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Dear Diary – It’s hard to believe that a year ago, we were preparing for the holidays with the threat of lockdowns over our heads, as the numbers of covid cases rose alarmingly. I spent my first Christmas away from my parents in almost 50 years. We met in the parking lot halfway between our homes for 5 minutes, long enough to swap gifts, snap a pic and wave. I dashed through a grocery store to buy last minute groceries, and I bought a turkey from a friend who had an extra one.

With optimism, we were told it would all be over by next Christmas if we all pulled together. Some of us never stopped pulling. At least I can say:

Dear Diary – Is cheese on apple pie really weird? I know that green tomato pie grosses a lot of people out, but it’s a long-standing tradition on my Dad’s side. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it! I also grew up with cold cheddar cheese on warm apple pie, not the processed kind (that’s gross), but a thick slab of aged cheddar. The only other options were whipped cream or ice-cream.

I had no idea that cheese on pie could be as polorizing as pineapple on pizza. The idea started in England in the early 17th century, with diary-based sauces in pies, which transitioned to on pies. Poet, Eugene Field wrote, “But I, when I undress me / Each night, upon my knees / Will ask the Lord to bless me / With apple pie and cheese.” Mr. Field experienced apple pie differently than us. Apples just weren’t as sweet then, as they are today. Red delicious apples didn’t appear until 2 centuries later, and with the lack of refrigeration, ice-cream was out of the question. Cheese offered a salty addition to a rather bland fruit pie. The trend travelled across the pond and is more common in farming communities, where cheese is produced, than in cities, where ice-cream is king. What’s your preference?

An apple pie without the cheese is like a kiss without the squeeze.

Dear Diary – An old Facebook Memory from December 2016 came up in my feed:

“Told I look “creepy” in my nightshirt by my child. Considering walking child to the school door wearing nightshirt. Now that would be creepy.”

Dear Diary – It’s toffee time! Armed with my very specific list, I braved the bulk food store for my Christmas baking ingredients, and chocolate hazelnut toffee was at the top of the list! The recipe came from an old Woman’s World magazine (such a sexiest title)!

The first step was to finely chop the hazelnuts, which proved to be a challenge because hazelnuts are round. Every time I tried to slice, and at risk to my fingers, the nut would ping off the counter. They were louder and larger than the bbs that went flying the weekend before, but that’s another story. Bottomline, they both hurt when you step on them, and they both like to roll under the stove. Someday I’ll clean under there and I’ll wonder why there are peas, hazelnuts and bbs.

Then I had a brilliant idea, that prompted me to tell my guys to keep their hands off my nuts: The Slap Chop! Creepy informercial pitchman Vince used to “wow” us in ads for a chopping machine that “slices and dices” food when you slap the plunger. Except that I’m too short to get much leverage. Hubby and Younger Son, who tower over me, had to step in.

They were only too happy to step in to sample too. I had to set the timer on the microwave to keep the wolves at bay until the chocolate had set…and even then some of the chocolate stuck to the counter when I turned it out. After complaining that I’m never in family photos, Hubby stepped in there too.

You didn’t seriously expect me to let good chocolate go to waste!

Dear Diary – Note to self: mini wheats as a last minute bed time snack is a poor choice because I can’t just hork it down in a hurry. It requires chewing, thorough chewing or I choke on the “sticks”. It sticks in my teeth and around the gumline so brushing is “extra special”. And this time, the milk…something was off with that milk. Better to stick with something healthy and sensible…like fruit, with chocolate.

Dear Diary – The Squirrel Games has intensified. Two weeks ago, Hubby had to make some adjustments to our bird feeder because a trio of black squirrels had found it and the leader of the pack is settling in nearby for the winter. He’s an adept trapeze artist. It’s not uncommon to catch him hanging under the feeder, and hunting with his forepaw for the goodies. I wouldn’t object to feeding the squirrels if they weren’t such pigs! But now that some birds have finally found the feeder, I want to enjoy them too. It may be closest I get to a pet since I live with Scrooge.

Older Son offered some firepower, but long story short, both of his parents failed to get it to work, and someone barely missed me, so the “toys” have been safely put away. I suspect sabotage…squirrel sabotage!

In a feeble attempt to discourage this rogue, Hubby nailed down some “scat cat” pads, plastic squares with spikes. The railing looks like something from Mad Max, but the birds don’t seem to mind. Neither does the squirrel, apparently.

Hubby decided we should take down the feeder and I was terribly discouraged. Maybe it’s the time of year, missing loved ones and knowing so many who are experiencing their first Christmas without someone, others, their last. Maybe it’s the knowledge that Younger Son will be leaving the nest soon, and can’t wait to “escape”! Maybe it’s the uncertainty of holiday plans as covid numbers rise and we just don’t know when, or if, we’ll be with family. Lately it feels like even the little things that give me pleasure keep being taken away. I just have to keep committing it all to the Lord. He knows my heart. And my squirrel!!

It snowed softly yesterday, and in between piles of dishes and cherry squares (that taste good but look like Mad Max baked them), I watched a number of little feathered friends visiting in the back. One little nuthatch especially caught my eye. He must have felt very safe there because he nestled down on the outer ledge of the feeder and watched the snow falling too.

Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

Matthew 6:26 (NIV)

Dear Diary – I’m taking my friend on a quest north for her covid booster shot. Unfortunately, she’s booked in the middle of rush hour. I sense adventure, and not the “good” kind.

Reference: Cheese & Apple Pie