The Most Wonderful Part…Mom

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Thanksgiving and Christmas have passed us now, and it’s time for a New Year already. Can you believe it? I’m not sure about you, but my last year literally flew by. There are things I could have handled differently in that year, and there are things I would do over and over again if given the chance. That’s what life is truly about. It’s about living, learning, and appreciating the gifts we are given on a daily basis.

When the New Year rolls around, I don’t normally make resolutions. I find that I’m quite rebellious when I least expect it and those resolutions quickly exit my life. Instead, I take stock of my life and all the wonderful parts of it. There’s always one part that comes to mind first though. It’s my Mom’s birthday, and she is the most wonderful part of each and every year of my life. Therefore, when I take stock, she’s first on my list.

I feel that I must share a little bit about our Mother/Daughter relationship.

Throughout all of my years (now 30 of those years), my Mom has been there for me unconditionally. Black Eyed PeasThe following are just a few examples. When our cool Southern nights would roll around, Vick’s Vapor Rub was present. I used to love Mom’s tender touch when I was sick rubbing the Vick’s on my upper chest to soothe my congestion. Sometimes on a sick day home from school, we would have cheesy mashed potatoes with chopped up ham and sliced cheese in them. It was a mild dish that I could enjoy. Mashed potatoes are very special to me because of this. There was always sight-seeing in different states when we would travel to make sure I learned about different cultures and history. We were and still are best buds. I can talk to her about absolutely anything.

She allowed me to make the mistakes I needed to in order to grow, and she was always there to pick my broken heart up off the floor and apply some “Mom Glue”. Many times she told me I could do better. Many times she told me you can’t quit a job until you have one. Many times she told me to simply and purely follow my dreams. Many times she told me to always trust in the strength that is God. Many times – many, many times – she has told me she loves me.

For a time, it was just me and Mom. And, you know what? We made it – we would go out to Arby’s and split a meal to save some money, we would have our own little celebrations at home, and we survived, as many single parents and children do.

There are countless magical memories of my Mom I could share…but, alas, there aren’t enough pages for this.

Meal Photo 4See, my Mom is a good Southern woman. Luckily for her, on her birthday, some of her favorite Southern foods make up our traditional New Year’s Day meal. We gather at my Grandmother’s home and enjoy a birthday meal for her. It always consists of turnip greens, cornbread, and the all-important black-eyed peas. I remember growing up and always being told to eat plenty of it all so I could have good luck and prosperity in the year ahead. Sadly, I grew a strong disdain for turnip greens over the year – which probably explains a lot. I make up for it though, with eating lots of black-eyed peas and cornbread! Both of these are two of my favorite Southern foods as well.

While the New Year’s Day meal is strictly Turnip Greenstraditional fare for most households, it’s a special meal for my family. I encourage you to look into all of the different versions of a “traditional” New Year’s Day meal and all of the various meanings. The one story I found the most, and enjoyed the idea of the most, was this…

“Back in the days of civil war, Union troops swept through the south, confiscating crops and livestock to use as provisions for their troops. Southerners who weren’t off fighting were left with precious little, save for peas and greens. You see, Union soldiers considered “field peas” and greens to be fit only for animal fodder. These dishes became cherished and appreciated as what saved many a family from starvation during those times and the tradition of celebrating these dishes on the New Year was born.” – Christy Jordan, www.SouthernPlate.com

Mom’s “Birthday Dinner” is deeply rooted in the Southern traditions and love – just like my Mom. My Mom loves the South. I love the South, and I love my Mom.

As I think about how to close this article for you, I can’t help but think of how many people are without a Mom like the Mom I was blessed with. Hold your Mom’s and Mother figures close. Never forget to appreciate them or tell them you love them in the year ahead and all the years to come. My Mom is magnificent. She is my inspiration. She is my shining and constant reminder of God’s love, and she is the most wonderful part of my life. Happy New Year, everyone!

~Originally published in January 2013 issue of Alamance County Magazine.

