Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Chasing Fires

Heading out to rent a movie Saturday evening, we Ken and I saw smoke coming from the downtown area. My first reaction was to go get my camera and follow the smoke. Unfortunately for me, Ken was driving, but after much pleading and questioning his sense of adventure, we were off to find the fire.

A warehouse downtown was burning again. I only got a couple of decent pictures as I had to snap them as we were driving by.

In my next life, I'll carry my camera constantly and chase fires and storms.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Making Pudding

In the midst of a hurried week, I slowed down long enough to make a banana pudding. What began as a simple gift for a friend's child turned into an afternoon of slowing down, pondering, and remembering for me.

Homemade banana pudding is not something you throw together or make in a hurry. It's too easy to mess up the pudding, you just have to take your sweet time. And that's just what I did. I slowed down for the first time all week and enjoyed what I was doing (of course, that was after spending the first five minutes wondering what I was thinking when I said I would make two banana puddings in the midst of a crazy day).

As I placed the vanilla wafers, sliced the bananas, and constantly stirred the pudding, my mind flashed back to my grandma making pudding in her kitchen. I remembered how much care she would take slicing the bananas, making sure they weren't too thick. She placed the wafers in the dish - no broken ones please. She took her time cooking the pudding so it wouldn't scorch and she took great care with the meringue. I remember her pudding was delicious and beautiful, but mostly I just remember her hands placing those bananas carefully on top of each vanilla wafer.

As I stood in my kitchen that afternoon, pausing to remember my grandma, I realized that what was meant to be a gift for a friend had become a gift for me - time. I took the time to ponder a sweet memory, the time to enjoy making the pudding, the time to take great care.

And I must tell you that the gift was a hit and the child's face lit up like a Christmas tree when she realized that it was homemade banana pudding and it was for her. The expression on her face and the hug that followed were the best thank you I have received in a while.

So per the request of her mother I am including the recipe.

By the way, I made two puddings that day at the request of my kids. It's their favorite too.

Banana Pudding

1 cup sugar
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp butter (not margarine)
4 egg yolks
box of vanilla wafers
4-5 ripe bananas


4 egg whites (room temperature)
5 tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
1/2 tsp vanilla

Preheat oven to 375.

Line bottom of dish with wafers (I use an oval or round casserole dish, for 13x9 size, double the recipe).

Slice bananas and cover to keep from browning.

Combine sugar, flour, salt in bowl, and stir to mix well. Set aside. In separate bowl, combine milk and vanilla.

In heavy saucepan, beat egg yolks well. Over medium heat, add flour mixture to egg yolks alternately with milk and vanilla, stirring constantly. Bring to gentle boil. When pudding begins to thicken, add butter, continuing to stir until it reaches a nice pudding consistency. Remove from heat.

Place layer of bananas on top of wafers. Pour half the pudding over the bananas. Repeat with another layer of wafers, bananas, and the remainder of the pudding.

Meringue -

Beat egg whites at high speed until they form soft peaks. Add cram of tartar. Continue to beat at high speed adding sugar one tablespoon at a time until stiff peaks form. Fold vanilla into meringue. Spread the meringue over the pudding, sealing at sides of the dish.

Bake in preheated oven at 375 for 12-15 minutes until meringue browns. (I have never baked it this long. About eight minutes is usually good.)

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

More Spring Wonders

Another great thing about spring is that we can explore the yard for signs of its wonders - baby birds, nests, caterpillars, ladybugs, earthworms, and turtles. And a turtle is just what was driving Zoe (our dog) crazy this afternoon.

Zoe is fortunate this turtle didn't get a hold of her nose. This turtle came right up in the driveway and proceeded to snap at Zoe while she was barking. The turtle didn't seem afraid of her at all. One of the kids even remarked that it was actually moving faster than you would expect. fear and marching directly towards its destination...I'm thinking there is a lesson in there.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Home is Good

Some time ago during a particularly crazy week, I made a comment to a friend who was also having one of those weeks that home is good even when it's hard. While those words were really meant to encourage her along the path she has chosen, they keep coming back to me on a regular basis as I ponder the things that are good about home.

There are days that being part of a family just couldn't get any better and days when I wonder just what I signed up for. There are days when the rhythm just clicks along with perfect timing and days when chaotic doesn't even come close to describing the day. There are days when my role as a wife and a parent (or a daughter and a sister) are simple and easy and days when the role is difficult to define and the job is just plain hard.

Yet, we move and breathe, live and love, laugh and cry together. Together we own it all - the good, the bad, and the ugly. When life is good, we celebrate together. When life isn't fair, we cry together. When gray days make us feel blue, there is someone to bring in the sunshine. When the work is hard, there is someone to cheer us on. When attitudes are ugly, there is someone to steer us back. When one falls down, there is someone to help us up. Alone it is hard to stand, but as a unit we can stand anything.

So even as I long for the days when the rhythm of our life is a steady beat, days when little people don't need constant reminders about everything, days when the house is in order and evenings that are calm and peaceful, I realize that the beat of our life is noisy, full of love and lots of reminders, often chaotic, but also full of sweet memories. More than anything, the rhythm is ours.

I know that whether the next day is picture perfect, insanely crazy, or somewhere in between, it will be our day. And I know that home is good even when it's hard.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Wonders of Spring Continued

Remember this? Well, look what we found today.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Great Picture

Every now and then you find yourself in the right place at the right time with your camera near by and here's what you get: