Archive for October, 2007

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Lessons Learned

I find myself mulling over the past 5 weeks of my life at odd times. My mind wonders and I replay things that happened while I was taking care of Mom. How one minute she seemed fine and then in a very short time she was like a baby, depending on me for everything. I fed her. I gave her water. I changed her diaper. The diaper thing I didn’t think I could do. I honestly dreaded it like you wouldn’t believe. I told myself I couldn’t. Moreover, I said I wouldn’t. But you know when the time came, it was really no big deal. So I think one lesson is don’t say what you WON’T do, for you will have to do just that thing. And don’t put limits on yourself before you see what you are capable of. I didn’t think I was capable of caring for my mom like I would have one of my children or Husband. I said it out loud. Not to her of course. But to my children and Husband. “I don’t want to do this. I can’t do this.” But I could and I did. I am a better person for having done it. Both my brothers said they couldn’t have…but they could. If I hadn’t, they would have. I find a person, no matter how you limit yourself in your own mind, when the time comes, you step up. You put on your big girl panties and deal with it. I hate for her sake she needed me to do these things, but I am thankful I found it somewhere in myself to do them.

That’s all. I just thought it important to say this. I don’t want any of you to think I cared for Mom without reservations. I had plenty. I so didn’t want to face the responsibility. I went through bouts of anger and self pity. I have never been so emotionally and physically drained in my life. It was heartbreaking to watch her deteriorate so quickly. She went from having lucid conversations to mumbling incoherantly and just crying out ~ all in a span of three weeks. But I wouldn’t go back and undo anything I did for her. I needed some lessons in humility and selflessness – two things I have a problem with from time to time, as I am sure others do. I don’t think anyone who knows me personally would have a problem saying I am spoiled. I know I am. I have lead a fairly cushy life and never really had been pushed to my limits. And quite frankly, now I realize I don’t even know my limits. That’s been a profound realization for me. I have learned so many lessons from Mom, even in her death she taught me much needed lessons.


Day Six of Give Away and another Autumn Recipe

Autumn is my very favorite time of year.  I love it when the temperatures drop and the skies are so blue.  Granted, a deep South Autumn really isnt what most view as Autumn.  The leaves just turn brown here.  Not too many hardwoods.  There are a few Chinese Tallow trees around my little town and I enjoy those like you wouldnt believe.  But it is usually nearly December before they completely turn.  So in honor of Autumn…a book goes in the box…a book titled…AUTUMN.  Autumn by Susan Branch, one of my very favorites!


I thought I would share a photo from my pumpkin harvest last year.  With my mom’s illness I didnt plant this season.  Maybe next year.  I have had so many people ask about them – I hated to disappoint but it just wasnt doable this year.   


And now for a lovely Autumn recipe!  

Pumpkin Dinner Rolls

2 1/2 teaspoons active dry yeast
1/3 cup sugar
3/4 cup milk, heated to lukewarm
7 to 8 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 sticks (3/4 cup) cold unsalted butter, cut into bits
1 large whole egg, beaten lightly
16-ounce can pumpkin                                                                                                                                                                               an egg wash made by beating 1 large egg yolk with 1 tablespoon water

In a small bowl proof the yeast with 1 teaspoon of the sugar in the milk for 5 minutes, or until the mixture is foamy. In a large bowl combine well 7 cups of the flour, the nutmeg, the salt, and the remaining sugar and blend in the butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the whole egg, the pumpkin, and the yeast mixture and stir the dough until it is combined well.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it, incorporating as much of the remaining 1 cup flour as necessary to prevent the dough from sticking, for 10 minutes, or until it is smooth and elastic. Form the dough into a ball, transfer it to a well-buttered large bowl, and turn it to coat it with the butter. Let the dough rise, covered with plastic wrap, in a warm place for 1 hour, or until it is double in bulk. Turn the dough out onto a work surface, divide it into 14 pieces, and form each piece into a ball. Place in a 10″ cake pan that has been well greased. Cover and let them rise, covered with a kitchen towel, in a warm place for 45 minutes, or until they are almost double in bulk. Gently brush the rolls with the egg wash and bake them in the middle of a preheated 350°F. oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until they are golden brown. Let the rolls cool slightly in the pan, remove from the pan, and serve the rolls warm.



Day Five of Give Away and…

can we talk a minute about Thanksgiving? First here is the addition to the give away box…my very favorite coffee!  Blend and grind it myself.


This box is getting full! Just two more additions!  And then I will do the drawing.

Now for the next subject…Thanksgiving.  With my mom’s passing the traditional Thanksgiving fare will be my responsibility.   I have made dressing/stuffing exactly ONCE in my life.  And honestly, it wasnt great.  My family doesnt like a bunch of additives in their stuffing.  Mostly cornbread.  Yellow cornbread only.  No breadcrumbs, or left over crackers and such.  Nope, freshly made yellow cornbread and NOT from a mix.  No sugar in our cornbread please.  Cornbread should be salty ~ NOT dessert.  So I will do my best.  I have Mom’s recipe of course.  But that won’t help me with the decades of experience that I shall need.  Our peeps don’t exactly love turkey, and they certainly dont like stuffing made with chicken stock so I suppose I am going to buy some turkey parts and make a stock for the stuffing.   Husband will then fry a turkey breast, we will make a fresh ham and he is working on a recipe for a meat roll that starts out with a piece of Andouille.  And it almost has to be delicious if Andouille is involved. There will of course be a tutorial for this dish when it is perfected.  He is going to do a trial run the first full week he is home so he can make changes if necessary.

I have marked several recipes in our very large collection of Gourmet, Saveur, Food and Wine and BonAppetit. Plus we have a HUGE ring binder with our own collection of recipes, tried and true.  Husband started this notebook when he first “got into” cooking.  Here are all the notes and changes to recipes he and I have made and don’t trust ourselves to remember.

I am always looking for new and delicious side dishes.  And desserts as well.  I do know I am making individual Pumpkin Pots de Creme in esspresso cups.  There will likely be individual coconut tarts in ramkins.  And something chocolate.  Along with assorted cookies and such.  Hannah has ordered sausage balls and I plan to make my mom’s recipe for stuffed baby bella mushrooms.

One more thing I plan to do for this Thanksgiving is start a scrapbook.  What better time to start one?  Looking through pictures at my mom’s inspired me to do this.  She never threw anything away.  And her scrapbooks are priceless now.  Such treasures.  So…I have some ideas I will share as they pan out.  But it will be more or less a diary of the days leading up to and the actual menu, meal and family time with lots of pictures.


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