Things no Southern cook will ever say

There are some words and phrases you’ll just never hear come out of certain peoples’ mouth.

Like, you’ll never hear from a UK basketball fan “Wow, that was a close game. I like it when the teams are evenly matched like that.” No, what you’ll hear a Kentucky basketball fan say is “What the heck is going on!? They only won by 10! They’re just not the powerhouse team they were back in the day…”

And you’ll never hear them say “Gee, I really miss the Eddie Sutton days.” Or “I totally understand why Rick Patino would want to coach at Louisville, and I totally supported his decision.” And “I didn’t even put UK in my March Madness bracket this year.”

Similarly, you’ll never hear a Cincinnati Bengals fan say “Nah, my Bengals have never let me down.” Or “I’m really surprised they lost that game in the last 10 minutes – never saw THAT coming!” Or “That game had some great refs! They really played like crap, but the refs were spot on when it came to making those calls!”

In that vein, there are things you’ll never hear a Southern cook say either…

  • Honey, I think this has too much bacon in it.
  • Oh, Lord, don’t put so much barbecue sauce on it, you’ll cover up the flavor of the meat.
  • Nah, I don’t have any particular recipe for making collards… I just throw them in the pot and go.Collard-Greens-with-Smoked-Turkey-Wings-Recipe
  • Hmmmm… this probably has too many calories in it already, I’ll just use this low-fat margarine instead of butter.
  • Honestly, there’s really no difference between store bought, homegrown and hothouse tomatoes.
  • You mean people make biscuits that don’t come out of a can?
  • Of course it’s vegan!
  • My mother never cooked that well when we were growing up to be honest.
  • BOILED peanuts? Ewwww.

    boiled peanuts
    So much ewwww.
  • Absolutely, I use measuring cups and measuring spoons! How on earth are you supposed to get the recipe right without them?
  • I think I’ll make steamed veggies tonight.
  • Rats, I’m out of Cajun seasoning…. I guess I’ll just switch to Greek.
  • I think this tea has too much sugar in it… Where’s the mint?
  • I always put cinnamon and cocoa in my chili for a really hip taste.
  • I think we’ll just have sub sandwiches at the tailgate party this weekend.

    Tailgating-19-595
    You know why they don’t have anyone at their tailgate? Because they’re serving subs and they don’t know how to play cornhole, that’s why. Sheesh…
  • I don’t even think I HAVE a recipe that calls for cooking anything more than two hours.
  • Lord, yes, I love my instapot!
  • There’s no art to barbecue, you just throw it on the grill and walk away for a few hours. Easy as pie.
  • You’ve just got to try my new recipe for quinoa flavored with jicama and harissa. It’s just to DIE for….
  • You can’t fry everything…
Skillet-Fried-Chicken_30_frying
To which every good Southern cook says, “The hell you can’t!”

Okay – your turn!

Are there things YOU think no good Southern cook would ever say?

Leave them in the comments below!

Copyright Liz Carey, LLC 2018

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Anderson’s Blue Laws

As anyone from Anderson, SC, knows, if you want to throw back a cold one watching the game on Sunday, you better buy your beverage of choice the night before.Blue Laws 1.12.17

Anderson’s “Blue Laws,” prohibiting liquor sales on Sunday, are a throwback to a time when properly observing the Sabbath meant Sunday was a day of rest – for businesses as well as residents.

But did you know that Anderson’s Blue Laws once forbid the sale of another “intoxicating” beverage – Coca Cola?

Continue reading “Anderson’s Blue Laws”

Car repair for girls

Woman-Broken-Car-1969081There’s nothing more frustrating than being a girl and trying to fix your car.

This past month, my 2007 Jeep Commander had a bumper that needed to be fixed… and by fixed I mean, reattached to the rest of the car with anything that does not resemble Duct Tape.

In complete girl logic, I just assumed that if I put off fixing it, it would stay the same until I got around to it.

Wrong! What happens to you, when you’re a girl trying to keep things together with fingernail polish and bobby pins, is that men look at you and laugh.

If you don’t take the time to put in that rear wheel well (which actually fell off last year during a traumatic tire explosion on the way home from the beach with a car full of teenagers), what happens is that bumper/fender assembly pulls away from the rest of the car and decides to flap dangerously in the wind, like a really stiff champagne-colored shirt in a 40-mile an hour gale ready to come undone and blow onto someone else’s car at any second.

