Summer Suppers

It’s been pretty hot and humid here in the northeast, and when it’s that hot, nobody wants to cook. Even heating up a bowl of soup in the microwave sounds like too much work. Of course there are always the salad-and-sandwich suppers; cool and low maintenance.

But there are other options for hot weather meals. The following are five of my favorites because they are not only delicious, but are pretty easy to prepare. In no particular order, they are:

“*Iron Sandwiches” – these are great on hot nights and are also great for picnics. They are a take-off on paninis, which are wonderful, but not a lot of fun to make on a hot night.

“Salad With Meaty Bits” – make your own salad (or just go buy a salad kit) and add in chopped ham, chicken, feta cheese, olives, shrimp, leftover steak, etc.

“Mediterranean Plate” – pick up a few tubs of hummus (my own favorites are lemon, red pepper, garlic, and pine nut). Fill up a platter with baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, cut-up green or red peppers, celery sticks, sliced zucchini and cukes, etc. Add some sticks of string cheese, rolled up ham or salami, and open up a few boxes of crackers, and start dipping. (Great with a glass of wine.)

“Lettuce Cups” – using Boston lettuce (they very obligingly curl up into “cups”), fill them with chicken or seafood or ham salad. Cut up a loaf of crusty bread, and serve either with butter, or put out small cups filled with olive oil with a little balsamic vinegar drizzled in and a sprinkle of rosemary.

“Strawberry Shortcake Miracle Supper” – If you’re a Yankee like me, “real” strawberry shortcake starts with homemade biscuits, not spongecake. You can either make your own and freeze them, or buy some at a bakery. In any case, split the biscuit in half, ladle on as much strawberries and their juice as possible, and top with whipped cream. Again, homemade is better, but of course you can buy it in a spray can.

FYI: I am not going to dignify using that product that sounds like “fool pip,” either.

The story of how strawberry shortcake became a summer supper began when I was in grade school. It was a very hot evening, and I had just come home from playing with a friend. Mom and Dad were sitting on the front porch eating strawberry shortcake. 

This was so far from normal that I actually held my breath. My mother always made nourishing and delicious meals, and no one ate dessert until the meal was over. As I stumbled up the porch stairs, Mom gave me one of her “well, so what?” looks and said, “it’s just too hot to cook, so we’re having dessert for supper.”

I never forgot how wonderful it was to eat dessert for dinner. I highly recommend it.

*Directions for the “iron sandwich,” so named by my mother:

Split a sub roll, and spread with mayo or mustard or whatever you prefer. My personal favorite is cilantro lime creamy salad dressing. Fill the roll with cold roast beef, onions, pickles and arugula (or whatever you like), then wrap the sandwich tightly in waxed paper.

Put it in the ‘fridge and press it with a flat iron (or a heavy plate, etc. You get the idea.) This is why they’re called “iron sandwiches.” Flattening like this melds all the flavors together, and trust me; it’s a wonderful thing.

Losing It…Maybe, Maybe Not, But Probably….

As I am soon to turn 66, I think more and more about age and age-related afflictions such as dementia or Alzheimer’s. Then there is joint trouble, heart issues, nerve damage and a host of other non-lovely things that may happen. And of course I’ve been doing the “what did I walk into this room for?” for years now.

My eyesight is getting worse; no surprise there; it happens. The other day I was down in the basement getting ready to start some laundry, when I realized I had a new top to wash for the first time. So I squinted to read the label to see what the washing instructions were. Well, you know how tiny the print is on the dang things, so I swore my way up the stairs to get a pair of glasses to read it.

After that, I bought reading glasses for each and every room in the house. Problem solved!

But what really scared me was when I started misspelling things, or in some cases, left out letters entirely while typing on the computer. I kept envisioning myself in a nursing home, slumped over and drooling, unable to write any longer. Well, it turns out that I am not losing it. The problem is that my keyboard was sticky and some letters wouldn’t work unless you hammered down on them.

Then there is the “I’m not deaf; YOU are!” that both the Crankee Yankee and I tell each other. To fix this issue, we got a set of walkie-talkies. This was useful when the Crankee Yankee was outside working, and I was inside, or vice-versa.

Great concept, bad follow-up. Walkies don’t have a large range, so often we couldn’t reach each other. Then we got too silly with it; he was “Red Leader” and I was “Bling-Bling” (for all the jewelry I like to wear). We kept cracking each other up until both of us didn’t want to answer on the walkies anymore.

