"I have a question I've been meaning to ask you," a woman informed me one Sunday morning in church. I took a sip of coffee and leaned closer to see if I had an answer. I figured her question might be about food because I know she reads my column. "I have had some pumpkin bread in my freezer for about a year and I'm wondering if it is safe to eat," she continued. "Yes, it will be safe," I responded. "The quality will depend on how well it was wrapped, though. "How was it packaged?" I asked.
"We don't need any more canned green beans," my husband announced from the kitchen. I was sitting on the couch in the living room writing a grocery list for a holiday meal. I was wondering what had inspired his comment, so I walked into the kitchen. He had lined up 10 cans of green beans on the counter to make his point. You can guess who doesn't like canned green beans in our house. "We don't need any french-fried onions, either," he added.
We have entered the season associated with leftovers from large holiday meals. Who likes leftovers, anyway? Some people love leftovers, and some people do not. I eat food from the previous evening's meal almost every day. I often eat lunch with someone who does not like leftovers. I'm fairly sure I could use the term "detests" when leftovers are involved. My usual lunch of leftovers probably nauseates this person. We all have different relationships with foods, and leftovers may conjure up some memories.
On a recent flight, I was pleasantly surprised by the built-in video screens with free movies in the seat backs. I settled in and decided on entertainment for my 2 1/2-hour flight. I tuned into an animated movie, "The Incredibles 2," which tells the story of a superhero family. The super mom (Elastigirl) has the ability to stretch her body into everything from an air balloon to a slingshot. She had a tricked-out rocket motorcycle.
When I was growing up, we usually had two types of vegetables served for our evening meal. We usually had potatoes boiled or baked in their skins and a brightly colored side vegetable. In the winter, our favorite was squash grown in our garden. It was mashed and served with a bit of butter, salt and pepper. I enjoyed the color, texture and natural sweetness of squash. At the time, I had no idea that it was really "good for me."
Last year, I was very disappointed because our apple tree had no apples. Our tree had never been completely fruitless. I kept staring up at the tree, walking around it and looking for even one apple. I couldn't find an apple on the tree, even at the very top. At first, I thought the squirrels had taken the apples, but usually they drop some on the ground or kick them out of the tree at our dogs. This year, our mighty tree made up for last year's apple shortage. We have tubs of apples and we are thinking of the many ways we can use them.
Have you ever been to a food festival? Every state has at least one food festival, and they often showcase the foods grown or caught in the region. Sometimes festivals also highlight the ethnic heritage of people in the area. Supporting your community and everything that makes it unique is a memorable way to connect.
"Mom, I made lentil soup and it's pretty good," read the text message from my son. I smiled as I read the message from my formerly finicky 23-year-old son. "I made a ton by accident, though," he added. I chuckled as I visualized my tall son stirring a giant pot of soup with a huge spoon. Then I remembered he doesn't own an enormous soup kettle. "Freeze it," I texted back. "I saved out enough for a few days and froze the rest," he texted.
I can't handle hot weather. While some people are basking in the heat of summer days, my face turns bright red almost immediately. My kids pretend they don't know me. Then I wilt in the shade and retreat indoors. Recently, we had a heat wave in North Dakota that sent temperatures soaring near or above 100 F in some areas of the state. I happened to be on the road doing workshops, which involved loading and unloading hundreds of pounds of materials from my vehicle.
"The beans are cold!" my husband exclaimed. We were at a picnic with pork and beans as a side dish. I looked at him a little oddly. "Yes, they're cold," I said. "Haven't you ever had cold pork and beans?" He looked at me as though I had handed him a cup of dishwater to drink. We enjoy beans in lots of different recipes regularly. "Beans are supposed to be served hot," he remarked a little indignantly. "I can tell you didn't grow up here," I said. "We had cold pork and beans sometimes when I was a little kid.