And when that happens, many men would rather do it for you instead of watching you do it on your own.

This, of course, is what happened to me when I was driving back from Greenville and was traveling in excess of 60 miles per hour. That bumper looked like it was going to break off like a piece of the Apollo 13 space craft.

Houston, we have a problem.

duct tape carWhen I looked into my rearview mirror and saw what was going on, I stopped at an auto parts store for help.

That’s where I met Mr. Johnson, whose initial solution was to take some Gorilla tape and attach the bumper to the rest of the car.

(Okay, not to be too picky, but let’s review here – champagne SUV, black gorilla tape, wildly swinging back bumper… can you say redneck?).

After several minutes of back and forth between a plastic parts aisle and my car, Mr. Johnson determined they didn’t have the part I needed and that I should go to Low Ray’s, an auto parts store down the street, to ask for the right rivets.

I asked him what part I should ask for. He just looked at me and said, “Don’t worry, honey, if you tell them where it needs to go, they’ll know what it is.”

So I went to Low Ray’s two days later and found, much to my surprise, that the auto parts of was filled with enough toy pedal cars and hobby horse airplanes to start a toy museum, which, you know, seemed odd to me as it was an auto parts place.

But that’s where Mr. Johnson said to go, right? As I walked in, I saw a fence behind all the toys and asked if they had the part I was looking for. I told them Mr. Johnson sent me.

car parts storeThe guy I was talking to abruptly disappeared into this auto parts cave for a few minutes. He never really looked at the car, never asked what I actually needed outside of my vague “I need the things that hold my rear bumper on to my car.”

Believe it or not, they didn’t have my part. He recommended the Internet.

So, I went home and got online. For more than an hour I searched for the parts I needed. I even chatted for help.

HC-chat-rep-620x344Auto parts website chatbot: Hello, my name is Brett. What can I help you with?

Me: (not answering because being on chat hold for 18 minutes tends to make me diddle around on Facebook)

Auto parts website chatbot: Hello? Is there anyone there? I haven’t heard from you in a while.

Me: Yes, I’m here. I was on hold for so long I went to another website.

Auto parts website chatbot: Great! We’re glad you’re back. My name is Brett. What can I help you with.

Me: Hi, Brett. I’m looking for a part for my 2007 Jeep Commander. I need the things that hold the bumper into the frame and the wheel well into the body of the car. Do you have a those?

Brett: Great. Let me check on that for you. Do you have the part number?

Me: No. I looked on your website, but I couldn’t find anything that looked anything like the little plastic doohickies I need.

Brett: That’s okay, I can look them up for you. While we’re waiting, Liz, would you like for me to sign you up for our email list?

Me: Well, honestly, Brett, since I was on chatbot death hold for 18 minutes, I’d really just like to get the part I was looking for.

Brett: I understand. To speed up the process, why don’t I just use the email address you entered when we started this chat, Liz?

Me: Brett, why don’t you just look up the part for me so I can order it and \ will no longer be driving around with duct tape holding my car together?

Brett: I can do that. Do you know what the part is called?

Me: If I knew what it was called, I probably wouldn’t have watched “All of our representatives are currently helping other customers. Someone will be with you shortly” repeat on my screen for nearly 20 minutes.

Brett: Okay, let’s see. We have the rear passenger-side bumper assembly package here for just $137.11. Can I place that order for you, Liz?

Me: Brett, I have the bumper. I just don’t have what I need to attach the bumper to the car. Don’t you just have those little thingamabobs that you stick up into the car to hold it on to the metal part?

Brett: That’s what the rear bumper assembly will do.

Mfrustrated on computere: That’s crazy. Why do I need to buy the whole kit, when all I need is those little spindly thingies? Whatever. Will it fit my 2007 Jeep Commander?

Brett: Uhm, no. We don’t really carry a lot of parts for the Commander.

Me: Seriously? Couldn’t you have just told me that to begin with?

Brett suggested I go to a dealer.

Which, of course, I did.

I dressed up in my best “Yes, I’m a girl but I can use a screwdriver” look and hoped they would take pity on me and help me find the right parts for my car for less than $50.

