2012 In Review

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 5,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 10 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

There’s a Blizzard on the Horizon

kindling 2

We keep a kindling pile in the backyard so that we can quickly fill a wheelbarrow whenever a snow storm is predicted.

When a blizzard warning came across the forecast, it immediately had my attention.

Living in West Kentucky, we don’t get a lot of extreme winter weather. But when it happens, folks around here are generally prepared. After the Ice Storm of 2009, every household became well-stocked with survival gear and a generator. We didn’t need a television show to demonstrate how to prepare for an impending doomsday. We lived it, and we learned from it.

The Ice Storm literally changed the way people prepare for bad weather. We were lucky in the fact that we were without power for only four days. The most inconvenience we incurred was that Murray was also without water as a main line broke during the storm. No power is one thing. No power and no water to flush with takes it to a whole other level. Many co-workers were out much longer, and my mother, my siblings, and their families were huddled together without power for 17 days. That’s a lot of games of Uno.

A couple of days ago, we started hearing about the potential for snow on Christmas Day. Then that potential became an impending snow storm. Yesterday, while shopping for a few last minute presents, I noticed the long lines at Wal-Mart and Kroger pharmacies. A few people left the stores with extra milk and bread. Then today, when the National Weather Service in Paducah, Kentucky, issued its first blizzard warning ever, the only open gas station in town had lines at every pump. My Beloved decided to buy four dozen eggs — just in case.

The refrigerator is already overflowing from holiday meals.The freezer is full so we have plenty of food. It’s only supposed to snow about eight inches in Murray, but that didn’t stop us from going through the checklist to make sure Chez Medlock had battened down all the hatches:

  • Cars and oil lamps filled with fuel
  • Two wheelbarrows filled with kindling and extra wood then wheeled into the sunroom
  • All electronics set on their chargers
  • Patio furniture stored away
  • Laundry done
  • Cats corralled
  • Candles collected
  • Batteries purchased
  • Matches found
  • Flashlights tested
  • Water bottles filled
  • Tub filled with water (for flushing!)
  • Double batch of veggie soup prepared
  • Craft projects and games prepared to keep everyone entertained
  • Prearranged call times established with out-of-town family to conserve cell batteries

We’re ready.

I had planned to spend this day in my pajamas on the couch watching old movies with my family. But it didn’t work out that way. Getting ready for a blizzard has taken priority. Maybe, if we’re lucky, we won’t lose power as the snow stacks up and the wind goes wild. Let’s just hope the Weather Channel’s Jim Cantore doesn’t show up. Because if he does, we’re doomed.

Easy Crockpot Veggie Soup

3 bags of organic, frozen mixed veggies
1 qt canned tomatoes
1 qt beef broth
6 sausage patties
1c frozen zucchini
3T oregano
2T onion power
2 cloves of garlic
salt
pepper

Place all frozen mixed vegetables in the crockpot. If you have any partial bags of frozen veggies in your freezer, add them. The more the merrier! Pour canned tomatoes and beef broth over veggies and add seasonings. Cut up sausage and then stir all together. Cook in crockpot on high for 6-7 hours.

Moo’s Famous Cornbread Dressing

Moos Dressing 2

The three siblings try a final taste test.

The best recipes aren’t necessarily the ones that are written down. Instead they are a part of who you are–you just know when it’s right.

My mother, lovingly called Moo by her grandchildren, made the best cornbread dressing. But there wasn’t a recipe. For us, her children, it was never an issue because she trained our taste buds to know exactly when there was enough sage or salt or butter. I believe that the flavor of her dressing is a part of our DNA. As we married, the fact that there wasn’t a recipe to her famous cornbread dressing drove our spouses (who all love to cook) crazy, especially my sister-in-law Diann. She became a fan of mother’s cornbread dressing the year that she and my brother married. She couldn’t wait to make it for her family, but there wasn’t a recipe.

Over the years, when we all gathered together to making the dressing, there have been curious looks, shaking heads, and much questioning about why there wasn’t a recipe. Bless her heart, Mother tried to write it down. But she never landed on that perfect taste the same way twice. Too much depended on the freshness of the ingredients and the age of the dried sage.  The years that she attempted to measured out the ingredients were the years that it didn’t taste right.

“This isn’t a science experiment,” she said. “You can’t measure out perfection.”

One year, determined to get the recipe recorded, Diann watched us and kept track of how much we added of each ingredient. But after the fourth time of adding another handful of sage or a dash more pepper, she finally gave up and declared us impossible.

Mother loved the ritual of making her dressing. We cherished the nights before any holiday when we’d all finally be back home on Brown Road. After unpacking cars and giving out hugs, we would put on our PJs and gather in her kitchen. She would have already filled the large container that she only used for dressing with fresh crumbled cornbread. Then we’d start adding the chicken broth, eggs, melted butter, celery, sage, salt, and pepper. Somebody would stir and somebody else would keep adding salt. Then the taste testing would begin. Without fail, it always needed more of this or that. Holding our breaths as we dipped our spoons into the mixture, we’d slowly anticipate that first taste.

“Needs more salt.”

“Needs more butter.”

“No. It needs more sage. It’s not green enough yet.”

More ingredients would be added until the moment when our taste buds would start buzzing, announcing that the dressing was done. With relief, we’d head off to bed knowing that, once baked, the dressing would be perfect and all was right with the world

This year, on the Wednesday night before Thanksgiving, we gathered in my sister’s kitchen. Like our mother, Rita had the large container filled with warm crumbled cornbread waiting for us. It’s always around that container that we reconnect as a family. We joke, we laugh, and we always tell the same stories. Even the kids know the stories and laugh along to tales about Moo’s dressing that happened years before they were born. We were having so much fun making dressing this year that we ended up with a double batch, meaning that we had enough for Thanksgiving and for Christmas dinner, which was at our house.

For the first time since we’ve been married, my family came to Murray for Christmas. My favorite gift came from my brother, his wife, and their sons. Diann had made us each a beautiful apron. My sister and her husband’s aprons were Christmas themed, which was perfect for them as they collect Santa Clauses and often have a dozen decorated trees in their home. My Beloved and I received Chez Medlock aprons which are absolutely beautiful. Tucked into the box along with new oven mitts and kitchen tools was a recipe. Exactly as it should be. As Vince read it aloud, we laughed, and yes, I wiped away a tear–for the woman who taught me the joy of cooking and that the best recipes can’t be measured when the most important ingredient is love.

Moo's Famous Dressing

From our family to yours, Merry Christmas

Moo’s Famous Cornbread Dressing

Ingredients
Bisquick
Cornmeal
Chicken Broth (Only buy chicken on sale, pull from bones, boil the bone.)
Sage (Brown Road grown only!)
Eggs (Six or seven if fresh, a dozen if from the store)
Onion (1 if Rita makes it, 3 if others make it)
Celery (diced except for when Mary Anne juices it)
Carrots (if Mary Anne can hide them)
Salt and Pepper to taste, and taste, and taste.
Butter (Start with 1 stick and keep adding until other ingredients float)

After cornmeal and bisquick mixture is oven-browned, rip the bread into small pieces in a large bowl. (Have larger bowl ready as the mixture grows and grows). Once all ingredients are floating (don’t worry, it will absorb through the night) taste concoction with large spoons. Only double-dip if other guests are not planned. As more bread is added, transfer to your largest bowl because it will grow overnight. When 2 of 3 siblings agree “Yep, that’s it,” pour into as many pans as possible for baking. As the dressing is baking, wild tales must be repeated from previous years about the grandmother arguments over who made the best or about when Moo dumped the pan on the floor while we were living in Beaver Dam, and she scraped it up and served it anyway…daring us to say a word about it.