Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Beginner's Guide to Joyful Living -- Day 4

 July 4, 2017

When I was a girl, my family celebrated Independence Day at Center Hill Lake. Daddy launched his boat, and we caught crappie, bass, and the occasional blue gill. At home, Mother fried the fish in a deep iron skillet. Daddy was an ex-Marine, and our family, like many others, gathered at the table to give thanks for our freedom. We proudly displayed the flag, but at our house, you wouldn't find patriotic-themed food and decor. Color-coordination was meant for outfits, not tablescapes.
A typical July 4th meal at our house would include a fish fry (or grilled burgers), along with baked beans, slaw, potato salad, deviled eggs, a blueberry pie, homemade ice cream, and plenty of sweet tea. Each recipe was made from scratch, but Mother made it look easy.


Modern cooks are hectic cooks. Recipes have become super specialized: vegan, low carb, heart healthy, high fiber, no-dairy and gluten free. You'll also find designer elements: eggs aren't merely deviled but stuffed with salmon, guacamole, or sauerkraut. Novel ingredients have become the new normal as home chefs search for the weird and wonderful, hoping to"freshen" the old standards.
In recent years, Brands have capitalized on holidays. Celebrations and "national days" sprang up. A quick glance at social media tells us that everything and everyone gets a day, from pancakes to pina coladas to parakeets (just kidding).
Me, I always enjoyed red-white-and-blue holidays, but I cooked in real time, as opposed to blog time. When I got around to posting, July 4th had come and gone. The world had moved on to National Strawberry Sundae Day. I learned to prepare a recipe or tablescape in advance; but once again, the timing was off--the food and holiday were out of synch. My family didn't mind eating a flag-themed cake before Independence Day, nor did they urge me to hurry up and snap a picture so we could dig in. Still, I remembered holidays in my grandmother's kitchen, all of us waiting for a blueberry pie to cool before we cut a slice. 
Waiting. Longing. Imagining.
To me, that is part of a pie's journey.
And part of our journey. 


The older I get, the more I prefer old ways.
It's not living in the past but living in the moment--an imperfect, irreplaceable, mismatched moment. Today I will boil shrimp, red potatoes, and corn. I will spread newspaper onto the porch table and set out paper plates. Just as long as I'm breaking cornbread with the people I love, I am blessed. And thankful.





25 comments:

  1. Michael Lee,
    I'm really enjoying this series. Hope you have a joyful 4th !

    When I was growing up we lived in the inner city. A place that didn't know from BBQ'a or special dinners for the 4th . I only remember celebrating by taking a bus into town and waiting for the town parade to start. We excitedly waved flags, partook in the popcorn, hotdogs, and soda being sold on the street, and cheered as the soldiers, veterans, and local politicians strutted by. Not until the very last brigade disappeared did we disperse and return home to sit on the stoop with neighbors and share pitchers of homemade lemonade.
    There was no red, white , and blue special food for the occasion We had no special theme for dinner. We just had dinner. That was our 4th of July in the early 1960s.

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    1. A magical memory. We were lucky to have known the early 60s (and earlier)! Have a splendid 4th!

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  2. Happy Fourth! I like the "old" ways too. Simple food, simple tables and company without cell phones

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  3. lovely memories Michael Lee, I am going rogue today and baking a chocolate cake, what's more USA than that! Enjoy your shrimp boil, we've already got a huge pork butt on the grill at 7 am! Happy 4th!

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    1. Chocolate cake is a classic! I bought a frozen key lime pie, and we got into it last night. :-0 It was delicious, piled high with whipped cream. Bandy was up at 8 to smoke a Boston butt, too. Even with shrimp, he said the 4th wouldn't be the 4th without smoked pork. Have a great day, Jenna!

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  4. I am loving this series. There is some divine intervention going on here, I was directed to this blog for a reason. I think somehow through the internet, we suddenly get caught up in special food and table settings and trying to 'fit it' yet it is a place we were never meant to be. Today, will be boating, beach and bbq with the family at the park. Just a wonderful paper plate day.

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    1. I'm so glad you were directed here, Nonie. I just hope I make these posts worthy! Love your paper plate day!

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  5. I think I'm going to copy the mouth watering menu you grew up with. Not for today, mind you - we have a block party here. But maybe this Sunday after church....sounds like a perfect Sunday afternoon.

