My starring role on stage came early: fifth grade at Mize Elementary School, Etoyle Glisson’s Class. Mrs. Glisson her very own self wrote the play, “I Wish I Were Single Again,” which starred my “boyfriend” of the time. Harold was the quintessential Boy Next Door, and he really did live “next door” to my family’s dairy farm in rural Smith County, Mississippi.
No surprise that he got the starring role: without doubt, his dark black hair and blue eyes plus robust body earned him “most handsome” status. And he was also just plain nice. We rode the school bus together, started piano lessons together, got the mumps together. In real life, I think I had him.
But on stage, I competed with girlfriend classmates to catch his eye as Harold “interviewed” us prospective brides. My strong suit, ominous though I never then recognized it as such, touted my culinary capabilities. Strolling in from stage left to Harold’s prominent position center stage, I wore a frilly new apron my mother had sewn and carried a cup-shaped mixing bowl with a solid handle, one unbroken egg inside, and an egg beater in my right hand.
Approaching the desired suitor, I winked and confided to the audience, “Everybody knows that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach!” Great laughs from the audience, but no cigar from the could-have-been boyfriend. Nope; he chose the cutest little red-haired girl in the world. And I went back to the kitchen for more practice.
In the 50-plus years since that inauspicious start, my culinary skills have improved more than a little, and to this day, I court best from the kitchen. A good ol’ boy I dated in the 70’s was amazed that the rice I cooked to accompany Sweet-And-Sour-Sausage did not stick to itself. Another friend said if he’d known the sweet cream I used for Bourbon Milk Punch could taste that good he would never have left the farm. R. Livingston feasted on many char-grilled chicken breasts during our courtship but firmly announced post-wedding and after dubbing me MizrizBaboo that he would never again eat another grilled chicken tit, and he did not. Current man-of-my-heart suggests we’ll dine in my widow’s kitchen instead of buying $550 per couple tickets to an upcoming fund-raising dinner – says the decision has nothing to do with the price of admission and everything to do with my Crawfish Pie and Bread Pudding With Whiskey Sauce.
Oh, how I do love to cook. And eat. And drink. And not gain more but actually lose excess pounds. That’s what love’s got to do with it. Loving to cook and eat but, more, also loving to be healthy and – dare I say it? – hot as a quasi-cougar once more on the dating stage.
As the co-author for what could become the go-to source for families who want to ensure heart-health for parents and children, You Can Fix The Fat From Childhood – & Other Heart Disease Risks, Too, and also as a “poster child” via VIP Jackson for Enhanced Wellness, I choose to cook healthy fare for myself and all guests who dine with me.
Though I myself will start an intensive, three-week dietary detoxification program tomorrow, I’m pleased to offer you a favorite vegetable dish that can serve as the main course with a great-greens-salad or as a side for such a low-fat protein as grilled or baked boneless-and-skinless chicken breast. Many variations exist and I most often clean, chop, and toss in the ingredients handy from my fridge, but here’s the River Roads Recipes II version for Ratatouille – thanks to contributor Mrs. Oran Ritter. This is the basic from which I vary.
1 medium eggplant [she says peeled; I don’t]
2 zucchini, cut into ½-inch slices
2 teaspoons [sea] salt
½ to 1 cup olive oil
2 onions, thinly sliced
2 green [bell] peppers, cut into thin strips
2 to 3 fresh garlic cloves [I use more], pressed
3 tomatoes, peeled and diced [I use canned, diced]
Black pepper to taste
¼ teaspoon basil, fresh if possible
½ teaspoon bouquet garni or ¼ teaspoon thyme
½ teaspoon Italian seasoning or ¼ teaspoon parsley
½ teaspoon McCormick’s Salad Supreme seasoning
Toss eggplant and zucchini with 1 teaspoon salt and let stand 30 minutes. Drain and dry on paper towels. Heat ¼ to ½ cup olive oil in large skillet and lightly brown eggplant and zucchini slices. Remove with slotted spoon and set aside. Add remaining oil to skillet; cook onions and green peppers until tender. Stir in garlic. Put tomatoes on top; cover and cook 5 minutes. Gently stir in eggplant, zucchini, and remaining seasonings. Simmer, covered, until desired tenderness. Uncover and cook 5 minutes, basting with juices from bottom of pan. Serve hot or cold. Serves 8 to 10.
Let me know how you like it!
You are cordially invited by the She Writes Southern Writers
DATES: February 8-12
A handful of our ladies are going to serve up recipes they love to serve to loved ones, from romantic repasts to family favorites :
February 8: Patricia Neely-Dorsey – Peach cobbler
February 9: Sally Whitney – Pecan pie, and scalloped oysters
February 10: NancyKay Wessman – Ratatouille
February 11: Amy Neftzger – “Broken” Rice Krispie Hearts
February 12: Trisha Faye – Dr. Pepper Pork Chops and Pecan Broccoli.
We’re stopping the tour on February 12 to give y’all time to buy ingredients so you can try them too!
WIN THE “GRAND TOUR” PRIZE
One person will be picked at random from all the comments left during the tour to be eligible to win the “Grand Tour” prize donated by author/editor Zetta Brown. With every comment you leave during the tour you increase your chances!
Zetta will be offering a food-inspired “surprise” prize to one person who leaves a “thought-felt” comment during the tour. This means the comment needs to have some “meat” to it. It cannot be just a one word comment like “Great” or “Yum” or “Thanks” or “Great! Thanks for the yummy recipe!” To receive the prize, when chosen, the winner must provide their legal name and address. It will NOT be shared with anyone or put on any mailing list. It’s only to facilitate shipping the prize.
Good luck, have fun, and have a Happy Valentine’s Day