However, just for the record, I swear people are speaking faster and softer than ever. Yesterday I stopped for a coffee at the drive-up window, paid for it and got my coffee. The girl at the window smiled and said, and I quote: “Haggagooaay!” It took me a while to realize that she actually said, “Have a good day!”

All the things I did when I was younger have come back to haunt me in different body parts: learning and then teaching Tae Kwon Do, hiking, skiing, running, aerobics, power yoga, etc. At the time I was enjoying these activities (and never woke up with an ache or pain!), it never occurred to me to think about what all of this was doing to my body.

But you know what? If someone warned me back in my 30s that eventually I would have two torn rotator cuffs, shin splints, a knee revision, a bunion on one foot and a bad back, I would have just dismissed it with ‘oh, that won’t happen to me!’

What is it that the wonderful Penn-Dutch say about age? “We grown too soon old, and too late smart!”

Ain’t that the truth!

 

 

Actually, We ARE Deserving!

How many times have we coveted something; a new car, a fabulous spa day, a trip to Madrid, bling-y jewelry, a handmade pair of soft leather boots, etc.? And how many times have we then thought, ‘oh no; that’s not for me—I don’t deserve that.’

Even when I’m in a grocery store and walk by a free sample table of some food I love, I automatically say, ‘oh, no thank you.” WHY? Why can’t I just take that delicious cupcake/slice of pizza/crunchy strip of maple bacon/etc., and just enjoy it?

I’ll tell you why in my case; I carry around a party-pooper voice in my head that says, ‘oh, I don’t think you really need that, do you?’ As if I’m not worthy enough somehow to enjoy a free cupcake. And where does that get me? Cupcake-less, that’s what!

Whenever this happens, I walk away, full of self-righteousness about not accepting something I might have enjoyed, right along with that sick feeling of ‘I really wanted that!’ What earthly purpose does it serve for us to act like some up-tight Puritan walking away from America’s first Thanksgiving (and probably delicious) dinner?

Of course there are some things we ought to back away from; a rattlesnake in a bad mood, an angry driver, poison ivy, a bear trap, piranha, spoiled meat, a nail gun you’ve never used before, and so on. You get the picture.

But denying ourselves these little harmless pleasures is counter-productive. Why not take that free cupcake at the grocery store? Why not accept a compliment? Why not look in the mirror and say “hiya, beautiful!”? Why not allow yourself a treat now and then? Why not take a little break on a busy day and do something just for YOU?

And when you do allow yourself a treat, then inhale it, enjoy it, live deeply with it and smile about it because you know you deserve it.

As for me, I’m going to go get myself a nice cupcake.

Angels in the Clouds

Today I looked up in the sky

And saw two angels winging by—

The clouds had shaped into both of you

I wonder if others had seen you, too.

But I know that in my heart of hearts

That vision is where understanding starts.

I know you watch and are near to me,

Even though I will not get to see

You as you were on Earth when we were together

But I know we are bound by an unseen tether

That keeps us close, but with a light and loving Hand,

And memories of love and joy for years; how grand!

I know those angel-shaped clouds were meant for me

Though I am now one, I was once one of three—

Those who go on before us

Make a loving path in faith and trust for us

I could not tell if those angels were you,

All I know is that what I saw was true.

 

 

Dumbledore’s Pensieve

If you are a Harry Potter nerd like me, you will recognize Professor Dumbledore (Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witches and Wizardry) and his pensieve. The pensieve was a stone bowl into which Dumbledore could empty some of his thoughts as needed. As he said to Harry Potter, “I sometimes find, and I am sure you know the feeling, that I simply have too many thoughts and memories crammed into my mind.”

Easy for him! I often wish that I had my own pensieve in which to empty some of my own thoughts. Some of them bother and nag 24/7, and it’s hard to get them out of my head.

Why is it that our worst fears, worries and doubts will rattle around in our heads, yet the good ones seem to evaporate when we need them the most? At the end of the day we seem to recap all of the bad things we said or did, and don’t give credit to the good things we’ve done.

Then there are the deadly “what ifs:”

  • What if the house burns down because I didn’t unplug the fan?
  • What if one of the cats gets out of the house and we can’t find him/her?
  • What if that light we keep on in the office all night suddenly bursts into flame?
  • What if I don’t notice that I picked up a tick and get Lyme Disease?
  • What if that one mouse the cat caught means that there are many more?
  • What if that nagging pain in my side is some kind of cancer?
  • What if my computer gets hacked and someone steals my idea for a great book?

….and the What Ifs keep marching along. Oh, for a pensieve!