Sundays with Friends: My friend Jen and her Peanut Butter Balls…

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022Do you remember my good friend, Jen? She last wrote for us about Wild Turkey Stew, and this time she’s bringing us a very near and dear to her heart recipe for her Mama’s Peanut Butter Balls. I meant to get this to you before Christmas, but we all know how busy the Holidays can become. However, you have to forgive me….I AM bringing you one of the most delightful recipes I have EVER put in my mouth. From my friend that understands the importance of loving her mother and hanging onto handwritten recipes, all the way to your kitchen, please welcome back Jen!

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I love Christmastime and one reason why is because I love making my mom’s peanut butter balls. My 020mother passed away over eight years ago from cancer. We used to make Peanut Butter Balls together every year before Christmas. When my mother became sick she didn’t have the strength to make Peanut Butter Balls with me. I had to make them on my own. She passed away in October 2006, and that Christmas I went to her house. I made the Peanut Butter Balls like I usually did, except that year she wasn’t present to help; however, I felt her spirit there with me.

I try to make my Peanut Butter Balls every year because it was me and Mom’s Christmas tradition. I didn’t make them last year because I was trying to eat healthier and knew if I made them I would about eat all of them. I promised Jennifer that I would make them this year and write for her Sunday’s with Friends. I hope that you can take this recipe, make your own Christmas tradition, and enjoy it like I do.

Oh and by the way I still have the handwritten recipe that my mother wrote.

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  • 2 cups of Graham Cracker crumbs
  • 1 lb of powdered sugar
  • 2 sticks of butter melted
  • 1 cup of chopped nuts
  • 4 oz of flaked coconut
  • 12 oz jar of crunchy peanut butter
  • 12 oz or more of chocolate candy wafers

Mix first 6 ingredients in order given. Form into balls, which may need to be chilled for a while. Melt chocolate wafers in a double boiler and dip balls into melted chocolate. Place dipped balls onto wax paper until hardened. You can put them in the fridge or keep them on the counter. But, let them sit out on the counter for a bit before eating if you’re storing them in the fridge.

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The Beauty of Pimento Cheese…

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I just remembered that I never posted the November 2012 article I wrote for the November issue of our local magazine here.  Enjoy you guys!  December will be posted in the next couple of days!  *smiles*

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There aren’t many moments when I went to Maw-Maw’s house and didn’t see a plastic container of Pimento Spoons Red 2 with Nameshomemade Pimento Cheese sitting proudly in the refrigerator. Come to think of it, it’s probably one of the first things I learned to make growing up – besides homemade Buttermilk Biscuits that is. It wasn’t always about the Chocolate Chip Cookies in the Cookie Jar, the paintings we would do, the late nights watching Statler Brothers on PBS, or the playing of (banging on) the piano. Part of the joy at Maw-Maw’s was that container of orange-colored goodness named Pimento Cheese.

Let’s take a look at what Pimento Cheese is for the folks that may not quite understand this Southern delicacy. It’s typically shredded cheddar cheese, diced Pimentos, a little mayonnaise, mustard, salt and pepper. That’s it. You can eat it slathered between two pieces of lightly toasted white bread, sandwiched on crackers, or even spread into the hollow of a celery rib if you’d like. It’s one of those treats you can eat how you prefer and no one judges the method to your madness.

Speaking of how you prefer your Pimento Cheese – there are many different ways it’s prepared. Some like more mayonnaise so it’s creamier. Some like it thicker and chunkier. You can use Mild or Sharp Cheddar Cheese, depending on your preference. Some like it hot and add jalapeno, or even get adventurous with green olives and pecans in theirs. There are just so many tasty options when you start with such basic ingredients!

This brings me to my point – Did you know there are three different Pimento Cheeses that start with the letters “St” made right here in Alamance County? We have Stan’s, Star’s, and Steve’s. Out of curiosity, I went on a tasting spree the other day, and I wanted to share with you what I discovered with each one.