They didn’t.

In fact, they nearly smirked when I drove the car to the dealership and they showed me the drawing of what it was supposed to look like and how difficult it would be to install.

But I would not be daunted. I ordered the parts, picked them up a day later and took them to a friend’s garage to work on the car. My friend said “You know, I can do this for you, so you don’t have to lay down on the ground and get dirty.”

Sigh.

I’m not that kind of a girl.

When we figured out the parts guys hadn’t given me the right rivets, it wasn’t until I went back and dropped my friend’s name that the parts guys took me seriously. When they came back with the wrong part three times in as many days, it wasn’t until I started to cry in frustration that they found the right part. When I asked them how much it would cost to fix a shorting fuse in the lift gate, it wasn’t until I told them I had already done my research that they came down from their $600 estimate to a $200 part.

mechanic girl_car repairAnd it wasn’t until the female parts assistant came in to help me that I got treated like an actual person without being talked down to. She was the one who told me I needed a rivet gun and she was the one who helped me get the right pieces to use.

And after that, I did it. I fixed the bumper. I reattached the wheel well. I put the flair back on. I learned how to use a rivet gun. I laid down in the dirt and didn’t even get upset when mud and oil from under the car fell into my face and hair.

I didn’t cry when I broke a nail.

Sure, I didn’t do it ALL by myself – I had help from my husband and my friend, who showed me what to do and how things went together. But I did the work.

And for that, you gotta give a girl credit. Even if I don’t know all the parts’ names, or how to use all the tools, I can still do it.

I am not helpless.

I’m just a girl who likes fixing her own car.

That, gentlemen, is nothing to laugh at.

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2015

Garden hose

It’s time to get the garden in, so naturally I made a beeline for my underwear drawer.

Gardener with Wooden Seedling TrayIt’s the same every year.

Well, okay, not every year.

There were those three or four years when the kids were younger and we lived on the river. A general disregard by my kids for anything that could be construed as a vegetable and the fact that floods don’t pay much attention to fencing, sort of made planting a garden a bad idea.

Not that we didn’t want to… we just didn’t have the time or money for that kind of failure.

This whole garden craze started when my dear husband and I were first married and moved into a house on a street in Cincinnati that easily could have been built in San Francisco. Clearly, the fact that our house was on land that could have been better described as vertical made it the perfect spot to build a raised bed garden.steep streets

Clearly.

With railroad ties and a truck full of dirt, we put in a little garden that held all the foods we would eat over the winter – tomatoes, corn, green peppers, eggplant and Brussels sprouts. And we put in a bed of herbs – basil, oregano, chives, peppermint and dill.

Let’s just say, I THOUGHT growing eggplant would be great, but I was wrong because once you grow them, you have to actually eat them. And I THOUGHT that two Brussels sprouts plants would produce enough buds to adequately feed two people, but I was wrong because it only produces enough Brussels sprouts to contemplate the correct spelling of “Brussels sprouts” on search engines when it becomes clear that bugs are eating more of them than you are.

And herbs? Here’s a tip – unless you really, really, really like the smell of dill, or the flavor of peppermint, don’t ever, EVER plant them directly into the ground because they will take over every available inch of ground they can find, from your garden well into the neighboring football field, if you let them. Even if you don’t let them, they will still do it and mock you for your feeble attempts to control them.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

On the other hand, we had tomatoes and green peppers and corn!

I was so excited to go out and grab food that I had grown. I couldn’t wait to grab the tomatoes straight off the vine and plop a few ears of corn off the plants and into a big pot of boiling water.

But by the time I got around to it, they were gone.

I went outside and our harvest was no longer on the plants waiting for me to pick it. In fact, it was thumping along the back wall in a plastic bag, trailing two kids from our neighborhood who had come into our little backyard for a little vegetable buffet.

I suspect their mom sent them. Seriously, what kid steals vegetables?

Those little set backs didn’t stop us though. Most everywhere we went – from a row house in Newport, Ky., to a three-story mansion in the middle of Cincinnati, and here in our home in Anderson, SC – we planted a garden.

We were like the Johnny Appleseed of green vegetables and overgrown herb beds….

