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Posts Tagged ‘snow’

Everyone wishes for a white Christmas; well my family does. We got more than we asked for. The snow fell, and fell, and fell; for days it snowed and snowed. My family started to call and ask if we should post pone Christmas. What? I thought it was ridiculous. Then, Christmas Eve service at church was canceled. The one year I got my mom to agree to go with me, they cancel it. Figures. Despite the snow, Christmas day my family made it to my paternal grandmother’s for our traditional George Christmas.

I’m a nervous passenger as it is, so the ride there was pretty nerve wracking for me. I just had to keep telling myself to breathe and put all my trust in the Lord that he would get us there safely; and He did.

That weekend, as it kept snowing, I wanted to take my mom to her mom’s for our Christmas together and I wasn’t going to let a little snow cause us to miss it. My husband and I loaded the gifts in the car, picked up my mom, and set out on the 45 minute drive there. The roads were terrible, causing my little car to fish tail every once in a while as it hit a slick patch. My mom bit her nails the whole way, while I prayed and took deep breaths. My step-daughter sat quietly and looked at books as if this were a normal trip to Grandma’s house. Every once in awhile I would scream, my husband would yell at me for scaring him, and my mom would chime in defending both of us. I don’t know how she managed that but it always worked. She would make us both feel like we were right and that it was okay for our feelings. We did make it there safely and were greeted by a shocked grandma snowed in for the winter in a nice cozy home full of warm Christmas cheer.

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I did it again. I went too fast while reading a recipe and left out a very important ingredient: baking powder. Anyone that bakes knows that cornbread without baking powder won’t rise.
It’s Friday. I’m exhausted; running on four hours of sleep and a dr. pepper. My husband asks, “What’s for dinner?”

Chili…baked…with cornbread.

Chili is my comfort food. Probably because chili was the only thing my mom knew how to cook that didn’t involve boiling water or a microwave. I always gulped it down, loaded with crackers. I would stick my spoon right in the steamy middle and shove the concrete cracker chili against the side of my bowl, until I found the bottom of my bowl. Then I would slowly eat at the cool edge of the chili while the center cooled down. I had it down to an art.

My most memorable bowl of chili occurred during an ice storm in 2001. In the Midwest, we are accustomed to ice storms, but this one caught us off guard. It was early on in the year, and school was canceled due to inclement weather. No school for me; mom called in to work.

As we watched Oprah and colored mom’s hair, the power went out. This would be around 4 o’clock in the afternoon. Mom had just gotten in the shower to wash out the dye. I heard her scream and I ran in the bathroom laughing realizing mom was in pitch dark, blackness with a shower beating down on her. I would have screamed too.

Mom did her best to rinse out the dye while I ran to the fridge to see what I could salvage from spoiling. It was freezing temperatures outside. My plan was to put important food items that we just could not live without on the porch to stay cold.

There it was on the top shelf, front and center: chili.

My mom’s chili is very simple, but being the picky eater that I was growing up, it was the only thing my parents could get me to eat without a fuss. My parents divorced when I was 3 and I lived with my dad until I was 15. He even cooked my mom’s chili knowing it was one of the few things I would eat. I thought of my mom the whole time I ate her chili.  It included ground beef, kidney beans, tomato sauce, tomato paste, and chili seasoning. Oh and don’t forget the saltine crackers and lots of them; simple, yet perfectly delicious.

I immediately grabbed the shining silver pot, our biggest one we had in the kitchen, and buried it in snow and little ice pellets on the porch. I was not going to let that pot of chili spoil in the refrigerator.

The power was still out late in the evening. Mom and I piled every blanket we had in the house along with both of our cats onto the couch and we snuggled in candlelight. We lived in a basement apartment in a large apartment complex. The walls were brick and the living room housed a sliding glass door that led to our concrete walled in porch below ground. We had the coldest apartment on the complex.

There is something really daunting about sitting in the dark with no power; especially when the whole city is experiencing the black out. Windows of our complex glowed of deep orange and yellow from cold families like us huddled around candle light. The trees were heavily loaded with ice that had been falling for nearly 12 hours. The branches became too weak and started crashing down all around us. Every few minutes we heard loud crackling from the branches falling causing transformers to explode. Limbs falling and transformers and other things exploding, that’s what we listened to all night long. It was frightening.

The next day, a friend of my mom’s knocked on the door; he came to rescue us! I bundled up and grabbed my pot of chili. I wasn’t leaving without it.

My mom chuckles, “What’s that?” looking at the pot in my arms.

“Your chili! I don’t know about you, but I’m starving!” My mom was stunned and a little impressed with my impeccable survival skills.

My mom’s friend, his girlfriend, and her two daughters still had working gas at their house. I knew we could heat up the chili in no time! The ride over was dangerous and several times I wished we were back in our cold basement apartment. Tree limbs were down all over the ice covered roads. Road crews were out trying to remove tree limbs so the ice trucks could get by and plow and de-ice the streets. It took hours to get to a destination 20 minutes away.

That evening we huddled in the kitchen, cracked the windows, turned on the gas stove and warmed ourselves by the pot of chili. We ate and ate until the pot was licked clean. It was the best pot of chili I had ever had in my life, and now it’s the most memorable.

My chili tonight, baked with cornbread, turned out alright, despite the lack of baking powder. Although they didn’t rise, the cornbread turned out to taste the same, just denser. My husband asked that I skip the baking powder every time; tasted better.

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