Bluffton Packet

Attention all chief cooks and bottle washers: Time to rattle those pots and pans

A framed Menu makes an eye-catching and serviceable addition to the kitchen.
A framed Menu makes an eye-catching and serviceable addition to the kitchen.

We all ponder about something at one time or another, but I‘m sure we housewives might do more “pondering” than others, especially when it comes to cooking. Hmm, to ponder: meaning “to consider a subject very deeply and thoroughly.”

I can’t speak for all cooks, but this cook, meaning myself, ponders upon arising, “Now, what shall I cook for dinner” with only a few hours to get it all together and ready to serve.

I see some of you readers scratching your head and wondering, “What’s she getting all worked up about, she’s got all day to cook.”

Wrong! Around my kitchen, the three meals of the day are breakfast, dinner and supper. Breakfast at sunrise, dinner at noon and supper come sundown.

Mentioning this “meal-pondering” dilemma some time back to my granddaughter, Cheryl, she surprised me with a solution: a framed “Menu” to stand on the bar in my kitchen with the days of the week listed and open spaces to fill in the main dish of the day with a dry erase pen. Neat!

Since I cook one big meal a day, dinner (midday), and ad lib for the others, this eliminates a headache. Better than Excedrin!

Now, one short time a week, I plan my weekly menu, check my pantry and freezer assuring all ingredients needed are on hand, then it’s, “Ready, set, go!”

This way, by checking my menu ahead, if the next day’s meal will be a Crock-Pot dish of meat needing to be tendered on low for eight hours overnight, it can be thawed in advance if it’s frozen.

Regardless, whether the main dish of the day will be fried, in gravy or baked, it sure helps to have it all figured out.

Other surprises that help planning is when another country cook and friend calls and says she has a dish for me if I’d like it.

That happened recently when, having a covered dish dinner at church, friend Charlene said she had an extra bowl of cooked collard greens to drop off, along with the separate ham bone if I wanted to drop it in a pot of peas. Saint’s Preserve! Would I! Bring it on!

I’m not one to “look a gift horse in the mouth,” and Charlene cooks up a “mean” pot of collard greens with bits of ham chopped up through them for seasoning. Also, it provided a good green vegetable to highlight my pot of chicken pilaf.

And, by the way, everything she brought was magically “free” of cholesterol, so that ham bone ended up seasoning my pot of white acre peas. Whipping up a pan of cornbread was all the meal needed to polish it off.

My mother-in-law, Mammy, instructed me, “When planning your meal, you decide what your meat will be and then add two vegetables of different colors for side dishes. Then your plate always has three colors, making it pleasing to the eye, palatable and savory.”

But we mustn’t forget dessert, so to level off this country-cooked meal, I fixed a Pineapple Lush Cake using fat-free, sugar-free ingredients for a “no-guilt” eat-all-you-want before pushing your chair from the table.

Sometime we don’t have to look far for additives to garnish or flavor a dish when by happenstance you come across a batch of fresh, green wild onions growing right in your yard. Wild onions are edible and can be used in soups, or snip the tops to sprinkle on a salad.

Wild onions will definitely have a strong onion scent. Typically found growing in the spring in flower beds, or popping up in your lawn, some homeowners would like to get rid of them while some cooks pull them up, wash them and use them to flavor up a dish.

Whew! Pondering is done, the meal is ready and awaits its blessing: God is great! God is good! Let us thank Him for our food. And God bless the cook! Amen.

Jean Tanner may be reached at jstmeema@hargray.com.

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