"Food is never just food. It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be."
I read this quote over the weekend from the introduction of A Homemade Life and it really struck a chord with me.
I have been thinking about our Sunday dinner in this context.
Grilled Lemon Pepper Shrimp with summer squash, broccoli and onions - Who We Are. Living on the Gulf Coast and having our own vegetable garden combined with a need to eat a little healthier...that is definitely us.
Fried Okra and Strawberry Shortcake - Who We Have Been. If that doesn't say Southern born and raised I don't know what would!
Fresh Whipped Cream for our shortcakes - Who We Want To Be. At least, that is who Bri and I dream of being as we watch Food Network and Cooking Channel. Growing up, I thought that whipped cream either came in a tub or a spray can. I had no idea that I could whip up such deliciousness with a hand mixer and a small milk carton of heavy whipping cream.
It is true that 'food is not just food' at our house...and probably not at yours either.
Food is how we celebrate. Each birthday girl/boy knows that they get to set the menu and choose the dessert on their special day. Christmas is not complete until the Shrimp Etouffee has been served up with steaming bowls of rice. The Fourth of July means Bar-B-Q Ribs and deviled eggs and homemade ice cream. Family vacation is not official until the Bar-B-Q Shrimp has been dusted off and every last drop of butter sopped up with the French bread!
Food is how we soothe what ails you. Yesterday afternoon Bri fell off her horse. She was pretty banged up with a sprained ankle and a cut over her left eye that required gluing her back together. But, because we were so close to her one year recovery period from her car accident last May, we knew we had to be absolutely certain that the fall had not re-fractured her pelvic bone. We barely escaped surgery last time and the orthopedic told her to be super careful for the first year. So...what did she and I do between the Urgent Care center and the diagnostic clinic? We grabbed my baby girl some Chick-fil-A...that's what! Cold and flu season means whoever is feeling under the weather has special permission to request whatever might taste good. And heaven knows, when I was pregnant with my babies, my grandmothers would cook anything they knew that I was craving. Banana pudding...boiled okra with new potatoes...biscuits with chocolate syrup...it didn't matter, I got it!
Food is also how we express love. Any time we have a child come home for a visit with a special request, we try our best to accommodate. Last minute get tegether's that linger long on the back porch means some sort of appetizer will be thrown together to tide us over while we sit long and reminisce. Even cornbread...the love language of My Hero. He like his plain, I like mine sweet...so five out of every six times I make it, you will not find any sugar in the batter.
It is my love for you that moves me to share a recipe that I came across last night. I had thawed chicken breasts for supper and planned to put together some sort of casserole when I arrived home. But with the unexpected stress of Urgent Care and a later arrival home than I had planned, I needed a Plan B. Thank goodness for the Internet. I found a recipe for "Easy Garlic Broiled Chicken" at allrecipes.com. (Click the link to see the original.) I had to improvise a little due to the lack of time to plan...but everyone LOVED it and requested that I save that recipe.
Fonda's Version of Easy Garlic Broiled Chicken
4 chicken breasts (Mine were huge, so I cut them into three smaller portions each)
1 stick of butter (I use salted butter)
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tablespoons soy sauce
Dash of black pepper
2 - 3 tablespoons cilantro (I finely cut mine with kitchen shears)
Preheat the oven broiler. Lightly grease a baking pan.
In a small saucepan, over low heat, melt butter. Add garlic, soy sauce, black pepper and cilantro. Cook two minutes or until cilantro begins to wilt and garlic looks softened.
Arrange chicken on baking pan. Pour two-thirds of the butter mixture over the chicken. Reserve the rest for basting.
Place chicken under broiler for 10 minutes, turn and use remaining butter mixture for basting. Broil for 5 minutes, and turn for remaining 5 minutes.
Place chicken on platter and scrape drippings on top. Serve to smiles and oohs and aahs and 'can I have more's!