O my God, thank You for entrusting three wonderful, beautiful children to me. And, OMG, thank You that now that they’re busy caring for their own kids, I could eat this whole thing on Mother’s Day without sharing a single bite.
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.
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?
December 16, 2016
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?
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.
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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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?”
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.
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?
The 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.
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 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.”
She’ll sue me.
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.
What’s your favorite kind of doughnut? Have they taught you a spiritual lesson, too?
Steve and I could not agree on what honest-to-goodness strawberry shortcake was.
I spent two sweaty hours picking the best strawberries. I entered my June-steamy, closet-like kitchen and, like my mother before me, baked a decadent white cake. I covered giant pieces with berries, and plopped vanilla ice cream on each, adding more berries. Finally, I buried my masterpiece with an avalanche of whipped cream.
I presented my magnum opus and awaited raves.
Steve ate in silence.
I hinted for a compliment.
He said, “It’s okay. But it’s not real strawberry shortcake.”
Note to you youngsters: don’t try this at home. Unless you really enjoy sleeping on a sofa.
In the parking lot.
When we were speaking again, he pointed to a picture of “real” shortcake in my Betty Crocker’s Cookbook, his thoughtful gift the past Christmas. “Real shortcake’s like a biscuit,” he explained. “You dump berries on, then pour milk over it.”
“Biscuit?” I stared at Steve in horror. “Milk?”
What kind of person would sacrifice innocent strawberries for breakfast food masquerading as a dessert?
I refused to budge one inch. For our future children’s sake, I would allow only the highest strawberry shortcake standard in our home. Hubby said nothing more.
But at a church potluck, his eyes brightened as he spotted that profane biscuit stuff. He devoured an enormous piece and told the woman who made it, “That was the most delicious dessert in the world!”
I considered moving our sofa to the parking lot again. But it seemed like a lot of work. And Steve had so enjoyed “real” shortcake. …
I decided I would (choke!) use Betty Crocker’s biscuity recipe. Still, compromise was the name of the marriage game — for Steve, too! So I invented a shortcake we both appreciate. I added lots more sugar. I slathered butter on it to raise the cholesterol content to decent levels. Not only did this compromise save our marriage, but it has impacted our children, who actually asked for my recipe before they left home. While our kids-in-law secretly believe Mom Phillips is an alien from the planet Skorkxx, they will come if she makes strawberry shortcake.
Tonight I’ll pile ruby-red berries on my husband’s piping hot shortcake and (this still hurts) pour milk over it. I’ll slather butter on mine, add berries, ice cream and fat-free Cool Whip.
After 41 years, we still do shortcake different.
But together, we have a berry good time.
Did you and your spouse experience a similar crucial controversy during the first weeks—days—hours?—of your marriage?