Wednesday, August 31, 2011

It will last forever

This week, I thought that I would be late posting in my blog. You should know by now that Virginia experienced an earthquake, and Hurricane Irene has battered the east coast that has left 1 million Virginians without electricity. So, my plan was to go to Starbucks, plug in my laptop and write this post. However, at 11:50 p.m. Monday evening; the power returned. Now, last week I had promised to share with you Daddy's macaroni and cheese recipe and my birthday gift ideas for my sister, Belinda. Normally, I call her Mrs. Dyson because when I pronounce her first name it sounds more like "Blenda" or "Blen" instead of "Be-lin-da." Referring to my sister as "Mrs. Dyson" just seems to roll off of my tongue.

There are four gift ideas that I am pondering:

Number 1: A Grave Marker - If you are my Facebook friend, you may know this story, already. When Daddy died last June, the United States Navy provided his grave marker. Mom was so impressed with the grave marker that she had me to purchase a matching one for her (minus the date of death - of course). Last year, on one August afternoon, I traveled to the cemetery office to deliver Daddy's grave marker and to ask, Barbara Daughtry, a life-long friend of my sister and family to order one for Mom.

"Charles C, I'm so sorry for your loss," Barbara said as I entered the office. "You have my condolences. How is your mother doing?"
I replied, "Thank you very much. Mom is doing just fine."
"Make sure you tell her that I asked about her," Barbara continued.
"Okay. Here's is Daddy's grave marker, and Mom wants one just like it for her."

I gave Barbara my mother's full name, date of birth and an inscription to read: "Beloved Wife and Mother."
"What's your Mom's date of death?" Barbara asked as she furiously took notes on a pre-printed form.
"I don't know that, yet?" I replied with amusement.
"You now what? I'm so crazy," she replied with a slight smile.

Suddenly, I thought, perhaps I'll buy Mrs. Dyson a grave marker for her birthday next month. It will last forever. "Beloved Sister" would have been the inscription since I was paying for it. Her husband and daughter can tape a sticky note to it that says, " ...and Beloved Wife and Mother."  Needless to say, my sister wasn't crazy about this idea. This year, I still think it's a great present. Plus, Daddy bought a family cemetery plot years ago for the four of us. Of course, we should have matching grave markers. I will get one in 10 or 15 years from now. And since we will be buried right beside each other; I reminded my sister during a recent visit to the cemetery to do not bother me during our eternal rest.

Number 2: A brand new Verizon Motorola Android - It looks like the cell phone she currently uses is about 5 years old. I'm sure it is the first pre-generation slide phone. In order for her to read her text messages, Mrs. Dyson places her eyeglasses on her pretty, young looking face; draws the cell phone close to her eyes and slightly move her lips as she reads her messages. Actually, it drives me a little crazy. In addition, it looks like it is scratched around the edges - my pet peeve - a scratched up cell phone.

Number 3: A Macy's Department Store Gift Card -  This gift will be real easy to purchase. It's always the right size, color and fit. Macy's ~ Where Dreams Come True! (I wonder if Macy's will pay me for that free advertisement?)

Number 4: A Homemade Peach or Apple Cobbler - Some years ago, Mrs. Dyson taught me how to make peach and apple cobbler. We had even entered our cobblers in a cook-off contest at church. Unfortunately, we tied. I would swim the deepest ocean and climb the highest mountain for my sister. But, I make my cobbler to WIN.  Just so you'll know, after all of these years, Daddy wouldn't even admit as to whose cobbler he preferred.

During his last few days on earth while in the hospital, I asked, "Daddy? Whose cobbler tastes better - mine or Belinda's?"

He took a deep breath, heaved his chest toward the ceiling, released a loud exhale and collapsed. I guess he really did want to take that secret with him to the grave. No, he didn't die right then. I think he wanted to tease me one last time.

So, the present that I decided to give her is Number __!! Actually, Mrs. Dyson is a regular reader of my blog, and I don't want to ruin the surprise. Since her birthday is Sunday, September 4th; I will let you know on Wednesday, September 7th during my next post. Stay tuned.

If you would like the recipe for peach or apple cobbler; send me a real nice comment on how much you enjoy reading my blog and email it to a friend. Look for my other post/recipe entitled, "Macaroni and Cheese" that I promised you. It has already been published.

Speaking of food, I may tell you what my maternal and paternal grandmothers used to make me eat at their kitchen tables or I may post about my interactions with others during the earthquake.