This past year, we had heirloom tomatoes, squash, green peppers, jalapeno peppers, carrots, radishes, basil, oregano, sage, parsley and even a few okra plants.

zukesOur tomatoes were great, as were the squash, but honestly, we just gave up on harvesting them after a while because we got tired of eating them. Do you have any idea how much an average zucchini plant produces? I would estimate it at about 728 bushels based on the number of plastic bags of zucchini I had in my freezer one year when I got the idea that if I harvested them and grated them, I could make something like zucchini bread with them later.

That was a teacher Christmas gift that went over well, I’m sure.

So, instead, we just left them there. The birds ate holes in the tomatoes. The squirrels ate the green peppers. Some other unknown entity ate the lettuce and carrots. After eating our fill, we left the rest for nature to consume. It was just too much work to worry with.

And then, there was the whole watering thing. Also, a lot like work.

We just not the type to water plants. I’m sure that our peace lilies, who have been with us for more than 16 years, tremble in fear every time we get the Christmas decorations out because they know that is the sign they’ll be coming inside, into the desert of our living room, until it gets warm outside. dead lilyOften, between December and February, I will walk by them and say to myself “Jeez, I really should water the plants,” but never actually do. It’s a wonder they haven’t gotten together and grown legs so they could strangle us in our sleep for forcing them through the torture of neglect.

When it came to the garden though, I wasn’t ever going to spend a fortune to end up with another failure. And what’s the point of spending a small fortune on a garden, if your desired result is to get something for almost nothing?

So, we came up with alternatives.

Need mulch? We use old clean cardboard boxes and newspapers.

Want an irrigation system? We poke holes in the bottoms of empty two-liter bottles and bury them in the ground near your most neediest plants to regulate a water supply that lasts for a few days.

Need plant supports? Well, … here’s where the underwear drawer comes in.

Our tomato plants are planted in front of an old trellis that I have had for more than 15 years. Tomato plants don’t generally take to being trained up a trellis and they’re pretty fragile, so tying them up can be problematic. Sometimes, even string can cut into the tender vines and leave you with nothing but a stem that’s beautiful on the bottom, but withered and bare on the top. The Solution? Old panty hose. They have just enough give in them to be supportive for the tomatoes while holding them in place.

tying-tomatoes-pantyhoseWhich means one of my first stops when setting out the garden is to rummage through my underwear drawer to find hose with runs and rips and tears in them. Since no pair seems to last for more than 378 seconds, happily, they aren’t hard to find.

I’ll be out buying plants and seeds this week. And I’ll be going through my underwear drawer.

But I’m pretty sure the kids next door won’t be stealing my tomatoes this year. They have a chicken coop.

Maybe we can trade veggies for eggs.

One more thing to store in old panty hose, I’m sure…

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2015

Eight ways you know the holiday honeymoon is over

I’m pretty sure I am all Christmas’d out.

Seriously.

As I sit here on my couch on a rainy 60 degree Sunday, some of my friends are celebrating their fourth and fifth family holiday today. Heck, some of them have had more than eight holiday celebrations in the course of the last month.

Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas as much as the next person… christmaseveprobably more than some in fact. I love the secrets, the smells, the sights… even the sappy Christmas specials where the evil shopkeeper realizes there is more to the season than commercialism and peace returns to Happyville and little Timmy gets his dog back.

Yeah, I know, I’m a bit sentimental, but life can’t be all sarcasm, moonshine and zombies now, can it?

So, after countless batches of Christmas candy, a seemingly endless stream of holiday engagements and a month-long marathon of shopping or making gifts, I think I’m done for a while.

How can I tell? The signs are all around us… Here’s the top 8 ways to tell you’re done with Christmas.