Before we start this, I think you need to know that I’m not one to be swooned by elaborate wrappers and labels. I’m a no-nonsense kind of Southern Gal. So, these were judged strictly on taste, and these are my Pimento Square Plate with Namesown opinions. Let’s go over each one’s high and low notes, just like at a fancy wine tasting.

· Stan’s (Burlington, NC) – Other than Maw-Maw’s Pimento Cheese, this one was the other staple in our house. There are nice large shreds of the cheddar cheese which gives it a thicker consistency, but still creamy. The coarse grind of black pepper in it helps balance out the mayonnaise twang. Pimentos are scattered evenly throughout the container, and the label even says it has Texas Pete in it. It’s a little higher in calories, and the high fructose corn syrup may contribute to that. However, I’ll make the sacrifice for a nice overall flavor.

· Star’s (Burlington, NC) – The “cheese” is quite a bit more processed in this one allowing it to be a thicker and creamier spread. The fact that it has a creamier texture would make it easy to pipe into cherry tomatoes or onto crackers as an appetizer at a holiday gathering. It’s definitely sweeter than Stan’s. The only thing that I found to be a negative about this one was the ingredients read “imitation” cheese, and this might explain the much embellished orange color of the spread. I guess this is why they call it Pimento Spread and not Pimento Cheese.

· Steve’s (Graham, NC) – You buy this little gem at Steve’s Garden Market in Graham, so that makes it a Pimento Cheese Bowls with Namesnice buying experience with the super friendly staff and great looking produce. If you’re a mayonnaise fan, this would be your choice. The first ingredient listed is mayonnaise, and it’s obvious why it’s listed first. The texture is very smooth, almost runny, with large chunks of cheese throughout and plenty of pimento. This was the only commercial one without High Fructose Corn Syrup as well. It ended up being pretty tasty. I personally prefer a little less mayonnaise with a thicker texture, though.

· Maw-Maw’s (Burlington, NC) – You knew I couldn’t leave hers out! Even though you can’t purchase it, I added it among the taste test so I would have my constant. Maw-Maw’s has always had Sharp Cheddar Cheese in it to give it a very cheesy deliciousness. She leaves the pimentos somewhat chunky so you can see and taste them. Very little mayonnaise goes in it, and just a hint of mustard. Salt and Pepper of course join those ingredients, and you end up with a nice chunky Pimento Cheese. What was that you asked? Any negatives about Maw-Maw’s Pimento Cheese? Only one negative…that you aren’t able to enjoy it with me.

Who would have thought they would have such similar names, but have such different flavors? Now I’m not one to tell you which one to go out and buy. I am one, however, to tell you to go taste them all. Life is about making your own decisions and enjoying the variety of options that you have in front of you to feed off of. Fortunately for you, food is one of the easiest decisions in life. I’m just here for guidance, and right now, I want you to smile. For the simple reason that you just read an entire article about the Southern delicacy that is Pimento Cheese. Say CHEESE y’all!

Pimento Spoons Words

Sundays with Friends: The Hungry Irishman

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I know! I know! I know! I’ve been away for way too long, and my sincerest apologies to you, because I love you all dearly and have missed you! Don’t forget you can always keep up with me daily at my Facebook Page, The Onyx Plate. No telling what I will update next with on there (yesterday was my Bacon loving cat, Cinder).

Things have been absolutely fantastic here in the Food portion of my world with another magazine article published here in November, and another one on the way in December. (I’ll post the November article shortly for you on here.) I’ve bought new dishes to take photographs with (so excited!), and have been looking for newer recipes that have a healthy twist to put in them (it’s time). My two “Foodie” part-time jobs are going great as well! Did I mention I get to meet Curtis Stone Thursday??????????!!!@#$!%!#%!@#$!#$^#&???? *enormous smiles!!!* (I’ll post photos, no worries. *wink*)

With all of that going on (including meeting a handsome Aussie Chef on Thursday), the most important thing about today is introducing you to a Chef/Caterer/Blogger that has become a good friend of mine and a source of inspiration (who just happens to be quite the handsome Irish Chef). I always like to think that if someone can provide me inspiration in my own life, just by being themselves, then that is someone I want in my life. It’s time to share him with The Onyx Plate, and I’m so proud to feature his writing.