Much love to each of you and keep praising His name!
Sir Charles

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Macaroni and Cheese

As I promised you in my last post, "This is good eating!"; here is the recipe for Daddy's Macaroni and Cheese. His good friend, Mr. Bridgeforth from Blackstone, Virginia, taught him how to make this delicious dish. It's filling enough to be a stand alone meal or you can serve as a side dish. And, it's a huge hit at office functions and other pot-luck events. There's no fuss or thrills with this recipe, and it really is by far the best macaroni and cheese I've ever tasted. I hope you enjoy it and let me know your thoughts.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
1 1/2 cups of cooked and drained Mueller's Macaroni (do not rinse)
1 stick of butter or margarine
6 eggs beaten
1 package of Cracker Barrel Extra Sharp Cheese
Salt
Pepper
1 quart of Whole Vitamin D milk (skim, fat-free, soy, low-fat milk does not work quite as well)
Paprika
Seasoned Salt (optional)

Spray casserole dish with Pam Cooking Spray while macaroni is cooking.
Place one stick of butter or margarine in casserole dish.
Grate 3/4 package of the Cracker Barrel Cheese over the stick of butter or margarine in the casserole dish.
Once macaroni is done - drain - and while hot - pour immediately over the cheese and butter.
Stir hot macaroni, butter and cheese until both are melted with a fork.
Add eggs and continue to stir.
Liberally add salt and pepper.
Add milk until it is almost to the top of the casserole dish (this will keep it from drying out during the cooking process). Stirring gently.
Grate remaining cheese over top of the mixture.
Sprinkle with generously paprika.

Bake at 350 degrees for approximately 1 hour. Top and bottom shelves.

(I usually sprinkle seasoned salt over my macaroni and cheese when I'm ready to eat it. Also, you can simply add some to the above recipe before cooking.)

Enjoy,
Sir Charles

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

"This is good eating!"

Daddy was a stable and constant presence in my life. The provider and the protector of the family. Daddy also enjoyed cooking for the family as well. In my honest opinion, his macaroni and cheese was by far his best accomplishment. Daddy cooked Brunswick's Stew every Labor Day weekend; chicken lo mien on very rare occasions and some stuff he ate in the Navy. It was some brown, lumpy stuff poured over toast. I can't begin to imagine what it was. I don't think my Mom, "Miz Lee" or my sister, Belinda, have ever had the privilege of eating the toast concoction. He used to make me eat it when I was a kid on Saturday mornings. "This is good eating!" Daddy would exclaimed as I stared at the brown, lumpy stuff poured over toast.

Now, I would be remiss if I didn't mention Daddy trying his hand at frying fish. Keep in mind from my last post that Mom loves to clean the house. For some strange reason, she would place cleaning products and some cooking products into a different container. For instance, she would put corn meal into a jar with holes in the lid and Ajax Cleanser into a similar jar.

So, one evening during my junior high school years, Daddy decided to fry fish for dinner in an iron skillet. Mom, interested in cleaning the kitchen later (probably from her husband's soon-to-be catastrophe), reached underneath the kitchen sink, retrieved a jar and placed it on the counter top. Daddy was busy retrieving seasonings on the opposite side of the kitchen; oblivious to Mom reaching underneath the kitchen sink. Later, he noticed the jar and placed it with his other well-thought out seasonings.

Looking like a gourmet chef, Daddy seasoned the fish to perfection. However, I had noticed that something was going terribly wrong.

Examining the jar, I stated, "Daddy, I think that's Ajax Cleanser you're putting on the fish."
"No, it isn't. It's corn meal. Momma just took it out of the refrigerator."
"Ummmm....no, it's Ajax. Mom puts them both in similar jars for some strange reason."
Slightly annoyed, "I said it's corn meal and not cleanser," Daddy countered in his best father's voice.
"Okay," I stated as I returned to my homework in the next room.

Several minutes later, Mom called me into the kitchen to load my plate with fried fish, vegetables and rolls. The fish was a beautiful golden brown. I'm sure it was really clean and fresh, too.

"This is good eating!" Daddy said to me, trying to ease the earlier tension between us.
"I'm sure it is. Can I eat in my bedroom, please?" I asked.
"Yeah. Go ahead," he replied.

After Mom and Dad had said their grace and taken a few bites of the golden brown fish at the kitchen table, I suddenly heard Mom call my name.

