Food is My Love Language

I have a friend who always tags her foodie pictures with #foodismylovelanguage.  And I get it!  Because there are a few of us who show others how much we love them by feeding them every opportunity that arises.

I love preparing special meals for our visitors–surprising whomever I can with a meal from their homeland.  I had a game night for Minnesotan friends from work where I made Tatertot Hot-dish.  Ick.  They loved it.  I didn’t.  When our visiting worker from the Dominican Republic vetoed Italian food, I cooked an all day affair which turned out to be Sancocho.  Sometimes I like to ask if anyone wants something special–and I have whipped up everything from chocolate chip cookies to cornbread and beans.

I don’t just cook foods from other places for other people though–often I will think of someone, then cook a food that reminds me of them.  For example, I have been really homesick for Chiapas lately.  I normally visit there during the summer months, but we are skipping our trip this summer.  What came out of my kitchen as a result was black beans and salsa–which we ate with tortillas and fresh cheese.  I roasted the onions and peppers on the stovetop before adding the blacked parts to my tomato pulp (procured by “shredding” the tomato flesh on the cheese grater).  The more time consuming the project is, the more time I have to think on them!

This morning I made homemade cinnamon rolls–too many!  I still have a pan of cinnamon rolls sitting in the kitchen!  There’s a gallon of iced tea on the counter-top, and buttermilk just waiting for some biscuits to be made tomorrow.  Our basil plant needed to be cut back, so I made a friend’s pesto recipe a couple days ago (and shared the frozen pesto leftover with another friend who stopped by to visit).

I may not be able to be all the places that I am thinking of today: Virginia, Tennessee, Chiapas, etc.  But each memory inspires something new to happen in my kitchen.  Memories of those places are taking over my mind–and dancing across my plate.  Oh, yes! I do believe that food is my love language too!

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How To Beat The Homesick Blues

“I’ll be home for Christmas…” has been running through my head on a repeat-cycle.  Of course, I won’t be “home” for Christmas.  Actually, to be honest, I don’t even really know where I consider home to be anymore.

  • Option One:  It could be my Tennessee house.  That’s where I go now when I get vacation time.  It’s the same home that I spent the majority of my childhood in–so it has good memories.  It’s where the family meets, where my things are stored, etc.
  • Option Two:  It could be Northern Virginia.  I was there for three years–the longest I’ve ever lived and worked in one place after graduation.  That’s where many of my friends are–as well as part of my family.  I equally feel the need to go there on vacation.
  • Option Three:  Or maybe it’s true that “home is where the heart is.”  If that’s the case, then Mexico is my home.  I miss it when I leave.  I can’t imagine living back in the States running the rat race.  I tell people that I must have a Mexican heart–because I sure do love the life and the people here.

In any case, today home is with my family.  I love my sweet family here–but between Skyping with my sisters and seeing pictures of my Mama with my nephews, I’ve come down with a bad case of the Homesick Blues.  The homesick blues are what happens when you start yearning for things that you can’t have.  I’m not one to stay blue too long, and between Ale and Victor that’s hard to do anyway.

This is today’s cure-all recipe for all that ails you (if what ails you is the Homesick Blues):

  • 1 pot of Chicken and Dumplings
  • 1 pitcher of Sweet Tea
  • something Chocolate

It works, I tell ya!

I remember watching Mamaw make Chicken and Dumplings.  She would use the whole chicken–complete with bones for better flavor.  Sometimes all the bones didn’t get removed, and that made eating a chore.  This is how I made Chicken and Dumplings today:

  1. Boil chicken in a big pot of water with a generous amount of ground pepper and a pinch of salt.
  2. After the chicken is cooked, pull it apart with a fork to shredded pieces.  Allow this to keep cooking in the water.
  3. While Chicken is boiling, make biscuits:  2 cups of flour, 1 tsp baking powder, 1/4 tsp salt, 1/2 cup butter or shortening, 3/4 cup of buttermilk.  Mix dry ingredients.  Add butter and cut it with a fork until it is in pea-size pieces.  Add milk and mix–but not too much!  Turn out onto floured surface.  Pat down until your husband walks by and asks if you’re making pizza.
  4.  Give him a lesson on how to properly say dumplin’.  “Dump-lynn.  No, Dump… now lynn.”  Give up on that–but don’t give up on those biscuits!  (The secret is to not mess with them too much…)
  5. Slice the dumplings into strips and drop them into the boiling water.  They will sink–then start floating!
  6. Allow this to cook on medium heat until the dumplings are cooked.  You will end up with a nice gravy broth from the flour in the biscuits.
  7. Add mixed veggies like peas, carrots, corn, etc.  (Mamaw didn’t do this–but it makes me feel better about eating biscuit soup…)
  8. Feed your family hearty bowls of chicken and dumplings–but puree some until it looks disgusting for your baby.  (It just looks that way–it’s actually still delicious!)
  9. Serve with a tall glass of ice tea…sweet, of course!

That’s it!  That’s all you have to do to feel better–and less blue!  Well, it doesn’t cure it completely, but at least you won’t be hungry and blue!

Peter, Peter, Pumpkin Eater

20131019-091340.jpgMy baby playing while I work at Starbucks.

Last year I was so excited for the arrival of October. Yes, I live in the desert. Yes, it looks the same all year long. But there was one little thing I couldn’t wait to get my hands on… Pumpkin Spice Lattes from Starbucks!

I tried Every. Starbucks. In. Town. Finally I accepted the fact that Mexico, while plentiful in the salsa category, was sorely lacking in the sweet-treats-of-fall category. Sigh. I feel like I should write a sonnet for my fall friends. After all, a love like this is a special thing. When I bought squash, pumpkin, and sweet potatoes the other day, I felt so at home! I hurried back to my kitchen to make Mama Bell’s “Pumpkin” Soup. Yummy! (And Victor was excited to find out that you could do something with squash other than adding sugar.)

Well, my love affair has blossomed with my little Sweet Pea. I like to add sweet potatoes or pumpkin to her food. I feel like she needs to grow an affection for those too. There are many autumn goodies in her future.

This year I was thrilled to hear that Starbucks finally got the message. Of course this came after I learned to make my own pumpkin spice lattes. And guess what? I like them better! I wake up in the morning, and put this on the stovetop: 2 cups of milk, 1/2 cup of pumpkin purée, 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spices, and sugar to taste. I cook that and add 2 cups of coffee. Oh. My. Word. It’s like a party in my pink coffee mug! I drink that deliciousness down slowly–and I savor every drop.

If only we could ship the trees, and the leaves, and the crisp morning air, and the smell of campfires, and…