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    1. That would be a perfect Sunday supper, Yolie!

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  6. I LOVE the cornbread quote!!! So perfect because when my 3 little boys were growing up, I literally made cornbread EVERY SINGLE NIGHT. They didn't know a meal without that pone falling out of my cast iron skillet. (I have a cast iron skillet that is ONLY used for cornbread. Wedding present 40 yrs ago and everyone knows not to use it except for cornbread. That pone falls out every single time!!) my boys already arguing who will get it when I shuffle off 😜!
    Our day to celebrate 4th was over the weekend cuz they had to get back to work yesterday but we also had smoked butt that cooked for a smooth 6 hrs along with fresh corn on the cob...family tradition. Of course I had to have my premeditated hot dogs and boudin....I love me up some hot dawg!!!!
    Thank you for these thoughtful posts. They are making my days happy knowing that others are feeling as I do about technology and our glory days!!!! Mwah 💋

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    1. I've got a cornbread-dedicated iron skillet, too, and woe to the man who uses it for another purpose. LOL

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  7. ps....plz look at my blog post today...the simplicity of two lil boys(my grandsons one in underwear, other in nightshirt) showing us what our grand ol flag means!! God love ❤️ em!!

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  8. How beautiful! Thanks for sharing your memories and thoughts. It was really enjoyable.

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  9. I think our generation was fortunate to grow up in simpler times. My childhood was in a small town, so all holidays were basic and carefree. Fresh veggies were the norm, straight from my uncle's farm or my mother's garden. Mother always set a beautiful table, but it wasn't considered a tablescape. No photos were recording every detail. Ha! I have to laugh at just the thought. ;-)
    That said, I did set a special table for the chef and I tonight, but it was much too hot to dine alfresco. I had to transport it in to the AC. Simple dinner here, baked salmon and fresh veggies from a friend's farm. Happy 4th!

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  10. I love your memories, Sarah. Sometimes I think we put so much pressure on ourselves --
    love have a photographic record of parties, but things do tend to melt while I'm snapping away. On the menu, we added a smoked Boston Butt, and i made vanilla ice cream (no cook!) to go with pie (storebought apple and key lime). Things got very buggy on the porch. I'm "eat up," as we used to say.

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  11. I had a quesadilla for dinner LOL! Annie is down in Phoenix with friends, John is in Tucson with his boys., my bestie is on call, and they canceled fireworks here, because of the fires around us. It's one of the weirdest fourth of July's I've ever had. BUT, I can't complain, because I got what I wanted. Last year I prayed for quiet, because I was miserable and I got it. I defrosted my fridge instead of having a party LOL!

    Anyway, I know what you mean... my family used to have a BBQ and shot off some fireworks in the front yard and that was it. No decorating, no special effects... just family and friends enjoying life. I miss those days.

    I hope you had a lovely fourth, Michael. I think this is a fantastic series.

    Love you,
    rue

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  12. I'm enjoying this series. I also enjoyed a much simpler life growing up in the 60's and I often reflect on it. There were no elaborate tables set at family gatherings and the food served was a combination of dishes brought to share and one of the uncles would be in charge of the BBQ. We had a jumble of tables put together outdoors and everyone just enjoyed being together and socializing. We kids would prance around in the evening with sparklers and thought that was pretty good stuff! When I first started to blog and found this new world of tablescapes, decorating and recipe sharing and I wasn't sure what to make of it. Eventually I joined in but I like you wanted to do things in real time. One thing is for sure I wouldnt have come across you and your blog had I not started blogging so I'm grateful for that!

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  13. Have so enjoyed every comment. Each one describes whether intentional or not,contentment in basic or simpler things. The love of family and spending every possible moment together before everyone goes home and back to eaches routine. We all appreciated each other even with Aunt So n so's constant complaining and Uncle Such n such's always saying he did it this way and his way was best. We overlooked that and accepted that it was just the way they were and loved them just the same. Yes I too miss those days but who's to say we can't start a tradition all our own. One that borrows the love, the patience, the values, and simplicity our parents and grandparents loved.
    I truly love this series. Thank you so much for your insight.

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  14. I love the thought "Waiting. Longing. Imagining. Yo me, that is part of a pie's journey." Kinder, simpler and more delicious times indeed.

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