Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Zucchini Pie - You'll Never Believe It's Not Apple!

I promise! My mom had called me last week and told me she tried this new recipe for Zucchini Pie that supposedly tasted just like Apple Pie. My sister vouched for her. I thought, "For real?". But it had my interest piqued.

So, I made it last night for dessert and didn't tell my hubby 'what kind' of pie it was - you know, just to see if it passed the Apple Pie test. With flyin' colors, baby!

This is a great way to use those big zucchinis that you think are too big to do anything else with. Actually, you want the big zucchinis for this.

I forgot to take a before picture of the zucchini, but I'll think you'll get over that minor detail. :0)

The first thing you want to do is peel the skin off, slice it down the center and scoop the seeds out. It'll look something like this.

Then you want to slice it long ways again so that you end up with four long strips.

Next, slice it into thin short strips (you need 4 cups) and boil until crisp tender. Then drain it and run it under cool water to stop the cooking process. See? It even looks like apples.

Next, you want to put the slices in a bowl and toss with 2 tbsp. lemon juice and a dash of salt.

In a separate bowl, mix 1 1/4 c. sugar, 1 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 1/2 tsp. cream of tartar, a dash of nutmeg and 3 tbsp. flour. It should look like this.

Add your zucchini to the dry ingredients and stir to coat. It's OK if it's runny. It'll soak up.

Dump it all into a 9 inch pie crust. Mmmm! Looking good!

After this, you're supposed to dot it with butter. However, I forgot. Oh, the horrors! And, as bad as I hate to admit it - we never even missed the added butter. Lord, I hope Paula Deen doesn't read this! As if.

Moving on then... :0)

Place your top crust on your pie and add slits or purdy cut-outs, or whatever it is you do to allow the pie to vent. Since I'm sorta lazy, I just put a few slits in it and called it a day. I didn't even make sure that they were evenly spaced.

You can brush the top crust with an egg wash or some water and sprinkle it with sugar to make it extra purdy. Then pop it into a pre-heated 400 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until golden brown.

If you're really thinkin', you might want to put the pie on top of a foil covered cookie sheet 'cause there's a good chance that some of that ooey, gooey, liquid goodness is going to want to boil over and turn into cement on the bottom of your oven, if you don't. I'm just sayin'. Not that anything like that has ever happened to me before, or anything. :0)

It'll probably look similar to this when you pull it out of the oven.

Lawd 'a mercy, is it ever good! Hubby even went back for a second helping of his veggies!

See all the crusties on the foil? I told you it might happen!

So, there you have it - another way to use up too big (or excess) zucchini from your garden, or a way to sneak some veggies in your kid's dessert.

And, just as an FYI, with farm stands aplenty this time of year, you can get fresh zucchini super cheap, even if you didn't grow your own. The monster I made this pie out of only cost me $.75 at our Farmer's Market and it was so large that I got 8 cups of sliced zucchini out of it. That's enough for another pie. I froze the extra for another time. I hope it stays good that way.

Give it a try. You'll love it, and so will your family!
Finding ways to use up more veggies works for me, so I'm linking up to Works For Me Wednesday.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Home Is Where The Heart Is

I usually do all of my shopping on Fridays. It IS payday, after all. So, true to fashion, yesterday, Little Britches and I hit the stores. He really hates to shop, but he is such a trooper about it. Anyway - while I was at the grocery store having my order rung up - the lady behind me was loading her items on the conveyor. The cashier noticed that the woman behind her only had 2 or 3 things in hand. She was almost finished with me so, she asked the customer behind me if she minded if she rang up the woman behind her with only a couple of items while she finished loading her things on to the conveyor. Are you following - or have a totally confused you? I'm going to finish my story either way. :0)

When asked if it was OK to ring up the other lady first, the woman behind me said, "NO! (sarcastically). Of course she can go first!" Kind of like, "Du-uh! Who would be so rude to not let her go first."

So, we all had a chuckle and the cashier said, "Can you imagine if people actually said no to requests like that? I'd like to be there to see their face."

To which, the woman with only a few items replied, "It can happen. I just moved here from Maryland and it happened there all the time."

Then I asked her, "Do you find people are friendlier in Indiana?"

"Oh, yeah."

By then I had my stuff ready to go and said the customary, "Y'all have a good day!", and I left the store.

I thought it was an interesting conversation about the nature of the people in this great state. There are always stinkers everywhere. There are also nice people everywhere. But, generally speaking, people in Indiana are warm, helpful, kind, courteous and just plain ol' pleasant. It almost reminds me of living in an old movie - in a time that has slipped on by for much of the country. A time when people were grounded with character, integrity, morals and a good work ethic. Maybe it's because there is so much farming that goes on here, keeping people connected to the earth or some yada, yada like that. I don't really know what it is. I just know I love it!

