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Sunday, February 12, 2017

Stinking' to high heaven


It's really warmed up the last few days around East Tennessee, where I live today. We went up to mom & dad's this morning and found mom in the garage splitting kindling. When I refer to mom & dad in the present day, it's really Mick's parents. We asked her what in the world she was doing making more kindling. She said it was such a nice warm day, she thought she would get it done. She has a room in the garage that she spends time in with her cats, listens to a basketball game on the radio sometimes, and keeps a fire in the stove from October to March. In the house, they have central heat, but she builds a fire in the garage every day. Even when it snows, she will clear a path to the garage and build a fire so she can warm up from being out in the snow.... clearing that path. It makes her happy, so as long as she can do it, she will and we will look on in wonderment.

The drive up was beautiful. The fields are all clear, but not yet turned over. It won't be long before they are prepared for corn, tomatoes, soybeans, and maybe some tobacco. I saw bundles of tomato stakes at one farm as we drove by. Some of the fields are beginning to green up. You can see forever to the ridges in the distance. Daffodils are popping up in the front yards of long ago abandoned shacks. I imagine some of these were once vibrant homes of sharecroppers. I wish I had gotten a picture of one we drove past. The roof was beginning to collapse, the porch steps almost gone, but in an almost perfect row were the daffodils standing tall and bright yellow. Hope rising, as decay reclaims timbers to the soil.

Dad has already turned the garden once. He is waiting for another snow so it will add some nitrates to the soil. They were talking about getting some cabbage out soon. They do grow some of the most beautiful cabbage. Mom knows I like to make cole slaw, so they put out some just to give us. I always prefer to use fresh cabbage instead of pre-shredded and bagged. I think it makes all the difference in the world. When you shred fresh cabbage, it releases much more flavor into the slaw.

Mary showed me how to make cole slaw many years ago and over time I developed my own recipe. I keep it simple. I don't add carrot or onion, although many do. I stick with traditional cabbage, but if you want to add purple cabbage, it's entirely up to you. As I said, I keep it simple, and the recipe is a simple formula:

1 head of cabbage
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup soured milk (mix 1/2 milk and 1/2 vinegar) You could also use buttermilk
1/4 cup of sugar
salt & pepper to taste

I shred the cabbage on what Mary called the ole knuckle buster, toss it into a large bowl and add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. I taste it after it is mixed and add whatever is needed for taste. Sometimes it's a little more salt, sometimes more vinegar, and sometimes more sugar. I like the blend of tangy and sweet, with that bite of fresh cabbage. Then I like to let it set for a couple of hours in the fridge.
The ole knuckle buster, as Mary would call it. It's quick and easy to use. I prefer it over a food processor for shredding the cabbage.


Got all my ingredients together. I usually sour
the milk first and let it sit while I shred
the cabbage.


Mix well and adjust for taste.
I know I said to let it sit for a couple of hours, but I always try just a little right after I make it.

Mick won't eat cole slaw. He can't stand the smell of it, especially when I open the bowl and that first whiff of "freshness" hits you. He also won't eat potato salad. That is another thing I specialize in, which Mary also taught me how to make. He will eat hard boiled eggs, but not egg salad, and he would die if he had to eat a deviled egg. But, I don't mind that he turns his nose up to them. These are all favorites of mine and I am happy to have them all to myself.

Another thing that we saw on the way up to mom and dad's was a dead skunk on the side of the road and we saw some yesterday. I've seen them all week going to and from work. I don't know why so many are out and about, but perhaps it's the warm weather. Perhaps they are getting a little early spring fever. At any rate, it's not been good for them. I looked for this song that my mom played in the car when we were kids. We played it over and over. I guess it was on an 8-track and I am sure it was in mom's Dodge Demon. It was yellow with a black stripe down the side. At the end of the stripe, there was a Tasmanian devil. Mom loved that car. It was her first. She didn't get her driver's license until after I was in kindergarten. We went everywhere in that car and we wore the 8-track out. The song was Dead Skunk in the Middle of the Road, and you could hear us all sing it at the top of our lungs as we barreled down the open road.