Food and memories: an ode to one of the finest….

Food, aromas, tastes, they all can bring hidden memories rushing to the forefront.  Memories from when you are a kid and comfort foods.  Trying a recipe and reaching to call one of the best cooks you know, only to realize she’s not there any more…..

We recently lost Old Rooster’s mom, Mama Rooster.  Best MIL a Phathen could have; to be loved as one of her own chicks, and crowed over as well. Its hard to lose someone you love, but its especially hard to lose someone as wonderful as Mama Rooster.

She raised three kids on next to nothing.  Oh, things got better as the years went by, and she and Papa Rooster eventually lived comfortably on their 5 acres and in their beautiful home.  But the real story of this fabulous cook, lies in the hard times and the creativity it took to make a meal out of very little and fill those 5 tummies….

An old school cook, Mama Rooster used lard/Crisco for her pie crust, and plenty of butter and evaporated milk and all those things the health nuts wince at even thinking of using.  But let me tell you something, no food tasted better than what came out of her kitchen.  She is best remembered for her icebox pies; I especially loved her chocolate and Papa Rooster loved her coconut.  I never liked coconut pie until I ate hers.  Still won’t eat any other coconut, they just are terrible next to hers.   EVERYTHING was made from scratch and her crusts were so good.  You could hold a slice in your hand and eat it like that, they were so firm, but so tender.  I tried making pie crust and served it to her.  It was okay, really it was, but she was so loving and told me it was just so good and I’d done a good job.  Thanks, mom, for loving me and encouraging me.

I wouldn’t eat all day knowing I was going to be sitting at her table that night.  Fried chicken, oh Lord could she fry chicken.  I learned to fry it properly from watching her.  Still isn’t as good as hers, but she taught me.  Pot pies, hams, pork chops, whatever.  If it came from her kitchen, it was delicious and heavenly.  And everyone wanted a place at her table.

She could go into her pantry and whip together a meal that tasted good even if it wasn’t of the fanciest ingredients.  If she didn’t have what was exactly needed, she could find a substitute and you’d never know it wasn’t made just the way it should.  Have you ever had chocolate gravy?  Over biscuits?  Well, her kids grew up having that for breakfast on occasion.

Oh and she didn’t use recipes, no not at all.  So nothing is in writing.  Except Sister, who is as good a cook as her mother, was able to write out the recipe for dressing for Thanksgiving.  Its still a do it by feel type of thing, but we almost have it down.

I sure need her advise and experience as I experiment in cooking without salt to take care of her son.  She had a wealth of knowledge about food and seasoning and such that is gone and lost to me know.  So, as those aromas and foods trigger memories, perhaps I’ll pull out of those memories some tidbit from her said long ago that will help me as I endeavor to make salt free taste good.

Treasure the people in your life, for we all know someday they will be gone.  Right now, Mama Rooster is cooking up a storm for the Heavenly Host and I bet they just love her chocolate and coconut pies!!!  Lucky dogs.


Hospitals can kill ya

Old Rooster had to be admitted to the hospital the night before Thanksgiving.  What it was is not the reason behind this post, merely establishing setting.  And he was treated and released after 4 days.  Observation was important.

Anyway….. While there we both told everyone that he was on a low sodium diet, uber low.  The hospital failed in two ways, and set the Old Rooster back to square one with his sodium levels and bloating.  No one would listen that he should not have the sodium chloride bag attached to his IV.  No one listened that he could only have a diet of 500-1000 mg of sodium per day.

Oh, it drove me crazy; the girl delivering his meals from the kitchen would reply, “its only 2g of sodium in this diet”  Um, there are 1000mg in 1g, so that is DOUBLE what he should get.  So he stopped eating anything they brought that he knew was loaded.  Tried to order things that we knew weren’t.  Unfortunately, his physician that put him on the low sodium diet was away.

He came home terribly bloated despite best efforts…

The purpose behind sharing this with you is to remind you that you must be aware of everything being given to you whether through your IV or diet.  There were times his mom was in the hospital and they were putting potassium in her IV bag and Old Rooster was there and called their attention to the fact that potassium could kill her.  They actually argued!  Ended up flushing something through the IV to get the potassium out.

Be careful.  You are working so hard to stay healthy, don’t let someone undermine all your efforts and cause harm.


Thansgiving: trial and errors, and hospitals

Thanksgiving was, more than years past, the most stressful time of my entire year.

First, trying to duplicate my MIL’s most wonderful dressing sodium free/low sodium was a success and a failure.  The success was in the form of a perfect outcome in appearance and texture; the failure was in the taste.  I had all the ingredients set at either low sodium or no sodium.  I made the rolls and cornbread from scratch so that I could eliminate all sodium from them.  I had the low sodium chicken broth and drippings from my unseasoned, roasted turkey.  The herbs, celery and onion, even a no sodium cream of mushroom soup (recipe calls for cream of chicken, but can’t find that low sodium).  Followed by my SIL’s instructions that it should resemble soupy oatmeal when all ingredients mixed together and baked til golden brown and slightly firm.    It came out beautifully as did the turkey.  Nice and moist……  Test run for Thanksgiving dinner was made about a week before the food fest with family on Black Friday.    See…









Looked wonderful and smelled wonderful.  Taste? EPIC FAIL!!!  Even with herbs and poultry seasoning and broth, low sodium as it was, no flavor whatsoever.  In thinking over what could be done differently, I decided that the next pan of dressing to be made for Thanksgiving dinner would have low sodium breads that I would still make from scratch, the low sodium  chicken broth and regular cream of chicken soup.   Plus, more of the herbs, celery and onion because when you are cooking without salt, you need to increase the other seasonings.  By volume, the sodium in all the ingredients should still be low on a per serving basis.

Alas, the next batch wasn’t made as we never made it to the family dinner.  Old Rooster ended up in the  hospital night before Thanksgiving.  And that began a whole new set of problems that added to the stress of Thanksgiving 2012.  And not just because he was in the hospital (he’s fine and was only there 4 days), but because of what happened, healthwise, at the hospital….. But that’s a story for another post.

So, next attempt shall be postponed and prepared for Easter dinner.  No ham; either chicken or turkey will be roasted for that.