Daily Archives: March 28, 2010

Popcorn, hummus, cheese, shoofly pie and Scrabble?

Sunday night supper at the Pannabecker homestead always meant popcorn, veggies, fruit, cheese, and once in awhile…lemon cokes or milkshakes. Growing up in the 50s-60s-70s was the era of family-style eating, something that many of today’s family find simply impossible. And yes, that probably ages me. So what?

Anyway, in my family, there were two things that we looked forward to on Sunday nights: having soft drinks (a rarity) and being allowed to eat wherever we wanted. And read while we ate. Oh, that’s three things. When we finally got a tv, I suppose we ended up watching tv and eating. I preferred to read (still do). Nerd.

So when our kids were little, we began following that tradition of popcorn, veggies, cold cuts, cheese, pop, etc. Along the way, we changed the menu from time to time, but essentially, it was usually whatever was in the fridge. These days, Fred often bakes cornbread on Sunday afternoon, and we find an old tv show to watch. Which, actually, we do every night, but don’t tell our daughters. They think we are still the picture of the ’60s, eating at the table every night.

Since daughter number one is home for a few days — it’s Easter break from teaching and studying at Kent State and her teeth demanded a visit with Dr. Jordan, we invited Grandma P. to eat supper with us tonight. Typical of our usual Sunday night fare, there will be popcorn, veggies, hummus (a more recent addition), babybel cheese, flax seed foccacia, Fred’s “No-Fly Zone Shoofly Pie”, and at least one highly competitive round of Scrabble.  This, of course, allows for casual dining, but with a caveat — use lots of napkins. Nothing worse than food stuck to Scrabble tiles.

Oh, one more addition — there will be wine (white, red, and Fred’s favorite — some version of Bailey’s, which is disgusting) — all grown-up versions of pop. Grandma doesn’t get any — she’s driving. Too bad for her.

Just in case anyone wants to try baking today…here are two recipes: Focaccia-style Flax Bread and No Fly-Zone Shoofly Pie. The flax meal bread is especially good for those limiting their carbs. It can be eaten as is, toasted or used for sandwiches.

Foccacia-Style Flax Bread
2 c. flax seed meal
1 tbsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt
1-2 tbsp. sweetening power (I use Stevia to keep the carbs/sugar down)
5 beaten eggs (I used 1 whole egg and 5-8 egg whites, depending on the size of the egg)
1/2 c. water
1/3 c. oil
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare pan (1 10×15 pan with sides works best) with oild parchment paper or a silicone mat
Mix dry ingredients well. Add wet to dry, and combine well. Make sure there aren’t any obvious strings of egg white hanging out in the batter. Let batter set for 2-3 minutes to thicken up some (leave it too long and it gets past the point where it’s easy to spread.)
Pour batter onto pan. Because it’s going to tend to mound in the middle, you’ll get a more even thickness if you spread it away from the center somewhat, in roughly a rectangle and inch or two from the sides of the pan. Make for about 20 minutes, until it springs back when you touch the top or is visibly browning more than flax already is. Cool and cut into whatever size slices you want.

No Fly-Zone Shoofly Pie
(Variation on Mennonite Community Cookbook, p. 380)

1 unbaked pie crust (homemade or purchased)

Bottom part:
3/4 c. dark molasses
3/4 c. boiling water
1/2 tsp. soda

Top part:
1 1/2 c. flour
1/4 c. butter or shortening
1/2 c. brown sugar

Dissolve soda in hot water and add molasses. Combine sugar and flour and rub in the shortening to make crumbs. Pour 1/3 of liquid into unbaked pie crust. Add 1/3 of the crumb mixture. Continue alternating layers of crumbs and liquids — crumbs should be on top.
Bake at 375 F. for 35 minutes.

Optimism trumps pessimism…every time

They say that to be happy and positive, one must surround oneself with happy and positive people. Don’t ask me who “they” are. I only know that I keep reading this — as if the statement was directed toward me. I’m not the most positive person in the world; the optimist in me is frequently overcome by the pessimist.

But I live with an optimist. He can find the brightest spot of the gloomiest situation. Here’s an example. Winter in Ohio can be tough. Dark, cold and often gloomy, especially as we move toward spring and the cold rains seem to overtake our lives. But try taking a walk with my husband on one of these days. Inevitably, his comment will be “Gee, what a nice day”. As my adopted third daughter would say, “Meh”.

So…with this idea of surrounding myself with happy, positive beings, I have this little routine. I sit and think of the funniest, sunniest, brightest bulbs in my life. These are the individuals who can simply make me laugh and/or smile by appearing in my thoughts.

Okay, so there’s my coworker, Coral Naylor. She’s 25, married and due to deliver her first child in a little more than a month. Given the realities of the third trimester, she should be exhausted, dragging herself to work, and cranky all day. But no. Instead, her lilting, “Hi! How are you?” greets me the minute I walk in the door. It’s not a fake greeting; it’s real. One look at me tells her I need a hug, which she gives me, huge belly and all. I can’t help but laugh.

Next in line is my old friend, Lester Lute, a Bluffton University graduate who I haven’t seen in years but with whom I have regular contact through e-mail and Facebook. Lester has faced down a frightening, threatening form of cancer, undergone several surgeries and follow up treatments, yet through it all, his reports have remained upbeat, cheerful and always focusing on the positive side. One of his first photos after surgery was accompanied by “Yes, the dimples are still there.” Anyone who knows Les thinks immediately of those gorgeous, huge dimples — always in evidence because he is rarely not smiling.

Most young children can lift my spirits in a second. My little cousins, Seth and Kate Pannabecker, never fail to make me laugh. We sometimes meet up on the way to school and their usual comment is a happy rendition of “We’re going to school!!!!” Compare this to college students I pass on their way to class, faces down, feet dragging. I’d rather run into the younger generation.

S and K’s little sister, Mia, isn’t old enough for school yet, but she wishes she were. But just one look at her and I laugh. How this tiny blond imp with chubby cheeks does it, I don’t know. But she’s a giggling, smiling elf — even when her sister is spinning her around so fast you’d think she’d upchuck.

Then there are those at the opposite end of the age scale, but filled with similar optimism. My favorite Spanish teacher, Sally Reeder, greets me as she heads out on her daily BFR walk — sound system in hand. She and I know what the grin is about — at the top of her playlist is bullfighting music. 

And Claude Boyer, a retired pastor who is a double for Colonel Sanders…I can always count on him for a joke, the best kind — better known as “groaners”. Always. Every time.

But the best, absolute best mood lifter — always cheerful, always happy to lick my ear…is that four footed sidekick. Ike, the mini Schauzer. There is nothing more cheering that coming home to that happy face peering out the window, tail wagging. And then he’s all over me. Never fails.