A Way of Loving
Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I spent most of the evening in the kitchen where I usually am on Saturday evenings with my white apron on and my sleeves rolled up, cooking to the music of Prairie Home. I was prepping for Easter dinner this time around, and Mr. S, who was home for the weekend (Amen to that) wandered in more than once looking for a taste of the spinach salad dressing and a key lime bar (just one, he said) and a cup of hot chocolate and a sample of the Nut Goodie ice cream I stumbled across at the grocery store and hid in the freezer but didn’t hide quite well enough.
We both like food. Of course we do. For dinner we had pizza, a homemade one, with shredded chicken and barbecue sauce and caramelized onions and a few dried cranberries scattered over it. He’d asked earlier if I wanted to go out, but I said no. I prefer being home really, most evenings, and he does too, so we sat there together at the table talking about summer and where we might like to visit for a day or a week. “Lanesboro, Minnesota,” he said. “Never been there, and I hear it’s something.” I suggested a visit to the Grand Canyon, and we both agreed a drive to Door County, Wisconsin, ought to go onto the list, kind of a recap of the road trip we took long ago. “Remember the pie?” I said. “And the cheese curds,” he replied.
And then, inevitably, we talked about the worst food we’ve eaten (a particular pizza at a little place somewhere in Northern Wisconsin and some kind of weird pureed squash at a family reunion and the mushroom quiche at a hotel in Atlanta) and the best meals we’ve shared, too. We’ve never really been able to decide on THE best. Mr. S has this thought that each meal we share is the best one we’ve shared because it’s here and now and we’re together. And I agree. Though there’s a German restaurant not far away where we once shared a plate of rouladen and dumplings I’ll not soon forget. And the time we forgot a skillet and dangled perch filets from sticks over a campfire. And the summer when the tornado came and we grilled our food for three days. Pineapple included. And, looking back, Sunday’s Easter Dinner. The ham. My gosh, the ham. And the spinach salad. And the corn casserole.
Truth be told? The best meal I’ve ever had? It was a bowl of soup. I was so sick that whole week in March, and every day Mr. S. brought me a bowl of chicken noodle soup he made himself. It was hot and salty and had extra noodles in it, and tasted better than anything I’d ever eaten. Because he made it for me, and that’s a fine thing. To make food for someone. It’s a way of loving, you know. It just is.
One of the most enjoyable things to do on the planet is to try out a recipe you’ve never made before, something that sounds good and looks good and seems do-able, and then you try it and it works and everyone hollers, “YES! MORE!” and you get this tingly feeling inside and think to yourself, “NOW what should I make?” Well, with all the maple sap running all ‘round, how ‘bout something with maple syrup? Try this frosting for starters, or the cornmeal mush, which I made for the first time this past week. Fry it in bacon grease and serve it with maple syrup, and I guarantee someone will holler and I dare say it might even be you.
½ cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
¼ cup milk
3¼ cups powdered sugar
Melt the butter in a saucepan and add brown sugar.
Boil and stir for at least one minute
Take saucepan off heat and add milk.
With a hand mixer beat in the powdered sugar, one cup at a time until consistency feels right.
Make thinner for angel food cake.
Add a bit o’ maple flavoring if you wish.
1 cup cornmeal
4 cups water
1 tsp salt
Bring 3 cups of water to a boil.
Combine another (fourth) cup of water, 1 cup of corn meal, and 1 tsp salt and slowly pour into boiling water, stirring constantly.*
Cook until thickened, stirring frequently.
Cover, and continue cooking over low heat 5 minutes. Stir.
Serve hot with milk and syrup or with butter, salt, and pepper.**
*Here you can add a little chicken or pork bouillon or broth for a little flavor. It doesn’t take much.
**Here you can put the mush into a loaf pan and refrigerate overnight. Take it out of the loaf pan, slice it into thin slices, fry in oil, and serve up with maple syrup, or salt and pepper.
Goes well with eggs and bacon.