I remember when we first moved back here from spending 9 years in Florida. We were amazed at how friendly people were. All those years in the Sunshine State had wiped it from our memories. Even the cashier at the drive-through at McDonald's was chipper. In FL, it could be a completely frustrating experience to just try to get some fast food - because 9 times out of 10, the person taking our order was too lazy or put out with working to even enunciate when they spoke to us. We were never sure if they got our order right or not. (Usually, not.) Then you had to deal with the deep sighs and eye rolling. That's always a pleasant experience. Not! Coming home to Indiana was like a breath of fresh air after being trapped in a sewer. No offense, if you live in Florida. Maybe the whole state isn't that way. Or, maybe you just don't know anything different. :0) Or maybe you're one of those eye rolling, deep sighing, non-enunciating cashiers. Oh, dear! I hope not. Or maybe you like it when people are rude to you. Whatever...different strokes for different folks, I guess! It just wasn't my cup of tea. Anyway...

I said all that to say this: If home is where your heart is, then my heart is right here in the heartland. This is a great place to live. But, I'd still take the mountains, too! :0)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

So, We Meet At Last - Part 3 of 3

Richie's mom, Aunt June, used to have me come and clean for her sometimes. One Saturday I had been over there cleaning, or napping, or chit chatting it up with Aunt June, as was sometimes our custom. Yeah, I'd bust my butt over there. Mom and Amanda came over to pick me up. We were sitting there, shooting the breeze with Aunt June, Uncle Richard and Richie when the door bell rang.

It was Richie's friend, Brent. Brent had lived just down the street for their whole lives. He was a pretty common fixture at their house. But, Brent had a friend with him today. A friend I had never met before. None of us had. That didn't change the fact that I knew who he was the second he walked through the door. We all did. I swear, it was like a younger version of my Uncle Terry had just entered the room. So, this was my brother.

He still didn't know who we were, though. He found out real quick like. He didn't know our faces, but he knew our names. All it took was Uncle Richard making this very innocent statement: "Hey, Sharon, tell Ross..." That's my parent's names. Suddenly, Jim turned 30 shades of purple and told Brent that he needed to go. Now. He heard the names and connected the fact that he was sitting in a room with family he had spent his whole life not knowing. It was a little more of a surprise than he could publicly handle. I would guess so.

Over the course of the next few weeks, Dad invited him to come over to our house and meet Mom, Amanda and myself. It was amazing to finally get to meet him. It was like Richie had said, he was one of the nicest guys you'd ever want to meet. What was really amazing to me was all of the things we had in common. There were so many things that I would have assumed would be a common thread due to the fact that you were raised together. But, I found that the family gene pool determines a lot more than I had previously thought.

He quickly became a common fixture at our house. Him and I truly bonded in the months following our meeting.

We were together all the time for a short season. But, life is full of twists and turns. He had made a trip back out to Texas for his best friend's wedding. While he was there, he met some pretty, little red head who caught his eye and captured his heart. When he got back to Michigan, he immediately began making plans to move back to Texas. He had full intention of marrying this feisty little debutante. And, so he did. Round about the same time, I was making plans to move to Ohio and spread my fledgling wings. I've lived in 2 other states since those days, but haven't called Michigan home since I was 19.

Our family, minus Mom, who was obviously taking the picture. :0)

Given our geographical locations and other circumstances that life throws at you, we haven't seen each other since those bonding days shortly after we met some 16 years ago. He now has 3 children of his own and we've never met each other's families. He occasionally visits the family back in Michigan. I was usually in Florida when this happened and couldn't get up there. They fly out to Texas and see him. I'm glad that he's still close with the rest of them. Him and Amanda became very tight through the years. I'm looking forward to the day when we'll be able to connect again and our own families will be able to meet. Until then, there's always e-mail...

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

"Tex" - Part 2 of 3

I found out the serious news my parents felt it was time for me and my sister to know. We have a brother. He is six years older than me. Shortly after he was born, his mom moved them to Texas. He was raised there. And, although me and Amanda were clueless that he walked the planet until that fateful February night, he knew full good and well that me and Amanda existed.

So, why did our parents wait so long to tell us about him? Do you remember the girl that I saw at the mall and invited to the Sweetheart Banquet? Do you remember my mom about spewing Pepsi out her nose? That girl's new beau was my brother, Jim.

Jim had older brothers and sisters who had moved back to Michigan. He had recently moved back himself and was staying with one of them - on my mom's mail route. My parents knew that he was recently back. But, they really knew nothing about him. They didn't want to risk our first encounter being a complete surprise to me at the Sweetheart Banquet.

