Tuesday, May 19, 2009

The Badge

As I walked through the lobby of my building, I noticed one thing everyone had in common – they (we) were all wearing an identification badge of some sort. The badges are all shapes, sizes and colors, just like people. But they all serve the same purpose -- to give us access to a certain place. Soooooo, I started thinking (yes, I know it is dangerous when I think, however, this is a good one). What if we all had to wear a badge regarding our salvation; to show whether or not we would be admitted to the Kingdom of Heaven?

We all wear our work badges prominently displayed on our person to show we have access to a place where others aren’t permitted to go. But, given the opportunity, would we wear our “I am a Christian” badge just as proudly or would we hide it behind the lining of our coat? What if we were forced to wear a badge that listed all of our sins – on a daily basis? That each day we got up, the badge would look different according to the sins we had committed the previous day. Would we proudly wear that badge? I think the answer would be no. But you know what? Jesus wears the badge of our sins – daily, proudly. The scars on his hands and feet prove it.

I’m just sayin’,

--Margo

Monday, May 18, 2009

The Truth About Homemade Gravy

I enjoy cooking. While my own palate is not varied, (I’m a meat, potatoes and M&M’s kind of girl) I do enjoy preparing a variety of foods for my family. Whenever possible, and time permitting, I like to make things “from scratch” as opposed to opening up a mix of some sort. Stop laughing -- it’s true!

Recently, my husband and I endeavored to prepare our own “from scratch” biscuits and gravy. Some of you may think this is the easiest and most natural thing in the world; however, homemade gravy has always intimidated me. I’ve never been able to get it right and always ended up with a blob of something that even the hungriest of dogs wouldn’t ingest. One morning, while preparing our homemade biscuits (a recipe we have now perfected), my husband suggested that we make our own gravy. WHAT??...Homemade gravy??...No way!! I immediately broke out in a sweat. I admitted to him that I had never been successful in preparing an edible gravy mixture. He insisted it couldn’t be that difficult and there had to be a good recipe on the internet. After a few minutes of searching, we found a simple recipe to try. I held my breath throughout the entire process. Would it be lumpy? Would it be smooth? Would it be the right color? Would it be toxic to those who ate it (I don’t eat gravy)? Would the boys hide for fear that we would force them to eat a globbed and burnt mixture? And most importantly, how would it taste? Finally, the moment of truth came. It was a success! The recipe turned out to be fool/Benita-proof. Since that morning, we have turned out many a boat of gravy with no flops!

For those who might be interested, here are the recipes for Roberts Homemade Biscuits and Gravy:

Homemade Biscuits:

2 cups flour
½ teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
5 tablespoons shortening
1 cup milk

Sift dry ingredients together in a bowl. Cut in shortening; then add milk, stir. Roll dough out onto a floured surface, until approximately ½ to 1 inch thick (depends on your preference). If dough is sticky, add a small amount of flour. Cut with biscuit cutter (or any desired shape). Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes. This time is approximate depending on your oven.

Notes: We use a baking stone instead of a cookie sheet. We also found that brushing a little bit of olive oil on the top of each biscuit during the last 5 minutes of baking improves the browning process.

Homemade Gravy:

¼ cup bacon grease
¼ cup all purpose flour
2 cups milk

salt and pepper to taste

Add flour to hot grease. Stir very well to eliminate lumps. Cook on low heat until mixture turns “golden” in color. Continue to stir frequently. Slowly, very slowly, add milk, stirring constantly. If you add the milk quickly, it will scorch. Cook on low boil until thickened. Add salt and pepper according to your taste. It doesn’t take but a few minutes, but it is best NOT to turn your back on the gravy or leave it unattended. It is an attention hog and likes to be stirred for best results.


If you have a good "from scratch" recipe, let me know.

I'm just sayin',

--Margo

Monday, May 11, 2009

Summertime Memories

As I was driving on the interstate going to lunch one day recently, I found myself driving behind a small pickup truck with 3 children in the bed of the truck. Yes, I know this is illegal and I should have run them down and made my best Gomer Pyle "citizen's arrest" address, but they seemed so carefree, just enjoying the sun on their faces and the wind in their hair. Oh how I would have loved to be one of those children, riding down the road, not a care in the world. I began thinking back to my childhood, reflecting on how we spent our summers, and I found myself asking “whatever happened to the good old days?” Now to each person, the “good old days” represent something totally different, but to me, those days represent a life full of happiness, naiveté, anticipation and excitement.

When I was a child we spent our entire summer outdoors. We had no video games to play nor did we have 175 channels to watch on TV. We spent all of our time OUTSIDE – which is almost unheard of this day in time. We played 4-square, hide & seek, hopscotch, and Barbie. We baked pies on the mud table an older gentleman had built at his house across the street. We shucked corn, hulled peas and ate plums and peaches until we thought we would be sick. We had picnic lunches consisting of PB&J sandwiches and potato chips. We would swing on our swing sets and pretend we were touching the sky with our toes. We would roll down large grassy hills until we were itching all over. We endured the ever dreaded “tick search” when we came inside. We rode our bikes over the numerous dirt hills in our neighborhood and picked blackberries. We had lemonade stands…we drank it all of course. We ate muscadines and crab apples right off the tree. The only cleaning they received before we ate them was on our muddy shirts. We went swimming….alot! And on the days we couldn’t go swimming, we ran through the sprinkler. We put towels on our heads and pretended they were our bridal veils. And oh, the mosquito bites….we were covered in them, but we didn’t have to worry about West Nile Virus back then, we just scratched and went on our way. We could walk around the block, several times, with no fear of someone snatching us off the street. We were angry because we had to come inside at dark – we had so much more playing to do and were afraid we were going to miss it! I will never forget standing on the street in front of our house, money in hand, waiting on the Popsicle® man. We couldn’t hear our mothers call us in at dark, but we could hear his special music 3 streets over and knew he would soon be coming with pushups and bomb pops.

One of my fondest memories was anxiously awaiting the Weekly Reader to come in the mail…something addressed to me and me alone. It was a big deal for a child to receive something in the mail! There would be a really cool special edition the week of the 4th of July. I would read each one of those little newsletters cover to cover and pretend I was one of the kids who got to go on all the wild adventures.

On the 4th of July, we would eat all the barbequed ribs we could and didn’t worry about cholesterol, calories or carbohydrates…..just ate until we were full! We also ate watermelon and let the juice run down our arms…it didn’t matter how sticky and messy we were.

Yes, these are some fond memories from my childhood….oh to be a kid again!


I'm just askin', what are your favorite childhood memories?

--Margo