Then I finally remembered this lovely old tune by Irving Berlin:

“When I’m worried and I can’t sleep
I count my blessings instead of sheep
And I fall asleep counting my blessings!

When my bankroll is getting small
I think of when I had none at all
And I fall asleep counting my blessings!

I think about a nursery and I picture curly heads
And one by one I count them as they slumber in their beds
So if you’re worried and you can’t sleep
Count your blessings instead of sheep
And you’ll fall asleep counting your blessings!”

Believe it or not, it helps. Besides, I couldn’t for the life of me find a pensieve on Amazon!

 

 

Could You Use a Few Jokes?

I have always been a fan of Garrison Keillor, and loved his “Prairie Home Companion” shows. Every so often, I share some of his jokes with you. I hope that they make you laugh as much as I did this morning! WARNING: Some of them are real groaners. Enjoy!

“What does your father do for a living?
He is a magician. He cuts people in two.
Do you have any brothers or sisters?
Yes, one half-brother and one half-sister….”

Adam and Eve were naming animals. Adam saw a big creature with a horn on its face and said, “What shall we call this one?”
“Why don’t we call it a rhinoceros”?
“But, why?”
“Because it looks more like a rhinoceros than anything we’ve seen so far.”

Did you know Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz could have gone back home —- she did have a debit card with her? But there were no banks in Oz, that’s why she kept crying out “ATM! ATM!”

Three businessmen on a plane. First guy says, “That suit looks great on you. You must be a Harvard man.” Second guy says, “Yes, thank you. I did go to Harvard. And with that classy briefcase, I would guess that you went to Yale.” First guy says, “Yes, I am a Yale man.” They both look at the third guy, and they say, “You must have gone to University of Oklahoma.” Third guy says, “Why yes, I did. How could you tell?”  “We saw your class ring when you picked your nose.”

It got cold in Minnesota and the nudist camp put out a sign, “We are open but we are clothed”.

There was a midget who joined a nudist colony but he was asked to leave because he kept poking his nose into everybody’s business.

They found a big hole in the wall around the nudist camp. The police are looking into it.

 

Pablo Picasso surprised a burglar at work in his studio. The burglar got away, but Picasso told the police he could do a rough sketch of what he looked like. On the basis of his drawing, the police arrested a mother superior, a washing machine, and the Eiffel tower.

The man and wife walked out of divorce court in Mississippi and the man said, “Stop crying. So we got a divorce—–You’re still my cousin!”

So there was the robber who broke into the public radio station and stole a hundred thousand dollars worth of pledges.

 

Doctor, do you realize you have a suppository behind your ear!
I know, and somebody’s got my pen and I’m not sure I want it back.

I wrote a single entendre but it wasn’t funny at all, so I put two of them together…if you know what I mean.

A little old man shuffled slowly into an ice cream parlor and pulled himself slowly, painfully, up onto a stool. After catching his breath, he ordered a banana split.
The waitress asked, ‘Crushed nuts?’
‘No, arthritis.’

 

What did God say after creating man? — He said, I can do better than this.  —-

Why is divorce so expensive? —–Because it’s worth it.

A man thanked God for giving him a wife and he asked God, “Why did you make her so beautiful?”
The Lord said, “So you could love her, my son.”
The man said, “But why did you make her so stupid?”
“So she could love you, my son.”

Marriage is like a deck of cards.
You start out with two hearts and a diamond; and you end up wishing you had a club & spade!

Do you really believe your husband when he tells you he goes fishing every weekend? Maybe he is having an affair.
I know he’s fishing because he never comes back with any fish…

 

How many gorillas does it take to screw in a light bulb?
Only one, but it takes a lot of light bulbs!

 

A young lady came home from a date, rather sad. She told her mother, “Jeff proposed to me an hour ago.”
“Then why are you so sad?” her mother asked.
“Because he also told me he was an atheist. Mom, he doesn’t even believe there’s a hell.”
Her mother said, “Marry him anyway. Between the two of us, we’ll show him how wrong he is.”

There was a terrible car accident. A woman was lying in the street, covered in blood. Someone in the crowd shouted, “Call a priest!”
The woman opened her eyes and said, “I’m a Unitarian.”
“Then call a math teacher!”

 

A woman hiking in Yellowstone Park was chased by a grizzly bear and she ran to a ranger station where she was arrested by park rangers. It’s illegal to run through the park with a bear behind.

What should you do if you’re attacked by a gang of clowns?
Go for the juggler.

