Wednesday, September 22, 2010



Golden-stone villages
Lined with breath-taking wolds
Sheep grazing leisurely along lanes
Driven from the opposite side

Crisp, cool days
Cozy, cuddly nights
Windsor, Buckingham, royalty unseen
Ancient stones that hold tightly-held secrets
To be or not to be

Seeking a hard day’s night
While avoiding the ghost of Jack
Among the gargantuan clock and Parliament
Alone, my lover and me

Thames, canals, brooks
Avon for this lady
Churchill, Dickens, Sherlock Holmes
Guards that change


Monday, September 20, 2010

Peach salsa for grilled fish

I'm not sure I'll ever look for another fish topping. This delicious peach salsa is also to-die-for on poultry and I usually make enough to top off chicken the following night.

Here's the bill of groceries you'll need:

{Raise your hand if the phrase "bill of groceries" is familiar!

If your hand is still down, well then, it's obvious you've never lived in the country.

Today, I ask, "I'm going to run by the grocery store. Does anyone need anything?"

But as a little girl, growing up in Carbon Hill, I'd run next door to the tiny white-frame house that once belonged to my parents.

"Francis (yes, Williams), Mama's gonna do a bill of groceries today. Do you need anything?"}

But, back to our recipe. Measurements aren't used in this recipe, so you can easily determine the flavor by the quantity of each ingredient.

Dice and toss into a medium-size bowl: a peeled peach, cucumber, red bell pepper, and purple onion.

Add chopped cilantro, a squeeze of lime juice, olive oil, and salt.

Stir and refrigerate for at least an hour.

Viola! That all there is to it.



P.S. Let me know if you've ever said "bill of groceries."

Thursday, September 16, 2010

It could just as easily have been dumplings and gefilte fish

Ok. Let's get the question of how my blog got its name out of the way.

It could just as easily have been Dumplings and Gefilte Fish. Or Cornbread and Challah. Or maybe Kraut and Wieners and Chopped Liver. But it was just before a brunch when I almost made the huge gaffe.

But, first, a little background:

I grew up in Carbon Hill, a very, very small town about 60 miles northwest of Birmingham. During my childhood, the population was approximately 4,000; currently it has dropped to 2,500. Many of the businesses that managed to survive over the years will likely have the final nail driven in their coffin by Corridor X.

Telling you that Carbon Hill is a country town is an understatement. To add that I am Southern, and confirm it every time I speak, is an even larger one. (On my first trip to NYC, someone advised me to speak as little as possible. He suggested New Yorkers might have a difficult time understanding me. Ouch!) I grew up on butter beans, cornbread, and turnip greens. Most everyone else in town was just like me; diversity was as scarce as hens' teeth.

Just after I moved to Birmingham in 1973, I met Debbie, my BFF long before BFF dropped into our alphabet-soup world. She and her family were a big part of my life for the next 25 years. By the way, Debbie's husband is Jewish, which you need to know now for later.

About a year after my 23-year marriage ended, Debbie and I were running errands.

"When you think you're better, and you're ready to go out, let me know," she slyly commented, the ever-present twinkle in her eye revved up faster than Road Runner on Saturday morning. "I think I can arrange a date for you with a nice Jewish boy."

I was deeply moved by her offer. Somewhat stunned, I replied, "I know we've been close all these years, but that you would let me go out with your husband is really above and beyond, don't you think?"

Silly me. She was referring to Alan, her brother-in-law. Over the years, I'd attended birthday parties and holiday events where Alan was also present. I didn't really see the two of us gee-hawing, if you know what I mean.

For every ounce of country in me, there are three ounces of city and culture in Alan. No dumplings, no southern accent, no small town background in his history. This is a man who grew up in Mountain Brook and is as polar opposite from me as Liberace is from Jack Bauer.

Thankfully, I was wrong about the gee-hawing. We actually found that we were the same but different, and our dating progressed to the point of me being invited to a Bar Mitzvah brunch at his mother's house. I was higher than a Georgia pine. Happier than a pig in the sunshine. Or is that happier than a pig in the mud? Oh, well, I'm sure you get the picture.