  1. smoking-credit-cardYour credit card is no longer smoldering and your mailbox is busting at the seams with with bills.
  2. The desire for rich foods like turkey with all the fixings, crown roast of pork and prime rib has been replaced by an urgent need for salad, soup and sandwiches or a plain baked potato.
  3. No one in the house wants to eat any of the goodies you’ve painstakingly made over the past month. Christmas cookies and peanut butter fudge go uneaten, while jelly beans and Doritos disappear by the handful.christmas-tree-dry-211x300
  4. The sight of Christmas trees and the not-so-green-anymore greenery around the house brings less feelings of nostalgia and holiday spirit and more thoughts of kindling and the growing concern over how long into Spring you’ll still be sweeping up pine needles.
  5. The pangs of guilt over things you didn’t get accomplished – including not knitting your grand niece and nephew matching glove and hat sets because you ran out of time and not mailing out handmade Christmas cards because you forgot they were in your glove compartment – have dissipated and been replaced by nagging thoughts of “I should probably still try to do that sometime before Valentine’s Day.”
  6. ragincajungatorsYou’d rather watch “Ragin’ Cajun Redneck Gators” on Syfy than suffer through yet another showing of “Elf,” “Shrek the Halls,” “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation” or “A Christmas Story.”
  7. The long list of holiday engagements has been replaced by long afternoon naps and curling up with a good book for hours on end.
  8. As temperatures here in South Carolina reach up into the 50s, planning holidayspring_vegetable_garden_guide_when_to_plant travel schedules is replaced with an urgent desire to plant a garden.

So, let’s take a few minutes and say goodbye to 2014’s holiday season. It’s been one to put in the record books… well, the keepsake books anyway, if indeed we keep any of those. And remember, there’s just 363 shopping days left to find the perfect gifts for Christmas 2015.

Copyright Liz Carey (c) 2014

I’m ready for Christmas

It’s been a rough week.

MyOld_Lady_with_a_Cane hip hurts. And even though the doctors say it’s arthritis, I’m way too young to hear that come out of any professional’s mouth.

One of my cats died Sunday morning. But he was 417 years old, so it was time.

My house is not the kind of clean I would like it to be, but we’ll blame that on the aforementioned hip, and ignore the fact that I tend to have piles of clean laundry in my bedroom always.

My shoes are strewn about my bedroom in the pattern of a mad woman looking for golden slippers in the bottom of a stack of casual canvas boots, but that, too, is somewhat normal.

I’ve had to say “Good-bye” to someone who hated me with the class and debonair air that would have made my Dad proud, and “Hello” to someone who doesn’t know me with a restrained giddiness. Neither of these things is easy for me.

jobs-picMy kid got a job, but his grades are wanting and after a round of going toe-to-toe with one of his teachers for her inane rules, I can’t seem to get him to realize that doing well at school and adhering to those stupid rules is more important than skateboarding.

My other kid can’t understand why I’m not jumping at the bit to chauffeur him off to Hickory, NC to see his online girlfriend and leave him there alone with her for a couple of hours. Did I mention that Hickory is “only” five hours away? Did I mention he’s only 14?

I’ve wrapped up one fund-raising event, but am settling in the realization that I still have several more to go, and the illusion of having a break between them is a pipe dream.

I’m a little homesick for Cincinnati, my friends there and its never-ending buffet of arts and culture, all the while ignoring, of course, its crappy football team, crazy politics and pollution.

There’s a part of me that wants to cross off everything on my “to do” list and replace it with “stay in pajamas, retire to bed and pull covers over head.”

There is an end in sight though.

Christmas is coming.animated-christmas-high-definition-wallpapers-cool-desktop-widescreen-photos

It’s only four days after Halloween and Christmas is upon us.

Since Saturday, November 1 by my calendar, I’ve received more than 12 holiday emails from retailers, avoided no less than six holiday specials on Lifetime and listened to zero holiday tunes on a local radio station, even though they are now playing them non-stop.

Usually, this is where I go into a holiday rant about giving me a break and allowing me to revel in one holiday before we go into another. Mostly, I think this is based on the guilt of not having even so much as looked at a single purchase in that “Oh, this would make a great present for someone” mindset or having knit a single stitch for that “oh so perfect handmade present.”

Usually, I get upset about the idea of Christmas decorations going up in stores on October 30 and how we ought to at least get through the Day of the Dead and Veterans Day before we start thinking about Thanksgiving, let alone Christmas. Usually, I’m already bemoaning what disasters will befall us THIS Thanksgiving day (and there are disasters) even without the sister-in-law from Hell in the house, and railing against how oppressive the Christmas holidays are.

But this year, it’s different.

This year, I think I need a little Christmas cheer. Maybe not 54 days of it, but still…

This year, I think I’m ready to start putting up lights and bringing out the Santas early.