What’s the worst thing about living on O street?
Having to go a block to P.

Cross country skiing is easier if you live in a small country.

What do mountains talk about?
A range of topics.

Why can’t you starve to death in the desert?
Because of all the sand which is there.

Why doesn’t the Gingerbread Man wear shorts? —
Because he has crummy legs.

How do the Amish hunt?
They sneak up on a deer and build a barn around it.

There is a beautiful white bear in the zoo who, some days, is very playful and friendly and other days he just lies in a dark corner and doesn’t move. He’s a bipolar bear.

So this musical chord walks into a bar wanting to get a drink. The bartender looks at the chord and says, “I’m sorry. I cannot serve you. You’re A minor”.

Julius Caesar walks into a bar. “I’ll have a martinus,” he says. The Bartender gives him a puzzled look and asks, “Don’t you mean a ‘martini’?”
“Look. If I wanted a double, I’d have asked for it!”

A man walks into a bar and orders a Manhattan. The drink comes and he sees a piece of parsley floating in the glass.
“What in the world is this?”
The bartender says, “Central Park.”

Two hydrogen atoms walk into a bar.
One says, “I think I’ve lost an electron.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, I’m positive.”

A Chihuahua, a Doberman and a Bulldog are in a bar having a drink when a great-looking female Collie comes up to them and says, “Whoever can say liver and cheese in a sentence can have me.”
So the Doberman says, “I love liver and cheese.” And the Chihuahua says, “Liver alone . . . cheese mine.”

The engineer walked in and found his wife, an English major, in bed with another man. He said, “Why, Susan, I’m surprised.” She said, “No. I am surprised. You are astonished.”

A guy liked to go in to Boston Friday night for fresh scrod and one night his favorite fish restaurant was closed so he hailed a cab. He asked the cabdriver: “Do you know any place where I can get scrod?” The cabbie said: “A lot of guys have asked me that in all kinds of ways, but this is the first time anyone has ever used the pluperfect subjunctive!”

An 82-year-old Boston man went to the doctor to get a physical and came home to his wife and said, The doctor told me I have a hot mama.”
His wife said, “I think he meant heart murmur.”

 

Knock Knock.
Who’s there?
I like Herbie.
I like Herbie who?
I like Herbie Hind.

Knock! Knock!
Who’s there?
Lilac.
Lilac Who?
Lilac a politician, and you just might get elected!

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
I’m a schizophrenic.
I’m a schizophrenic who?
So am I.

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Interrupting pirate.
Interrupting —
AAAARRRR.

Knock knock
Who’s there?
Hank.
Hank who?
You’re welcome.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Smell mop.
Smell mop who?
Ewww. I don’t want to.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Owls go.
Owls go who?
Yes they do.

Knock knock.
Who’s there?
Cows go.
Cows go who?
No, cows go MOO.

Will you remember me in an hour?
Yes.
Will you remember me in a day?
Yes.
Will you remember me in a week?
Yes.
I think you won’t.
Yes, I will.
Knock, knock!
Who’s there?
See? You forgot me already!

In what state was Abraham Lincoln born?
Naked and screaming like the rest of us.

Two women friends had gone for a girl’s night out. They were drunk, walking home, and they needed to pee, so they stopped in the cemetery.
One of them had nothing to wipe with, so she thought she would take off her panties and use them.
The other friend didn’t want to ruin her panties, but she was lucky enough to squat down next to a grave that had a wreath with a ribbon on it.
They went home and the next day one of the women’s husbands called the other and said, “These girls’ nights have got to stop! My wife came home with no panties!!”
“That’s nothing” said the other husband, “Mine came back with a card stuck to her butt that said…..
“From all of us at the Fire Station. We’ll never forget you”

(GIRL): Excuse me, do you sell rabbits here at the pet shop?
OWNER: We do. Would you like a fuzzy white rabbit or a fuzzy black rabbit?
(GIRL): I don’t think my python really cares.

 

How do you find a vegan at a dinner party?
Don’t worry, she will find you.

There’s a new study saying that vegans are more likely to go blind? It’s from reading all of those tiny ingredients lists.

How many vegetarians does it take to eat a hamburger?
One if nobody’s looking.

Have you heard of the garlic diet?
You don’t lose much weight, but from a distance, your friends think you look thinner.

It was two years ago I got married and we got a new dog.
The dog is still happy to see me.

I haven’t spoken to my wife for 18 months: I don’t like to interrupt her.

An archeologist makes the best husband because the older his wife gets, the more interested he is.”