Anyway, just after the invitation, I called Debbie and was blabbering about what I would wear, what to do with my hair, and OMG, should I take something, of course I should, oh my, what do I take, do I bake something, special order something?

Just then, I remembered that I was the proud owner of the famous Hardee biscuit recipe and, if I did say so myself, made a pretty mean biscuit. I'm talking Cat Head here. And gravy? Take your pick: sawmill, red-eye, sausage. I had them all down pat.

"Debbie, Debbie, I know, I know! I've got it. I'll make homemade biscuits. I'll use the Hardee's recipe and even cut them out all nice and neat. They should really impress Alan's mom, don't you think?" I squealed.

"Uh, I don't think so, Beckster," she said. "You might want to re-think that one. This is a Bar Mitzvah brunch, girlfriend. One doesn't take BISCUITS to a Bar Mitzvah brunch. One takes BAGELS to a Bar Mitzvah brunch." She was laughing so hard, I'm sure she was crying.

After that, biscuits and bagels became a joke that made us all smile, especially after Debbie up and died, as Lewis Grizzard used to say. We've used the phrase many times over the years, and I've started, and stalled, a cookbook of my favorite recipes. It's called, you guessed it, "Biscuits and Bagels."

Today, my love of cooking has expanded beyond my beloved southern roots and I look forward to posting some of my favorite recipes here very soon. Of course, I continue to cook butter beans, cornbread and turnip greens. Unfortunately, Alan steadfastly refuses to eat kraut and wieners and chicken and dumplings, so those two have pretty much been put on the back burner, so to speak. I'm happy to report that just recently, he told me (and his mother!) that I've mastered chopped liver.

But I will forever draw the line at cooking gefilte fish. I just cannot tackle a recipe for balls of fish surrounded by congealed fish broth.

That just ain't right. Opps, I mean, that just isn't right.

Monday, September 13, 2010

I think I'll start a blog

For the past few months, I've been giving a lot of thought to creating a blog. I've teetered daily between yes, no, maybe, why, why not.

As my family and friends already know, I've recently become quite addicted to reading The Pioneer Woman's blog. She and I have so much in common: we both love to cook, we love photography, we both have red hair (no comments from the peanut gallery about the red hair), and both married a dreamboat.

So, as I was teetering, I saw PW's recent post, "Ten Important Things I've Learned About Blogging."

The number one thing that she has learned, she writes, is, "Write in your own voice. Write as if you’re talking to your sister. Unless you don’t get along with your sister. Or don’t have a sister."

Today, I'm jumping off the fence. I'm taking her advice to heart. And since I do have a sister, and we do get along very well, here's my posting debut:

     Me to my sister: "I'm thinking about starting a blog."

     Sister: "Huh.What's a blog?"

     Me: "Well, it's a kind of web site, except that a person creates entries about opinions, their daily life, cooking, hobbies. etc."

     Sister: "Why would you want to do that? Don't you already have enough to do?"

     Me: "Yes, but since I'm still in the ranks of the unemployed, I thought it would be a good way for me to practice writing, know, keep my skills up-to-date."

     Sister: "Huh. Do you ever see any of the people you used to work with? What was that woman's name....?"

     Me: "No, I don't see anyone, but I'm friends with a few on FaceBook."

     Sister: "Oh, really! Who?"

     Me: "Never mind that. What do you think?"

     Sister: "About what?"

     Me: "Me starting a blog."

     Sister: "What would you write about? You wouldn't write about me, would you?"

     Me: "Oh, no! Never! I'm just going to leave the theme open and go where it takes me. One day cooking, another day something that's happened to me. And since I'm alone most of the day, it will also be a way for me to talk to someone else....share something I've discovered or learned. I'm hoping that along the way, I'll begin to see a pattern and know where I need to go with it."

     Sister: "Huh. Well, if that's what you want to do, go for it. Just as long as you don't write about me. You really don't see anybody from your old job? Now, what was that woman's name? Seems like she had children..."

So, yes, I'll try to be a blogger, at least for a while. Maybe I won't even publish it. Maybe it'll be just for me.

But if I do publish it, please don't tell my sister.

My sister (l) and me in Quito, Ecuador.