Saturday, August 27, 2011

In Praise of Hush Puppies

Everyone I know is talking about The Help. The book, the movie, what you loved about them, whether they are a fair account of the way things were, on and ON. I read the book in three days and won't go another weekend without seeing the film.

But what I can't stop thinking about is how much that story aligns with my own family history. We never lived in the South, but my dad was raised in Mississippi in the 1960s: you do the math. It's fascinating to hear people talk about the movie and the book as if they were alien tales, because they really aren't. You want to know the Skeeters and the Hillys? You head to my dad's front porch in Red Banks and it will come to life. Ten minutes there and you will learn about the African American staff that raised up and supported the Harris family--Mama Lillian, Toad Frog, Doodle and Chubby. Toad Frog might even stop by. No kidding.

So as I untangle what it means to be part of this very complicated and...complicated...piece of American history (one that extends much farther back than the 1960s), I'm really enjoying the element of at least *knowing* my history. Very few people can trace their family roots the way I'm able to--back to Reverend William Harris of Bedford, Virginia, born in 1780. This website has all the juicy details from then until now, including some fascinating information on Harris soldiers in the Confederate army. Wowza.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Emotional Eating: Not Just for Rainy Days!

My Grandpa John is 92, and he's not feeling so hot this week. Since I'm here on the west coast with nothing to do but call my mom to check in, I decided to eat sweet corn in celebration of my favorite Nebraska farmer.

I was hoping to make a chilled corn soup, but since I *still* don't have a fine-meshed sieve (first world problem!), I bagged that and went for sauteed instant gratification.

Grandpa John's Creamy Sweet Corn

6 ears sweet corn, cut from cob
2 Tbs. butter
1 spoonful low-fat cream cheese
1 glug skim milk
paprika (smoked if you've got it)
sea salt and cracked pepper

Heat up a skillet, melt half the butter and throw in your corn until it's turning a happy sunshine color. I could eat sweet corn raw, so I don't cook it more than about four minutes. Add the S&P, paprika, and cilantro. Then toss in the cream cheese, help it get melty in the pan, turn down your heat and finish with the butter and milk. Add more S&P if you like.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

What I'd be saying on Facebook...

1. I think The Help is about to land itself on Stuff White People Like.
2. Heartburn is like having little gremlins climb up your esophagus and yell, "BITE ME, you sonuva gun!" And I just whimper in reply.
3. The week after Camp Side-by-Side is also the week when I remember everything else that's still happening in the world: riots, bills to be paid, flower beds to stare at helplessly.
4. It's a hard to take care of oneself around people who don't know how to do that for themselves. Or who do it so differently than I do.
5. I miss Oprah.
6. Grocery shopping at Target is literally the opposite of watching Food, Inc.
7. Chicken: You are so disgusting when you are raw, and sometimes when you are not raw.
8. Marital satisfaction rises when all parties are doing their chores.
9. Most pregnancy trends have turned out not to be true.
10. I'm hoping most parenting trends will turn out to be unimportant: I'm not paying much attention to them because it's too easy to get freaked out.
11. I still love making new friends.
12. We are having a BOY!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Like asking her to swallow the sun

I'm trying to form a new habit these days, and part of the new habit is breaking the old habit--spending too much time on Facebook. Ugh. Anyway the point is that I want to redirect some of those gossipy pitstops to more interesting and authentic ones. So far I'm reading EVERY article in the paper and wondering how many cute baby picture posts I'm missing.

But this morning I woke up to read a blurb by a local food-writing hero, Molly Wizenberg, and she pointed me in the direction of a TED talk by Elizabeth Gilbert. I admit that I'd heard of TED and knew that all important techy, savvy people liked it, but until two weeks ago when my friend Lacey practically DEMANDED (on Facebook, oh sweet irony!) that we pay more attention, I hadn't even been to the website. I'll go ahead and embed Ms. Gilbert's talk because you know I love to embed videos, but more importantly, I just have to say out loud: I'm so glad to know other creative people get stuck too. And I'm so glad creative people can look at each other and say, We got to stick together. Because the injustice of creative people literally losing their minds? No thanks.

I might be giving myself too much credit here, I don't have an Eat, Pray, Love under my belt, but I do understand the shitty state of depression, so I resonated in about 1,000 ways with the way she describes that tipping point in a creative process where you think you have NO talent and NO potential and, as my mom would say, you're going to end up in the GUTTER. And then the other side of the mountain is where God's spirit (that's how I see it, at least) bubbles up through you and all that magic and creativity gushes on through. That's quite a tightrope.

This is all pretty woo-woo. But you know what? Without the woo, we'd all be engineers.