In honor of an Alabama Snow Day: my beloved Scottish Terrier Alex (he’s passed away) playing in the snow. He loved the snow and he had the opportunity to play in it often when I lived in Washington, DC.
For the past couple of years, Birmingham, Ala. has seen record cold in the winter. Our city is located in North Central Alabama, we have a mountainous terrain, so if it snows it makes the city very hard to navigate. Temperatures tonight will be 10 degrees or below with a wind-chill of below zero. It is very rare to see these types of temps, but we can get them. Make sure you and your four-legged buddies stay warm tonight.
I for one am happy to see 2014 leave, and to welcome with great anticipation 2015. I don’t about how your year went, but probably just like everyone else it wasn’t without it’s trials and tribulations. Leaving all of that aside, I look forward to whatever 2015 may hold for us all. On a side note, I don’t make New Year Resolutions because quiet frankly it puts too much pressure on me to hold on to them and succeed. However, I will say that I do set goals and I have some in mind for 2015.
So Adieu 2014!
It would not be fitting to end here, so for Wordless Wednesday, I am attaching a video from Youtube of Auld Lang Syne sung by Mairi Campbell and Dave Francis’. It is a reflective, somewhat acoustic version of the song that has been adapted from the poem written by the Scottish poet Robert Burns in the 1700’s. The phrase translates to “times gone by.” A little trivia according to ABC News, Burns never intended for the song to become a “holiday song,” but Guy Lombardi used the song in between a live performance of two radio programs in 1929 at the Roosevelt Hotel in New York City, and since then, the song has been associated with holidays. Cheers to friends old and new! Happy New Year!
Admittedly, I believe that most people who know me think I am too busy working and focusing on my job, to know how to cook or let alone enjoying cooking. But, I am here to tell you that these thoughts couldn’t be further from the truth. In fact, I spent most of my childhood in the small Alabama town of Opelika, which is the twin city to Auburn. My father was the basketball coach at Opelika High and so my childhood was surrounded by everything that had to do with small-town America and the activities one finds to do in a small town. That being said, there were certain activities my mother insisted my sister and I be involved in; one was dancing, ballet, tap and jazz classes twice a week and the other was Girl Scouts. My sister and I were very involved in Girl Scouts, and it was up to my mother to see that we filled up our sashes with every possible badge there was to get in the organization. This meant that we worked towards badges during our regular meetings as well as at camp in the summer. Every summer we were carted off to Camp Concharty in Pine Mountain, Georgia. For two straight weeks we worked tirelessly to earn the badges we were supposed to while living outside in the mountains of Georgia. Camp is where I learned to cook on a modified Crisco can with a wood fire underneath that you had to build and keep it burning yourself. Eggs and bacon were practically the only thing you could cook on the small cooktop. Determined to get the cooking badge and after a couple of tries on actually cooking the eggs and bacon, I was successful.
When we returned home after the two weeks at camp and after we started school in the fall, it quickly became my responsibility to at least start dinner when got home from school. My mother worked outside the home and this was one of my chores after getting my homework. Even though I belabored the task at times, I am grateful to my mother for making me learn to cook because it helped me later when I went away to college and it taught me how to fully function on my own. It also kept me out of the fast food lines. So getting back to the title of this post and purpose of this post Southern casseroles; my dad every year at Christmas asks me to cook breakfast on Christmas morning. In taking on this task, I had to find a recipe that would feed our family of 12. I found my Cheesy Bacon and Ham Southern Breakfast Casserole in the 2001 November issue of Southern Living Magazine. It has become a tradition for me to cook this casserole every year. It also is one that satisfies even the pickiest of eaters in my family. Incidentally, to save time on Christmas morning and to make getting to opening presents quicker, I make my casserole a day ahead.
From My Recipe.com
Cheesy Bacon-and-Ham Casserole
Southern Living NOVEMBER 2001
- 1/2 pound bacon
- 1/2 pound chopped cooked ham
- 3/4 cup quick-cooking grits
- 1 (16-ounce) loaf prepared pasteurized cheese product, cubed
- 1/4 cup butter or margarine
- 6 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1/2 cup milk
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
Cook bacon in a large skillet until crisp; remove bacon, and drain on paper towels, reserving 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Crumble bacon, and set aside.
Cook ham in reserved drippings in skillet over medium heat until browned.
Cook grits according to package directions. Remove from heat; stir in cheese and butter until melted. Stir in bacon, ham, eggs, and remaining ingredients. Pour into a lightly greased 13- x 9-inch baking dish.
Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until set.
NOTE: Casserole may be prepared a day ahead; cover and chill. Remove from refrigerator the following day, and let stand at room temperature 30 minutes. Bake as directed.
Each year at Christmas, I begin to recall how I spent Christmas as child, a time when life was much more innocent than it is now as an adult. This year was no exception. With everything going on in the world, there was one story I kept flashing back to in my mind. As my memory serves me, the following story is very special to me this year.
Not too long ago, Christmas Eve was always celebrated at my mother’s parents’ house. All of my aunts, uncles and cousins would gather for dinner and gifts around 5:00 pm. Much to my cousins, sister and my dismay, the dinner always took place first. And then further to our dismay, we had to wash the dishes before presents could be opened. And my grandparents at that time had no dishwasher, other than my aunts or when we were older, me, my sister and cousins. After the kitchen was cleaned, we all gathered in the living room for family photos and opening of presents.
After the celebration my family would travel to Blount County, Alabama, to spend the night with my dad’s parents on the lake. We would always travel the back road to my grandparents’ house, because it seemed to be easier and less traveled. I will never forget one Christmas Eve, which happened to be a very cold night, it was late and we were traveling that road, we came upon an elderly couple who had a flat tire. When you see something like this, it’s very easy to pass it by and not be bothered. But that’s not my dad. He decided to stop and lend a helping hand. I watched him in the freezing cold help change this couple’s tire. They were very, very grateful to him.
My dad’s act of kindness that cold winter’s night and the couples’ gratitude are the true meaning of Christmas to me.