I don't think that Jim and that girl dated more than a couple of times. And I'm not sure if I ever even saw much of her again after that mall encounter. But, her brief appearance into our lives set the wheels in motion for us to become a family at last. My parents found out somehow that he was working at Cones-N-Cues, the local pool hall, where we sometimes hung out. So, my dad gathered up his courage, and his life-long best friend, and headed up there to introduce himself to my brother.

We told the family about it all. Of course, my aunts and uncles knew about me having a brother, but, it was a shocker to my cousins. Especially Richie. See, Richie hung out at the pool hall quite a bit and was friends with lots of the guys that worked there. When he found out that Jim worked there, he said he probably knew him and wanted to know who he was. I remember Richie literally falling off of the couch onto the floor when he found out. My brother, Jim, was Richie's friend, "Tex". Then it all started coming together for Richie. He started thinking about how "Tex's" mannerisms and expressions were so much like my dad's. He said that "Tex" was one of the nicest guys he had ever met and that there couldn't be a mean bone in his body. "Tex" had been to Richie's house. He was actually the ONLY friend of Richie's that I had never met and had never been to our house. Go figure.

So, Dad had met with Jim a couple of times and started to get to know one another. We started finding out more about our brother. My mom said that he even looked just like my Uncle Terry. I found that to be true soon enough...

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

You Mean, We're NOT Going To Die? - Part 1 of 3

As far as I knew growing up, it was just me and my little sister in our tidy family of four. We have a very close-knit family. And by close knit, I mean, like my mom's whole family would pile up and drive several state's away to accompany us to my dad's family reunion. Most of our family vacations included at least one set of Mom's siblings and their families. As far as the grandchildren went, there were six of us. Richie was first. I followed four years behind him. And the rest were sandwiched in between me and my sister, who was six years younger than me. Me and my cousins were probably raised more like siblings than extended family.

This is a picture of us six grand kids and Richie's fiance, Lisa, around the time of this story. I'm in the top of the tree with a burgundy sweatshirt and big hair. My sister, Amanda, is standing on the ground in a white sweatshirt. And Richie is kneeling with Lisa on his lap. Jimmie is in the tree by me. Boo Boo, or Boo, as we call him and Jamie are in the middle.

Richie and I were super tight growing up, although he was horribly mean to me. My granny used to say, "Pammy would follow Richie to the ends of the earth, and he'd be there waiting to push her off." But, that's a story that will need to wait for another blog post. Regardless of this fact, we shared the same circle of friends, for the most part. I knew most all of his friends, except one.

Hang on. I'm setting the stage, here.

Every year around Valentine's Day our church would put on a Sweetheart Banquet. It was a big deal where you got to get all dolled up with a fancy schmancy dress, or suit/tux if you were a guy, and see just how big you could get your hair. This was the early 90's after all, and big hair was everything. Really. So, anyway... one night me, my mom and my sister were at the mall having dinner at the food court and I ran into a girl that had been coming to church, but that I hadn't seen in a while. In the course of our conversation I mentioned to her that we were going to be having a Sweetheart Banquet and that she should come.

She said, "Oh, yeah. That sounds like fun. And I have a new boyfriend, so, I could bring him."

"Yeah, great. What's his name?"

"Jim. Jim _______."

At this point, unbeknownst to me, my mom about choked and spewed her Pepsi out her nose. Evidently, she said something that had unnerved my mom.

Fast forward a week or so. It's Friday night. February. Snowy. My senior year of high school. I'm getting ready to go out with a couple of my girlfriends from school, Beaner and Yellie. I'm just about ready to leave and my mom gives me this real serious statement, "Why don't you come sit down? I have something I need to tell you." That's always a red flag when you're ready to walk out the door for a fun filled evening with your gal pals. Then she starts in with this whole weighty scenario...

"Years ago, back before your dad and I were together, he had a relationship with a woman." I must inject here, this is where my head started spinning. My palms started sweating. And a whirlwind of thoughts started bombarding my cranium to the point I didn't know whether to puke, pass out, laugh or cry like a baby with a diaper full of dukey. This was 1992. AIDS was fairly new on the scene and being thrown into the forefront of not only the media, but the public school system, as well. So the first thing that went through my head was this: "Oh my God! She had AIDS. Now my dad has AIDS. He gave it to my mom. She probably transmitted it to me and Amanda. Oh, my God! We all have AIDS and are going to die!"

While I'm listening to the foreboding forecast rattling my skull cap, I try earnestly to hear what my mom is saying at the same time. That was quite a chore, considering I felt as if I had a twister raging through my innards. I did manage to hear her say something along the lines that she had gotten pregnant and I had a brother.