Thank you, Brandon, for all of the inspiration you have provided me, and for writing this thought provoking article for us. Take it away, Brandon….

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Hello everyone!

My name is Brandon O’Sullivan, and I run a catering company and food blog by the same name The Hungry Irishman.  My friend here at The Onyx Plate and I have been discussing guest posts for about 8 months now, and I finally got a concrete enough idea to share with you. But first I want to introduce myself a little more thoroughly. I have been working in kitchens for almost a decade, and started off as a dishwasher, have climbed the ladder at each restaurant, and moved on to bigger and better locations. My culinary career, though, really got its start, at Andiamo. This was the first “real” kitchen I worked for, and was lucky enough to be surrounded by such generous talent, and picked up my passion for food as an art form. I currently am working at The Toasted Oak, in Novi, Michigan, where my craft continues to grow under some excellent guidance. I started this catering company by accident, really, and it has led me to a job that I love and an opportunity to connect with some truly amazing people. We specialize in private dinners and wine tastings, which as some of you may know, draws a crowd of a different sort, like me and Jennifer here :).

There has been a lot of negative buzz going around lately, regarding genetically modified foods and all sorts of other things. I wanted to take the time to share some solutions and options that are readily available, for those who are concerned and wish to put the absolute best fuel in their bodies.

I want to start with the importance of eating fresh, local ingredients. If I go to an average run-o-the-mill grocery store, and buy a six dollar bag of spinach, in three days, it’s slimy and inedible. Or, I can go to a local farmers market, prices of course depend on where you go, but for example, I can go to Detroit’s Eastern Market, and get a larger bag of spinach, for four dollars, that will last a week to a week and a half before showing signs of spoil. Not only does local food last longer, but by supporting the few remaining farmers, who aren’t making their living specializing in massive crops such as corn or soy, you are helping your local economy, and perpetuating community. I don’t know if you have had the pleasure, but if not, try this: eat a tomato, grown industrially, harvested mechanically, and then eat a tomato grown by an individual, who put his life and energy into the nurturing, care, and harvest. Tell me there isn’t a very clear difference in taste and texture. Here is a great resource for finding local farmers markets in your area: Local Harvest.

There is also the very feasible option of gardening. Most people don’t have land they can till to put food on the table, but there has been a huge surge in popularity for Urban Farming. There are also plenty of community gardens, way more than one might think. Many churches and similar establishments have gardens you can rent plots from, or trade a little time for charity, or by helping clean up the community garden to pay for your space. And if even that is too much, grow some fresh herbs on a balcony or a windowsill. Fresh herbs are, in my opinion, a chef’s best arsenal. The right or wrong fresh herb absolutely can make or break the best of cuisines. Farm to Table is a great page with tons of information on getting your own project started. I am also a fan of the growing “farm to restaurant” community, where restaurants are joining forces with many local farmers, to provide the freshest ingredients possible and help support local business.

Some of you may be looking for a better way to utilize the food you do have, or will acquire, and I feel Sprouting and Preserving are some of the most cost effective and healthy ways of getting to most out of your food. Sprouting consists of germinating seeds and grains, and unlocking all the nutrients inherent within, and turning it all into a much easier to eat (and digest) vegetable. Preserving can mean anything from jarring, canning, pickling, curing, smoking, etc. but for today, we will just discuss the basics. I would like to start by saying that ANYTHING can be preserved. There are just different techniques and steps, whether its a fruit, vegetable, or protein. The above link has all the information you will need to get started. But imagine having, say, three jars in your fridge, one with jalapeño pickled garlic, one with your favorite bread and butter dills, or perhaps some balsamic pickled cippollini onions, to bust out the next time you are entertaining guests. Imagine their surprised faces when you tell them it’s all homemade! Also, I feel it goes without saying how great it is to have your own homemade jellies, preserves, apple butters, pumpkin butters, and whatever tasty condiments you can devise at your disposal.

