began to win out. Robby slowed as I snarfed doughnut after doughnut. (How many? I’m not telling.)

“Ten! Nine! Eight! …” The kids counted down the last seconds.

I won!

I felt the rosy flush of victory.

Robby’s face, however, turned green.

“I don’t feel so good.” He went home.

Suddenly, I found my win hard to swallow — especially with a stomachful of doughnuts. What kind of role model made a kid sick? What would his parents think of my Bible program?

After repenting and praying for Robby — and my stomach — I mustered the courage to call his mother. “I’m so, so sorry.”

Silence.

 She’ll sue me.

 More silence.

Or have me arrested.

A howl of laughter erupted from the phone. Finally, still chuckling, she said, “He needs to be taken down a peg or two. Thanks!”

Robby showed up the next week. And the next. Apparently, I had earned his respect.

Although that scenario occurred 25 years ago, it replays every time I see doughnuts.

Writing about it now, however, my spiritual vision clears. Doughnuts do not have to symbolize my downfall. Instead, they recall God’s kindness in fixing even my dumbest mistakes.

ChocolateDonutPerhaps next Sunday, I should participate in divine Christian fellowship — especially if it involves the chocolate-frosted Boston cream-filled kind.

What’s your favorite kind of doughnut? Have they taught you a spiritual lesson, too?