Thank God! Whew! It's just a brother! We don't all have AIDS and are going to die! I'll get to live to marry and raise a family! Hallelujah, praise the Lord! I have a brother! Talk about feeling like the weight of the world was lifted from my shoulders! I was feeling some major relief. Heck, I was feeling down-right giddy! So, I went outside and found my dad, who was shoveling snow like a mad man, trying to calm his nerves and let him know I was cool with having a brother and all.

Then all the questions came. I wanted to know details. I was curious why they decided to tell me and my sister now, after all this time.

To be continued...

Thursday, August 13, 2009

I Did Something A Little Unconventional Yesterday...

I gave my 9 year old a Mohawk. I know, I know. You're probably gasping in all of your appallment (I think I just made that word up) right now. You're thinking slanderous thoughts of my mothering abilities and tactics. And you're wondering why they let women like me reproduce, aren't you?

Well, let me just say that I never thought I would be a mother who would give her 18 year old a Mohawk, must less her 9 year old. In the past, I had a lot of preconceived ideas about what I thought I was going to want, or how I thought I would be. And when the day came upon me, I realized that it was just that - a preconceived idea. I guess I've realized with myself that sometimes you just don't know how you'll handle something until it's handed to you.

Here's the Mohawk story and my reasoning behind why I gave it to my boy.

First of all, you must know that I have given my guys their haircuts for a REALLY long time. They would go somewhere and pay to get it cut and then I would have to even it out when they got home, because, inevitably the stylist had missed a few spots. Now, I'm not saying all stylists are this way. But, short of paying $30 for a haircut x 2 guys every two weeks (which just AIN'T happening in this house) that's what we ended up with. So, we started going to the local beauty academy for haircuts. I watched what they did, what they used... went and bought the tools necessary, and voila, became our new at home stylist. I'm not a pro by any means, but they get just as good of a cut from me as anything we paid for. So, on to my story...

Life has been a little busy around and both of my guys were way past due for a haircut and looking pretty shaggy. Tuesday night, Little Britches mentioned getting a Mohawk if his dad was too tired to get his hair cut that night and wanted to wait until yesterday. He was kind of playing around as a sort of threat. He's mentioned a Mohawk before - several times. But, he's also had a sense of fear involved with it. His dad and I could tell that it's something he would really like to do, but, was just plain nervous about it. So, we got into the whole thing about if he wanted to get his hair cut that way, why he was nervous about, who cares what other people think, blah, blah, blah... I realized that he was scared about what other people would think, about what it would look like, if he would hate it...All of those type of issues.

So, here's my reasoning behind giving my boy a Mohawk. It's really about the principle and not the haircut. Personally, I've never been a huge fan of the look, myself. But... I don't want to train him to make decisions based on fear or what other people think. I don't want him to grow up being afraid to take risks. Life is full of risks, after all. And if we avoid taking them, then essentially, we avoid living life to it's fullest. I actually encouraged him to get it cut that way if it was what HE wanted. I told him that it's just a haircut. It's not permanent. The worst that can happen is that he hates it. In two weeks it would be grown out, as fast as his hair grows. No harm done.

My husband and I determined a long, long time ago that we want to raise our son to be able to make good decisions on his own. Of course, we have to guide him. We ask him questions to help him think through the consequences. We help him determine what God has to say about the subject. Ultimately, he's nine and we make the final decision on major matters. But, there are a lot of issues that aren't major matters that we allow him to spread his wings on. We don't want him to be a follower or succumb to peer pressure. We want him to know that everyone is different, and that's a good thing. God likes diversity. You can look at all the shades of green he created or the infinite types of flowers he made and see that. The only thing that really matters is knowing what God said about an issue and how you feel about something. I don't think God really cares whether or not he wears a Mohawk.

So, after thinking about all this and being reassured that if he didn't like his hair, he wouldn't be ruined for the rest of his life, Little Britches made a decision. He was going to take a calculated risk and get a Mohawk. Something amazing happened once he made the decision - he started to get excited about it. Then, once I cut it yesterday morning, something even more amazing happened. He was proud of himself. He was proud that he did something he was nervous about doing. He was proud that he stepped outside of the box and made a decision based on what he thought he would like, rather than what other people would think about it. I was proud of him, too. It was a wonderful boost to his self-confidence.

I don't know how long he'll keep it for. He's nine and has worn the same hair cut his entire life until now. He may keep it for a while. He may go back to his old cut. Heck, he may even want to try some other style next. But I can tell you one thing - he got much more than a Mohawk yesterday. He got a life lesson that he will carry with him for the rest of his life and a good dose of self-esteem. As a mom, those two things were definitely worth the Mohawk.