The biggest part of a healthy diet is greens, dark, leafy, delicious greens. This is the hard detail for most to swallow, since the American philosophy on salads seems to be 10% lettuce, 75 % toppings and cheese, and 15% creamy dressings. Many studies have shown greens to be the most incremental part of your diet, and should make up the bulk of what you eat. The nutrients abundant in greens are also great for your Heart. Most people are intimidated by greens, some are bitter, tough, etc. so here is a very useful source on where to find greens and how to cook them.

And I feel this last section won’t be quite as far reaching, but deserves an honorable mention nonetheless, but for those of you who are starting to question your dietary habits, I urge you to look into incorporating Raw Foods into your diet bit by bit, as thousands of people have testified to its ability to dramatically increase energy levels, and help with all other manner of health concern. Here’s another website with some great Raw Recipe’s.

Another heated topic for most, is protein. We have millions of vegan and vegetarian humans on this planet, who are living happy, healthy, successful lives, but the biggest argument against these dietary choices is the misconception that your body requires animal proteins and byproducts to do what it has done so well since birth. We are the only mammals that consume milk after infancy, not to mention the only mammals consuming milk from another species. If milk is so good for you, and detrimental to your bones’ ability to fortify themselves with calcium, then why don’t we drink human milk our whole lives? If it was the best, most natural way to gain nutrients, it would be a part of the natural order of things, and to me, consuming milk formulated by nature for calfs, doesn’t seem very aligned with nature. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good ribeye or burger every now and then, but I prefer vegetables. I recently made a vegetarian Mushroom “Brie-ger”, that as a good friend of mine (an avid carnivore) said was the best burger he has ever had.

The point I’m trying to make, is everyone should be more open with their diet, see what feels right to you. But for those who are interested check out Happy Cow, a good resource, and a list of proteins that are non animal byproduct. I would also highly recommend the documentary Forks Over Knives. Keep in mind, an elephant is a vegetarian, how do you suppose he survives and nourishes all that mass without eating other animals? Then there is always the fact that the cattle industry, as it stands, produces a very large portion of the air and water pollution we are experiencing the effects of everyday…

But anyways, here’s a site with a few Lighter Cooking Techniques for those just looking to make small changes to their cooking habits to effect large health changes over time.

I hope some of this information has been helpful! Also, I must recommend the book that made me look at food as a livelihood, and not a compulsion, In Defense of Food by Michael Pollan.

Till next time,

The Hungry Irishman

CONTEST: Who loves BBQ Sauce???

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I do! I do! I do! Who loves supporting local companies and businesses??? I do!

So with that said, I am pleased to bring you my first ever contest. Woohoo!!!  On top of that, what better thing to kick off the first contest with than some of the most amazing BBQ Sauce ever!

I’m so in love with Tay’s BBQ Sauce that I would like to give you two bottles of it. One is their “Sweet and Smoky”, and the other is their “All Purpose”. I think they both should be labeled all purpose because I use them each on everything! Below are a couple of links for you to check out two posts I’ve already written about this culinary delight called Tay’s Southern BBQ Sauce.

BBQ Sauce Makes Life Sexier

Quick and Easy Dinner Alert!

Gosh I love this stuff!

A little tidbit from Tay’s website…“Tay’s Sauce, LLC was created by Doug Hankins and his daughter, Taylor, from Cameron, NC. One year, they made BBQ sauce as Christmas gifts for their family and friends. Everyone loved the sauce, and it became a common request for them to make more. They were encouraged to bottle and sell their sauce, so in the spring of 2009, the “All Purpose Southern BBQ Sauce” was made available for purchase. After the all-purpose sauce took off, people started requesting a sweeter and smokier flavor. After months of trying to find just the right flavor combination, Doug introduced the “Sweet ‘N Smokey” flavor in the spring of 2011. We know that you will love this sauce just as much as their friends and family do. Doug and Taylor discussed that a percentage of all proceeds will go to their home church.”