Halloween-decorationsIn September, we put out the Halloween decorations in the yard. The inflatable “Pop Goes the Evil” maniacal clown Jack-in-the-Box with it’s creepy music has been playing in my yard and in my psyche for a month alongside the inflatable black cat, the inflatable overgrown spider and the inflatable “Witch meets Pumpkin.” Zombie corpses dot our graveyard front yard and a new skeleton dog has joined the troop. Tombstones line the top of my tea pot cabinet and Jack o’Lanterns loom from every surface of our living room, bathroom and kitchen. Wicked witches and ghostly pictures hang where we see them every day.

And I didn’t even get all the Halloween decorations out.

But now, I’m ready to put them away. I think I kind of want some joy.

I want to replace our black glittered roses in the bathroom with holly and evergreens. I want to see Santa and the promise of a happy Christmas morning instead of macabre faces and grimacing skeletons. I want to hold a season in childlike wonder instead of feigned fear.

Maybe I am getting old.

I miss the days when our kids looked forward to advent calendars filled with candy and presents under the tree and trips to the mall Santa who only mildly wreaked of cigarette smoke and bourbon. I miss the days when they counted down the “sleeps” ’til Christmas like the days ’til summer vacation.

I miss the days of my kitchen smelling of cloves and cinnamon and nutmeg and sugar cookies instead of barbeque and pumpkin spice.

I miss the days of happy embraces and red noses and long lingering hugs on the front steps, instead of the creepy movies on TV designed to scare the bejesus out of us.

That’s not to say we don’t have those feelings and expectations of happy anymore despite the season, but I want the most perfect of them now.

I want to feel that happy giddiness that comes with the expectation of a joyous morning and the coma-induced aftermath of present opening and unexpected surprises. I have plans for a few of those awe-inspiring surprises in store for the people who mean so much to me. I want to see them now. I want to linger on their expressions when they rip away the wrapping paper.

thanksgiving-dinner-story-topDon’t get me wrong, I love Thanksgiving. I love the feeling of having the people I care about close to me and eating with me the food that I’ve cooked. I love lounging on the couch and watching parades and football while the world’s most perfect turkey cooks in the oven. I love the lazy happiness that comes after a great party of mismatched dishes and more food than a family and friends could ever possibly eat.

Heck, I even like the bliss of a perfect Thanksgiving leftover sandwich, complete with turkey, stuffing and cranberry sauce.

But I think this year, after all the hardships and all the stress and all the turmoil, I need to just be happy for a while. Maybe even 54 days worth.Fridgi-Xmas-Photo-Presents-Open-1

There’s a carefree attitude that comes with Christmas that brings out the happy in those who let it infect them. And they tend to spread it amongst their friends and companions.

It’s the ebola of holidays.

So, for once, I’m ready to forego the whining and moaning about “One holiday at a time, please.” I’m ready to give up my pretense that I want to have breaks between my holidays and actually enjoy creating a warm, comforting environment. I’m ready to stop pretending that I don’t like it and I’m not looking forward to it. I’m ready to start seeing circles in the “Toys R Us” catalogue and turned down pages of “Wireless.” I’m ready to know that what I do over the next 54 days will bring some joy to someone.

I need some happy.

It’s been a really tough week.

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2014

Dear women’s magazines, I give up

Okay, women’s magazines, you win.

can't I give up.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not going to stop reading you, I’m just not going to succumb to your particular brand of torture anymore.

I’ve read women’s magazines since I was a little girl. I drooled over recipes and wondered what it would be like, as a teenager, to have the freedom to make “Pan-seared Duck with orange confit and a bed of microgreens.”

I’ll admit it, I’ve been a foodie since I was knee high to a Kitchen Aid, but now… I just don’t think I can take this anymore.

You’ve all just gone over the top.

Like any good foodie mom, I read your “How to make a gourmet dinner for your family in less than 30 minutes” and I want to be able to do that.

Making a dinner for my family that would please the palate of Gordon Ramsey in half an hour using only 15 simple ingredients? So doable, I thought.

Gone are the days of salmon patties with buttered egg noodles and corn. Tomorrow, it’s Korean beef lettuce wraps with soba noodles and edamame. I can do this!, I thought.

But now, you’re just being silly. Now, you’re putting in your magazines things no kid who isn’t starving or on a forced diet would eat.