"Charles C????!!!!!!!!!"
"Yes?" I answered, returning to the kitchen with my untouched fish.
"Don't eat the fish!"
"I didn't. What's wrong with it?" I asked, knowing the answer.
Trying not to choke on his words, Daddy replied, "I fried the fish in Ajax. I thought it was corn meal. Momma put them both in similar jars. I don't know why she does that."
Mumbling, I said, "See, I told you. You never listen to me."

From that moment on, Daddy frying fish with Ajax Cleanser became an important light-hearted story to tell at all family gatherings and to anyone who would listen. Mom then decided to keep corn meal in its original container and Ajax Cleanser in its original container. Also, I'm not sure if Daddy ever fried fish, again. I think he graduated to preparing his world famous macaroni and cheese. 

And speaking of my sister, Belinda; I may share my birthday present ideas for her in my next post. Her birthday is coming up next week.

If you would like the recipe for Daddy's macaroni and cheese, leave me a comment about how much you love my blog in the comment box below, and I will share the recipe in a separate post. Hopefully, ALL of you will leave a comment. And just for your information, the recipe does not contain Ajax Cleanser or any other household cleaning products. It really is delicious.

Until next week....


(My novel and ebooks can be found on http://www.xlibris.com/ under my author's name: Charles Carroll Lee)

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Comedy Corner: "All That Stuff That You Do..."

Comedy Corner: "All That Stuff That You Do...": "It may not come as a surprise that I love exercising - bike riding, swimming, boot camp and strength conditioning to be exact. I must have i..."

"All That Stuff That You Do..."

It may not come as a surprise that I love exercising - bike riding, swimming, boot camp and strength conditioning to be exact. I must have inherited it from my mother. She is affectionately known as "Miz Lee" at the local YMCA. She is active in the water aerobics class, silver sneakers (whatever that may be), and she does a lot of strength conditioning on the weight machines.  My late father exercised on rare occasions, and my sister is not quite as passionate about exercise as Mom and me. So, with all of her exercise; I'm thinking that "Miz Lee" is fairly strong.


Several weeks ago, I found Mom cleaning her house from top to bottom. She pulled out furniture, removed pictures from the wall, and pushed other household things out of the way while she cleaned every nook and cranny. The house became absolutely spotless.


After she was done cleaning and satisfied, "Miz Lee" looked at me and said, "Push the furniture back. Re-hang the pictures on the wall, and push everything back into its rightful place.
Studying her for a few moments, I countered, "All that stuff that you do at the Y; and you can't put all this stuff back by yourself?"
"We don't do that at the Y," she offered. "We don't move furniture and hang pictures," Mom continued, with a laugh.


Exasperated, I decided to obey my mother just like the good Book says. Weeks later, Mom was in the kitchen trying to open a jar of pickled beets. I believe it's her favorite vegetable.  I noticed her struggling to open the jar for what seemed like a few minutes. She wrapped a wet dish cloth around the lid and even tapped the lid against the kitchen counter. The jar still would not open.


Against my better judgement, I asked, "What are you doing?"
"I'm trying to open this jar of pickled beets to eat with my dinner," she replied.
"All that stuff that you do at the Y and you can't even open a jar?" I asked in amazement. "Give it here. I'll open it," I finally offered.
"You know what? I don't want it, now. I'll just put it back in the cabinet and will try to pry it open on another day," she stated.
Trying to suppress a hearty laugh, I said, "Well, with all of that weight lifting and water aerobics that you do, I was sure you could open a jar. Maybe you need to look at stopping your Y membership - if that's the case. Give me the jar; I can open it for you?"
"No, I'd rather starve, first," she replied, with a laugh.


And speaking of food and cooking that reminds me of Daddy frying fish when I was in junior high school. I'll tell you about that on next week - perhaps.


(My books and ebooks are available on http://www.xlibris.com/. My author's name is Charles Carroll Lee.)






Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Comedy Corner: "Get Up!"

Comedy Corner: "Get Up!": "(Read the blog: 'It's Not in Braille' for a little historical perspective - if you haven't already.) I stood at my usher post dressed in m..."

"Get Up!"

(Read the blog: "It's Not in Braille" for a little historical perspective - if you haven't already.)

I stood at my usher post dressed in my normal uniform handing out bulletins to the early worshippers. They each received a cheery greeting and a warm compliment. Several excited children ran in and out of the sanctuary over and over again. Each child seemed genuinely happy to be within the 214 year old church with its heavy wooden doors, carpet that covers the middle and side aisles, shiny pews and an organ that seemed to belong in a cathedral.