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How to Enter:

The only thing you have to do to enter the contest is leave a comment below that tells me why you love BBQ Sauce.

***For extra entries***(once you complete each one, comment below and let me know you did it)

Good luck everyone, and I am so incredibly excited to share Tay’s with you!

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Contest ends Sunday, September 30, 2012, at 11:59pm ET. 

Tay’s Sauce, LLC is part of the fast growing “Goodness Grows in NC”, a department of the North Carolina Agriculture and Consumer Services.

Rambling on my way to my 30s and a Cooking Class on 9/5/12!!! Yay!

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First, I must apologize for all of the “reflection” posts lately, and lack of recipes. I’ll be back on the recipes shortly, I promise. I’m just in a very pivotal moment it seems in life. By no means is it a bad thing, but it is definitely causing me to think a lot about the future. A LOT.

For instance…let’s go through my current To-Do List…or should I call it my “What I’m Involved in while trying to maintain my sanity” list? *wink*

  • I have my regular day job – 10 hours a day/4 days a week.
  • I go to the gym each of those above 4 days I work, at 6am in the morning.
  • I write the blog for Iron Hen Café in Greensboro, NC.
  • I work part-time for Darryl’s in Greensboro, NC, managing a portion of their Guest Relations.
  • I have been submitting articles to various magazines, and one of which should be published in the month of September in our local Alamance County Magazine.
  • I also (you’re my witness) maintain my own baby the best I can, TheOnyxPlate.com.

Last but certainly far from the least…

  • I have been asked by Savory Spice Shop in Greensboro, NC, to do a cooking class for them. YAY!

Not only is this a great month of September coming up for me with the magazine publishing me, and the class happening…but, I’ll be turning 30 on September 4. 30! I’m excited about it. I’m not where I expected to be in life, honestly. By now, I expected to have a child…maybe two if the birthing process didn’t gross me out too much. Seems God had other plans though, as we’ve been trying for around four years now. I’m finally at a point where I’m ok with this for the time being. He’s brought so much more our way, and I have to trust that he knows what he’s doing. I also expected to not be in marriage counseling (however, I do believe it’s good for anyone to do…this is a good thing that we’re in counseling, folks). Sometimes you have to reach out and admit that you need a little help reconnecting. *smiles* I also expected to be stuck in a dead-end job (sorry, but I did)…and I’m truly not. Now, I’ll admit it, I want to be out of my current job by the end of the year. That may or may not happen. It’s not because I dislike the company I am working for…it’s because my passions in life are leading me elsewhere. I have been given so many opportunities to pursue in life, that I would be a fool to give up on this and stay stagnant in my ever-evolving life. There’s food to taste…people to meet…lives to inspire! *smiles*

So as I get ready to turn 30 in a little over a week, I will be preparing for my trip to Savannah, GA, with my Mom. She and I are going on a Mother/Daughter trip for a week to see the beauty, sights, and food of Savannah for my birthday. I can’t wait! What more could you ask for than going on a road trip with your best friend?

But, before the trip…I’ll be kicking off the first day of my 30s by exploring yet another avenue of my passion of inspiring people with food by doing the cooking class on September 5. I am so dang excited, y’all!

If you’re near the Greensboro, NC, area, I’d love to see you there! It’s going to be held at the Savory Spice Shop location in Friendly Center. The class is from 7pm-8:30pm, and the cost is $10/person. You must pre-register by calling them though, as there is a space limit for the shop. However, if more than a certain amount are interested, I get to do a second class! Woohoo!

With all of this being said, and thank you for listening, I’m going to trek on to my 30s. My 20s were absolutely amazing (with a little heartbreak and sorrow mixed in, as life does continue to happen), and I learned a lot about myself and life in general. I can only imagine where I’m headed in my 30s….but, you know what?….I’m ready!

