Tuesday, June 19, 2012

An Ode To Paprika

She was just a little shaker - cute to be sure, but rarely had the screen time of her obviously famous parents.  She was thrust into fame as a baby, clutching bottle and rattle while being asked to perform with a big blue cartoon dog.  Forever upstaged.  Yet she was my favorite.


If your children were tiny when mine were, or if you had a love of all thinks Nick Jr. (regardless of age), you may recall a certain show named Blue's Clues.  Blue was a lopping big dog with a master whose condiments (and mailbox) were alive. 

Paprika.  My favorite spice of the summer, derived from the pepper, known often for its burnt orange/red color.  In the 1950s and 1960s it could often be found sprinkled liberally on deviled eggs or mashed potatoes.  Housewives did their best Betty Crocker and incorporated this lovely hue with things that perhaps didn't need paprika...but, really, that's like saying parsley is an unnecessary garnish.  Crazy talk.

Little paprika.  It has become my summer favorite, though, because it is invaluable in barbecue.  While 1970s children were generally raised in the Midwest feeling that barbecue chicken means cook it on the grill with a smattering of Open Pit, maturing barbecuers have figured that a good spice rub goes miles longer than a liquid sauce and can turn otherwise dull (and cheap) meat into something mildly impressive.  So next time the drumsticks are on sale for a crazy low amount of money, consider this rub....apply and truly rub it in (get your hands dirty - if won't hurt)...if you must, feel free to put some sauce on only after you finally remove the chicken from your grill.

I make this amount and use it on about 12 drumsticks:

1/4 c minus 1 T Old Bay seasoning
2 T garlic salt
2 T paprika
1 T onion powder
1 T cracked black pepper
1 T ginger

To adjust flavors, try adjusting garlic salt and replacing the same amount omitted with celery salt or onion salt.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Hands that need spackle

I realized this morning (the light must have been just 'right')...I realized how my hands are really showing their age.  The fat in my face is mostly staving off the wrinkles, and the fact that I'm freckled helps any other offending spots kind of blend in.  But my hands - those are hard to hide.  And there they are - a pattern of lines akin to an elephant's knee.

This particular glamour shot is my right hand.  It's not particularly attractive.  The fingers have always been a bit short and the nails are hardly ever long and polished.  (They are, however, clean...my momma raised me right.)

I see the shiny wrinkles - the crevices - the spots that I know are not freckles, but I refuse to use the term "age spots".  But my Grandma had them - Lil had overworked hands but years in a factory.  I remember the age spots and the sagging skin.  Her hands were far more pale in spite of her heritage.  I seem to have received the ability to tan and so mine look a bit more like sun stretched elephant skin.

My mom's hands were very sinewy - the tops bulged with veins and overwork.  They were pale but her fingers were longer and her knuckles bigger.  Yet they were always smooth on the top.  I remember touching them, even at the end, marking to memory the fact that her hands were so smooth in spite of years of keeping an immaculate house.  I think the sinewy part was from the other years - of typing like crazy long before the gentle stroke of a computer keyboard created written words.

When I was young I used to play with my dad's hands just because the skin was already so saggy.  I can remember sitting in church and making 'mountains' of the skin on the top of his hands.  The skin would stay in place after I pinched it together and it fascinated me.  I remember also being scared - because I associated that skin with the skin of age and I convinced myself on multiple occasions that he was going to be in heaven soon.  Instead, he was at my son's ball game last night - all 89 years of him and his still saggy hands.

This summer morning I listened to birds and frogs and familiar summer humming.  Those noises that seem more prevalent in summer that we tend to forget we don't hear as the seasons change.  Leaves that rustle and even the steady whack of a hammer from some building site.  It occurred to me that the hands I noticed this morning were around when I was very young and would lay in my bed on summer mornings listening for my neighbor friend to get outside and hearing my mom vacuum with the radio on just a bit too loud.  Only now these hands have had years of life - years of work and sports and wiping faces (and other body parts)...Each line and wrinkle represents something - good and bad, happy and side.  And while the summer sounds don't change, I expect my hands will continue to show the ever passing minutes and hours and days and years.  And, interestingly, my vision of the hand that has held me all these years - though I have humanized it at time - has never gotten wimpier or old or tired -  my Father's hand has stayed the same, in spite of the aging of my own.

I think I'll go lather on some lotion...maybe I can spackle some of these cracks....

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Summer Writer Oddities....of spotty mirrors & sauerkraut

It feels like the first day of summer vacation this week.  It's not really the first day - but it feels like it.
Because summer is for sleeping in and, in Michigan, jamming anything related to warm weather into about 75 days I have decided to randomly post some oddities about myself.  Why?  Because it was pointed out that they are oddities....not in the serial killer kind of way, but in that "wow - she seemed so normal" way.  Plus it's in keeping with jamming random things into a short (page).  So here goes...as if it didn't already appear that I'm on the edge of normal:

  • I unplug things.  Randomly.  A lot.  I envision electricity being spent on random things that aren't in use and I go a little batty.  Then I go to use my water boiler or coffee maker and for about 30 seconds I get frustrated because it won't work.

  • Spots on mirrors are a major irritation.  I blame my parents.  BOTH.  Using glass cleaner and paper towel in the bathroom was always a daily thing for them.  I've actually tried relaxing on this - and if I throw my hair in a pony tail and barely look in the mirror (which I should apologize for to those who get to see me after this)...then I can put off my OCD mirror cleaning. 

  • I like elevator music.  Muzak.  Orchestrations of formerly popular songs (violin-filled, wordless 'Like A Virgin' anyone?)  I grew up in decades when 105.7 was called 'WOOD-FM' and it was filled with such music.  My mom listened to it often.  This music takes me back to that kinder, gentler time.  Plus I think it doesn't require a lot of active listening - it's background music.

  • I can't do hair.  I couldn't do sausage curl rolls on the side of my face in the 70s, I could tease my hair in the 80s but it never lasted long, and I definitely can't straighten my hair.  In fact, putting any plug-in device near my head and expecting good results is insanity.  I don't wear pony tails and headbands almost all the time because I think they're stylish - I do it because I can't do hair.  Period.

  • Food - I thoroughly dislike mushrooms and black olives and cottage cheese.  In oddities I like column are green olives, Oscar Mayer Braunschweiger, sauerkraut, and the first couple of pieces of (again) Oscar Mayer bologna.  It must be the first couple of pieces - after that it doesn't taste the same.  And, yes, I know what's "in that stuff" and I would never eat the ingredients on their own.  But telling me what's "in that stuff" won't change anything at this point - I'm (ahem ) 40-something...if I'm not over it by now I will never be over it.

  • I can't sleep with socks on.  No matter how hot.  And I must be covered when I sleep.  And the doors must all be locked.  And, yes, I will get up even when sleeping - I will be awakened somehow - and check that doors are locked.  You only find it amusing until I have saved you from obliteration from the scary hockey-mask wearing guy outside your (previously) unlocked door.  You can thank me later.

  • "That don't impress me much"....I know too many people who are (were) in debt with their fancy car - who have left their family or ethics or faith when they "got pretty" (lost weight, had surgery, etc.) - and, sadly, I've seen people do stupid things with extra money.  Sometimes I do sit and wonder how they do it - or really want to know the inner workings of their decision-making process - but these inner musings aren't the same as being impressed.  I'm not easily impressed.  Just ask my children...I really should be more easily impressed in some areas of life...I better tell them today that I really love their outfits or something.