During the next several minutes, more members began to filter into the sanctuary. They each had engaged themselves in hushed conversations. Meanwhile, becoming slightly annoyed at the children running in and out of the sanctuary; I found myself breathing more heavily. Thankfully, my increased breathing was pleasantly interrupted by the arrival of Mrs. Davis, one of our senior church members.

"Good Morning, may I have two bulletins, please?" asked Mrs. Davis.
"Good Morning, young lady. Two bulletins? I repeated.
She replied, "Yes. Two. I need an extra one for a friend of mine."
"Ok. I thought you needed one for each eye," I offered, as I fulfilled her request.

After a good laugh at our conversation, Mrs. Davis and I now have a regular Sunday joke.

Suddenly, one of the running children, Micah, fell face down in front of me with his head missing the heavy wooden door by a matter of a few inches. He is about six years old and much smaller in frame and shorter than the rest of his friends.

In a state of shock, I shouted, "Get up! Get your little romp up! Get over there and sit in that pew, and you  better not move until church is over! I mean it!" (Well, I didn't use the word, "romp;" but, you get the idea.)

Micah sat in the pew and huffed and puffed at me. His brows grew closer together as his eyes became narrow. He reminded me of the Big Bad Wolf from the fairy tale, "The Three Little Pigs." I was shaking from fear in my loafers - not really. I began to wonder if he tripped over my brand new pair of loafers. I'm just not sure. Anyway, Micah sat in that shiny pew for the duration of the service - huffing and puffing. If he could have blown the church down - I'm sure he would have.

Let's fast forward to a few years later - So, Micah decided to give his life to Christ through baptism. He stood next to the pastor near the organ and was formally introduced to the congregation. Micah glared and huffed at me once more. I nodded my head in the affirmative and gave him a slight smile. I hope he understood that I approved of his committment. However, I couldn't help but wonder if the baptism pool would boil over during his immersion or would it explode?

Nevertheless, I knew that I would have to help clean up the disaster after Micah's immersion. It would require moving, pushing, and pulling stuff until everything is dry, clean, neat and in order. Today, I think Micah and I are now pretty good friends. He calls me, "Mr. Charles." Go figure. I can only imagine what he used to call me.

And, speaking of pushing, pulling and moving stuff, that reminds me of Mom and her activities at the YMCA. I'll share that during my next post. (She doesn't want me talking about her on the Internet. So, don't tell her.)

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Comedy Corner: "It's not in braille"

Comedy Corner: "It's not in braille": "Since birth, I have belonged to the same church, and we are getting ready to celebrate 214 years of worship service in July. (And no, I'm no..."

"It's not in braille"

Since birth, I have belonged to the same church, and we are getting ready to celebrate 214 years of worship service in July. (And no, I'm not 214 years old, either.) I serve on the Trustee Ministry as well as the Usher Ministry. I am required to usher every first Sunday of the month.  I must admit that I get a little agitated when church members decide to arrive late for worship service and ask me where should they sit. My normal response is, "I dunno. Service starts at 11 a.m. not 11:30." I am surprised that I haven't been kicked off the Usher Ministry or been reported to the National Church Usher Board Committee - if one exists. A couple of members have even accused me of bumping their heads with the offertory plate. Well, they were sitting at the end of the pew and didn't slightly tilt their head to the opposite side while I retrieved the plate to move to the next pew. It was an honest mistake.

Standing at my post, dressed in my black usher uniform with a white tie and passing out bulletins for the day's worship service to the early arrivals; I greeted each member with, "Good Morning! You look nice today!" or "Praise the Lord! It's good to see you!" Moments later, one of our visually impaired members, Mr. Robinson, entered the sanctuary on the arm of another gentleman. He must've recognized me by my distinctive voice.

Mr. Robinson stated, "G'Morning Brother Lee. May I have a bulletin, please?"
"What for?" I asked. "It's not in braille."
"Well, for all you know, I may ask someone to read it to me," Mr. Robinson replied.
I countered, "Oh. If you take it to Picadilly Cafeteria after worship service you will get ten percent off your meal."

Needless to say, I don't think he has spoken to me in about a couple of years. And, I stand at my usual post and give him my best greeting each Sunday that I'm on usher duty. Oh, well. Do you blame him? Next time, I will tell you about the little boy who fell at my feet while I was ushering.