A few shots of the advertising for the cooking class. I need to get my hands on some of these for mementos. *huge smiles*  There’s also some shots of the very rough draft prep work below while I was formulating some of the recipes yesterday.  I love taste testing!

Lions and Trees on plates, Oh My!

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For many of you that know me or have been following my blog, you know how important my family is to me. Today was an extremely warming day. Not just that it was above 90 degrees here in the humid South, but because I spent half the day with my most wonderful Grandma.

Every year, our church has Vacation Bible School. Each night of bible school, a different woman of the church prepares the snacks for the children. Monday was pizza, Tuesday was weenie biscuits, and tonight…yes, tonight…was Maw-Maw’s. *smiles*

About a month ago, Maw-Maw and I decided this would be a fun project to work together on. Now, granted, she may have been a little skeptical about working with a perfectionist…who can sometimes be difficult…she still agreed graciously. *wink* We came up with a cute idea after I saw a photograph online of food fun ideas, and we ran with it.

The day started at 1pm today with my arrival at her house. First thing was first, had to slice the apples and put them in Orange Juice (Maw-Maw found that this keeps them from turning…and it DID!). I’ll admit it…this would not have been an easy task were it not for my Williams-Sonoma apple corer/slicer/thingymabobber. Could not, would NOT, have done it without it. 20 apples later, it was time to cut the bread. We had 50 “heads” to cut out, and luckily Mom had lent us her Fondant cutters. To make things easier, Maw-Maw thought of freezing the loaf bread. With the freezing, it allowed the bread to cut through with the cutter and not just smush around the edges of the cutter. Ingenious, that woman is. Now you see where I get it. *wink*

After that, we began to assemble the “heads” into Peanut Butter and Jelly sandwiches. For the “non-PB” people (the crazy people), we made Ham and Cheese sandwiches. Being a good Southerner is all about pleasing everyone. Unfortunately…. *smiles*

We finally wrapped up prepping around 3:30, and we had just enough time for a little sit-down break. Shew, she worked me today!

The neighbor girls that Maw-Maw takes to VBS arrived around 4:15 at her house, and off we went. When we got to the church, the girls were great! They helped with everything we asked them to do, and we couldn’t have asked for any better. It was the kind of help that gives me hope that the generation below me isn’t all bad.

The plates were set out, and an abundance of adults and kids were commenting on how great everything looked. They ate, we cleaned up, and then we watched them do some of their activities.

Even 20 years later, you still remember the activities from VBS. The same women that were there when I participated in it, were still there this week doing it. Maybe a little grayer, more love-lines, but who cared? They did it with just as much love tonight, as they always did when I was young. It reminded me of a simpler time, when all I needed to know how to do was move my hands in various motions to match the words that I was singing. It was just pure bliss seeing the little kids do that tonight. Made me smile. *smile*

I caught up with an old friend as well while there, loaded up the car, and sat around with Maw-Maw until the kids were done. The girls hopped in her car, and we all went back to our respective homes. It was a day complete.

So that’s the schedule of the day. There was much more about the day that made it warm. Today was a good day for Maw-Maw and I to spend time together. Today is the 16th anniversary of the death of Paw-Paw. He was such an important part of our life, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him. Dealing with someone’s death never gets easier, we just learn to move forward with their memory. That’s why it is so incredibly important not to take for granted the days we have with our family members and loved ones. We all know how life turns out, but it doesn’t mean we can’t make it beautiful for others while we’re here. So that they too will have warm memories of us for years to come, as I have of my Paw-Paw.

 

Sundays with Friends: Sparkling Smoothies with the sparkling young ladies of GurlBye

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A couple Sundays ago I posted about a good friend of mine and her group, GurlBye. They sent me two recipes, and here is the second installment. If you didn’t have a chance to look at the Rhythm Roll post (which looked incredibly delicious, and I’m making tonight *smile*), you should. You can find the previous post by clicking here.

