One year, when I was a preteen and the Easter season was being explained to me, my parents and I talked about what we would give up for Lent. Daddy gave up bread. Mama said she was going to give up cakes. I decided on peanuts.
All periods of self-denial begin with good intentions.
Homemade biscuits were a daily item at my house growing up. As Daddy bit into a biscuit that first morning, he was reminded of his decision. To this, he replied, "I meant cornbread."
Along the way, I got my hands on some peanuts, and therein ended my self-denial. Mama, however, stayed on her path -- even though a cake was baked weekly.
Most people find ways to better themselves during Lent. Some decide to exercise more or lose weight. Others find ways to give of themselves to make their corner of the world a better place.
This Lenten season I decided to do 40 things each day that would help me learn more about myself and others, that would make me a better person at the end of 40 days.
Each day poses a new set of 40 things for me to do. I count conversations with friends, my moments of appreciation of nature and the many pieces of paper that flow through my hands. I keep a list of the things: daily reading from The Holy Bible, answering emails, sending cards, writing letters, de-junking and discovering new recipes to cook chicken.
SPANISH-STYLE CHICKEN PAELLA
Makes: 4 servings
4 ounces chorizo sausage, sliced
4 chicken wings
4 chicken legs
1 medium onion, chopped
1 small red pepper, cut in chunks
1 clove garlic, minced
3/4 cup long-grain rice
1 1/2 teaspoon instant chicken bouillon
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
3 cups hot water
4 baby carrots, cut in chunks
1 (10 ounces) frozen peas
1 (10 ounces) frozen artichoke hearts
1/4 cup pitted ripe olives
5 cherry tomatoes, halved or 1/2 cup tomato wedges
Salt and pepper
In a 12-inch skillet, brown sausage over medium heat about 10 minutes. Drain, reserving drippings in pan; set aside. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Brown chicken in reserved drippings; remove chicken, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in pan. Add onion, red pepper and garlic to pan; cook until onion is tender. Stir uncooked rice, bouillon granules, turmeric and water; bring to boiling. Add sausage and carrots. Arrange chicken on top. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, rinse peas and artichokes under tap water to separate. Arrange peas, artichokes and olives atop chicken. Cover and cook 15 to 20 minutes more or until rice and chicken are tender.
Just before serving, add tomatoes and heat through. To serve, toss mixture gently together.
Source: "Sharing Family and Friendship, Generation to Generation," by Deloris Pringle (1995)
HOT CHICKEN SALAD
3/4 cup chopped celery
1 small chopped onion
1/4 stick oleomargarine
2 cups diced chicken
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup cooked rice
3 eggs, hard-boiled
3/4 cup mayonnaise
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Steam celery and onions in oleomargarine until clear. Mix with remaining ingredients. Pour into Pyrex baking dish. Top with potato chips. Cook until bubbly -- about 25 minutes.
Source: "First Lady Cookbook: Grandma's Favorites," by Edna K. Feryus (1975)
CHICKEN AND DUMPLINGS
Make: 6 servings
1/4 cup shortening
2 cups self-rising flour
3/4 cup boiling water
1 quart chicken broth
1 hen, cut up
Butter, if needed
Salt and pepper
Mix shortening with flour until well blended. Add boiling water, a little at a time to flour mixture. Roll out thing on floured board and cut in strips. Drop in boiling broth, then turn heat to low and add cut up chicken. Cook about 10 minutes or until dumplings are tender. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Source: "Bayou Cuisine: Its Traditions and Transition," by Mrs. Arthur Clark Jr. (1970)
Columnist Ervena Faulkner is a Port Royal resident and a retired educator who has always had an interest in food and nutrition.