Posted by Trish Milburn Dec 15 2009, 5:11 am in 12 Bandita Days of Christmas, foods
Anyone who knows me knows that I’m not a fan of winter. As soon as the temperature starts dipping into the 50s for highs, I start staring longingly toward Florida. From about November through March, I’m colder than I want to be. I live with layers of fleece and a space heater going next to my desk. My husband bought me fingerless typing gloves a few Christmases ago because my hands (particularly my right, since it’s on the computer mouse a lot) go ice cold unless I get up and exercise.
It’s this time a year that I wish I was a coffee drinker. Or even a hot tea drinker. Alas, I don’t like either. But this is the only time of the year that Starbucks makes any money off me — for their yummy hot chocolate.
In November of 2008, I think I hit half a dozen Starbucks locations in New York City when my agent and I met there to visit with the editors at my young adult publishing house. It was really cold (seriously, even New Yorkers were bundled up and looking pained), so every time we had to go somewhere and passed a Starbucks, in we ducked for hot chocolate.
I also love soups during the cold months. Potato soup, tomato soup, vegetable, chicken noodle, lentil — you name it. When I go to Panera Bread for lunch and some writing time away from home, I typically get one of their hearty soups.
Another cold weather staple is a pot of white beans with cornbread. Not only is this warm and hearty, but with a couple of cans of Bush’s Great Northern beans with a piece of bacon thrown in for flavor and a package of Jiffy corn muffin mix, it’s also really easy. As someone who isn’t a big fan of cooking, I like easy.
Finally, I love a big bowl of chicken and dumplings. I’ve been eating this dish since I was a little thing. I can remember my grandma making dumplings from scratch and me actually snagging a couple of pieces of raw dough to eat. Okay, so that wasn’t very healthy and it sounds gross now, but at the time I thought it was awesome. What was even more awesome was the finished product. My grandma has been gone nearly 30 years, so most of my chicken and dumplings come from Cracker Barrel now.
So, I’m curious. What dishes do you turn to for keeping you warm in the winter? Also, I’m looking for some good soup or dumpling recipes. Please take pity on this cold soul and share. One poster today will receive a $10 gift certificate to Starbucks as we continue our 12 Bandita Days of Christmas.
Posted by Nancy Northcott Sep 26 2009, 4:37 am in foods, seasons, summer vacation, T-shirts
It’s that time of year again in the northern hemisphere. Summer’s over. Kids are going back to school, there’s a faint hint of coolness in the night air, and the fireflies are gone. If only the mosquitos would go with them.
After Labor Day, people tend to stop wandering, focus on business, and call an end to playtime. This is the time of year when we used to have to write school essays called some variation of “What I Did on my Summer Vacation.” Remember those? Mine used to be about swimming, since we did a lot of that in the summer, and about trips to Florida to see my cousins on my father’s side. There were always short trips to see my mom’s siblings and their families, too. And a week at the beach, where my dad would take one day to go out fishing on a boat. We built sand castles, and he taught me to swim out beyond the breakers. He’d grown up in Manila, in the Philippine Islands, and had served in the Navy, so he was comfortable in the water.
In August, we used to put down a blanket in the front yard and watch the Perseid meteor shower. The ambient light in our small town was so minimal that it didn’t blot out the stars. On other summer nights, my parents sat in the front yard in lawn chairs, with empty ones beside them so whoever wandered down the street could sit and chat.
My dad made peach ice cream in a hand-crank freezer. The ice packed into it came from the same place that had supplied ice blocks for my grandparents’ ice boxes, forerunners of refrigerators. When he finished, we got to scrape ice cream off the paddles. He also liked to peel and slice peaches, add sugar, and freeze them. I remember eating slushy, crunchy, sweet, half-thawed peaches for dessert.
My mom grew tomatoes, so tomato sandwiches were a staple, along with sliced tomatoes for meals. The tastes of summer were tomatoes, peaches, and watermelon. And, when I was deemed old enough at last, sweet iced tea.
Now my summers tend to be about preparing for fall. We took a family vacation, and I went to RWA, but I had projects to complete. Summer is no longer a time for being lazy in whatever way presents itself. We played catch-up, though not with particular success, and I tried to whittle the TBR pile. Alas, but it keeps growing despite my efforts. The dh did yard work and minor household repairs. The boy practiced his guitar and art lessons and spent some time with his girlfriend. The dog thought up new ways to mooch.
I did make it to Atlanta a couple of times and bought peaches on the way, along the same stretch of highway where my dad liked to buy them. It’s not quite the same, but it’ll do. And when we stopped on Labor Day, coming home from DragonCon, for our last fresh peaches of the season, the stand where we bought them was also selling homemade peach ice cream. Not as good as my dad’s, but it was tasty.
The dh hates the summer heat and mugginess but loves spring and fall. He grew up in the Colorado Front Range, where spring and fall are brief and the summer air is light, and went to college in New Hampshire, where winter lasts a long time. Come winter, he won’t wear a sweater because “it’s not cold here.” Compared to the Front Range in winter, probably not. He likes to poke around in the yard in the spring and fall–which is the only reason anything blooms in our yard, considering that the thing I do best for plants is kill them–savoring the seasons. If he can, he likes to put in a garden. We had green beans into November one mild year.
Now fall is officially here. We’re all back at school in our various capacities. NC apples will show up in the markets. The trees will turn, life will settle into a routine, and we’ll soon be digging out sweaters. Before we know it, Halloween will be upon us, then Thanksgiving and the rush leading into Christmas and the lull before New Year’s, and then we’ll be in the depth of winter again, looking forward to another summer.
We’re traveling today, leaving home early to go to a wedding in one of the heavily flooded counties of northern Georgia. But I’ll be back late this afternoon. Meanwhile, please send good wishes toward a young bride and groom looking for a dry place to say “I do” since the flooding torpedoed their plans and tell us–
How was your summer vacation? What foods or activities do you associate with summer? What’s your favorite season, and why?