If you did miss it…here is what GurlBye is all about…

We are women on a mission to aid in the mental transformation of young girls from their days of Barbie dolls and dress up, to a whole new world of getting to know self. Our focus is on middle school aged girls, because for many of them this is the first time in their lives when they will actually take notice of changes in their environment. Middle school is a time when questions begin to require better answers than “Because I said so” and “That is just the way it is.” Our girls are growing up fast. Many of them are much more intelligent than what is shown in the Media. They are taking charge in front of and behind the scenes and realizing the importance of divine wisdom, love, trust, compassion, and reaching far beyond the limits the world sets for them. GurlBye encourages young women to put aside judgmental ways that could cause negativity and begin to embrace each human as an individual.

The young ladies of GurlBye got together and cooked for The Onyx Plate. Our meal consisted of Rhythm Rolls, Roasted Red Potatoes, and Fresh Spring Salad. We also sipped Sparkling Smoothies while we talked and prepared the food. The girls were delighted to cook as this was the first time preparing a meal for most of them.

*SPARKLING SMOOTHIES*

Ingredients:

  • Ice
  • Fresh Strawberries
  • 1 bag of frozen fruit (mango, peach, pineapple)
  • 1 bottle of Ginger Ale
  • Plain Yogurt

Mix ice, 1 cup of yogurt, 2 cups of Ginger Ale, and 2 cups of frozen mixed fruit in blender. Serve chilled and garnish cups with strawberries.

The NC BBQ Company…some of the best letters ever combined together!

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Just take a second and review the below company seal…what all do you see?

Every little detail screams North Carolina and BBQ! Just love it!

While I was sick in the middle of December last year, I was laid up at home on the computer…A LOT! I entered a FB contest to win some BBQ during that time from The North Carolina Barbecue Company and won! Woohoo! Below is how they announced the winner of their contest….(how clever!)

I went by and picked up my BBQ a couple of weeks ago, and my oh my. It was quite the great experience. I got to meet with one of the owners, Ryan, and discuss BBQ. We talked a lot about their business plans coming up, and how I might be able to participate in some other things BBQ. Let’s get to the nitty gritty though and discuss what I won…

A Battle Box….you know (well you might not if you’re not from around these parts) that old battle between Eastern and Piedmont BBQ? Well, this perfect little package lets you judge for yourself in one convenient box, with super easy to prepare packaging (the BBQ comes in boil bags! *perfection*).  It contains BBQ, slaw, and sauce for both Piedmont and Eastern styles (and a mini Texas Pete – perfection). If you’re not too familiar with the differences…Eastern sauce is more vinegary and Piedmont is thicker and sweeter normally. Eastern slaw is mayonnaise based, and Piedmont slaw is marinated. Eastern BBQ is the whole hog, and Piedmont BBQ is traditionally the shoulders. Understand a little better now? *smiles*

I'll take a bite of everything!

I had my family over for dinner that night I picked up the Battle Box, and we had a very tasty dinner full of BBQ! The Eastern had everything I love in it….big meaty chunks of pork. The Piedmont was more chopped, as you would expect shoulders to be done. Even though they both were amazingly flavored, we had a mixed table that night. I, myself, loved the Eastern style BBQ. The sauces were pretty similar and both were quite tasty. Now…the slaw…in LOVE with the Piedmont marinated slaw. *huge smiles* Nothing better to go with delicious BBQ than marinated slaw in my book.

If you want to have your own Battle Royale of BBQ then you can order your own Battle Box by clicking here. Five of us ate off the small Battle Box that I had won…not including leftovers for about three more sandwiches.

Food for thought: Ryan made a good point when I was talking with him…BBQ establishments are good wholesome family places. They are all deeply rooted in family and religion, and you never see a BBQ restaurant that serves alcohol around here. So go check out your local BBQ joint, or order you your own Battle Box….or, hey, if you’re blessed with the BBQ gene, get to making your own (but don’t forget to call me over)!

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