It’s just that, recently, reality has hit me.

I don’t care what your cooks do in your kitchen, no matter how hard I try, there’s no way I’m making a three course dinner for four in less than an hour. I know, I know, you’ve got all those timing things outlined in your directions, but honestly, how you do all that chopping when you’ve got to help with homework and clean the house is beyond me.

And another thing, do you think you could start printing recipes that use ingredients I might actually have in my kitchen?

One recently included mashed parsnips.mashed-parsnips

Parsnips?

Really?

Who the hell buys parnsips on a regular basis?

I’d like to make gourmet meals, really I would.

But I think if I were to serve pomegranate, watercress and roasted macadamia nut salad my guys would look at me like I had stepped off of the pages of Bourgious Kitchen and straight into the world of la-la land.

And as much as I’d like to make a panko and peanut crusted chicken breast with orzo and a side of pan roasted broccolini, I’ve only got stove top stuffing mix, a can of cream of mushroom soup and some french-style green beans in my pantry.

I can’t go out spending $40 on one dish that my family will say “Eh. It was okay” to, when I’ve got another 13 dishes to make and only $300 to spend, over the next two weeks – and that includes money for pizza night!

A quick look at some of my cookbooks proves my point. In the Betty Crocker Family Dinners in a Hurry cookbook, circa 1969 (yes, I’m well aware that some of my cookbooks are just as old as I am – almost), there’s a recipe for Broiled Round Steak with Mustard Butter and Herbed Tomatoes that lists 8 ingredients for the main and side combined – and that’s INCLUDING the round steak! – that takes less than 20 minutes to make and serves 6.

In Southern Living’s May 2014 edition, the recipe for Flank Steak and Cucumber Salad lists 16 ingredients, including Asian chili paste (“such as Huy Fong” it says) and English cucumbers (in my head, I swear I was thinking “I say, are you a regular cucumber, or do you come from across the pond, dear chap?”).

Sixteen ingredients. For a salad. That takes nearly an hour to prepare. And serves 4.

Are you kidding me?

When the boys were younger, I was an industrious chef.

witches fingersI’d make Halloween dinners that looked like witches’ fingers with ghostly shaped mashed potatoes. I made weekday dinners of tuna melts that looked like little boats with American cheese slice sails. I made decorated cupcakes for school birthday parties.

(Just a note – when you make cupcakes in ice cream cones decorated to look like.. well, ice cream cones… uhm, there’s no way you can ever get over the look in your kids’ school friends’ faces when they realize it’s not, in reality, ice cream.)

But today, … uhm… not so much.

Tonight when I went into the kitchen, I had no idea what I was making until I found a freezer bag of the poultry variety, a box of long grain and wild rice mix, some potato chips, shredded cheese and a can of mushroom soup.

Thank God, for cream of mushroom soup.

Throw that together with sauteed onions, pimentos and frozen peas, and viola! Casserole surprise!

Still took an hour though. And that’s not counting the time spent pondering what the hell am I supposed to make tonight.

But it was affordable. I would say I probably spent $7-$10 on the whole meal, and that’s including the meat substance – whatever it was.

And they ate it! They actually ate it and said “Not bad, Mom.”

Running to the store to buy the ingredients of the aforementioned flank steak and I would have easily gone through $40, and that’s not including Huy Fong (whatever the hell that is, and depending entirely on whether my small town Southern grocery store would have actually had anything remotely resembling it).mom in store

It’s just too much.

If I’m honest, I just don’t have the time for that crap. Heck, I don’t even know where I would find pomegranates in my hometown.

I’m all about good cooking and living with nice things, but enough is enough. I’m not ever going to host a party where my friends are going to turn up their noses at my cornbread salad, or homemade guacamole. I like all your stuff, but, damn, it’s just too over the top anymore. Can’t you just print normal recipes?

I want my family to be happy, but not at the cost of spending beyond my means. And I’m not alone. Making a gourmet dinner for my family at the cost of their college funds? Not likely.

You all go ahead and make your spinach infused fish fillets with cous cous and sauteed Italian eggplant.

I’ll be the one making fried chicken in my cast-iron skillet and smiling when my kids actually eat it.

Course, that does cut down on the money I save in eating leftovers though…

 

Copyright (c) Liz Carey 2014