Connie A Thompson

Category Archives: Sunday Dinner

Red White and Blue Fireworks Cake

10432116_10205764596265816_6728605159903548004_nMy Mom loved the Fourth of July. One of my earliest memories is of her holding my hand and helping me hold a sparkler. We wrote my name in the air. I marveled at the sparks and the smoke they left behind. I’m sure there were other fireworks, but it is the sparkler that I remember.

Each year she would invite us all to her house. There would be burgers, hot dogs, and all the usual cookout foods. There was always a dessert fitting the holiday theme. It often involved blueberries and strawberries.

This year as I was looking around Pinterest, I found the cake I knew my mother would have baked if she were still here. I pinned it. I knew I would make it.

Even though it is the fifth of July, the family will come together today and I’ll serve the Red White and Blue Fireworks cake. I know the red is really pink. I should have used more red food coloring, but I’m still tickled with it. I know the grandkids are going to love it.

Today for dinner, I’m taking it easy. It is taco day. I know grandmother would get a good laugh out of it, but I had two of the three grandkids yesterday. I’m quite thankful I had my babies when I was younger and had more energy.

Sunday Dinner: Kindness

512px-Flag-map_of_South_Carolina.svgMy mother loved all holidays, but especially birthdays. When my nephew, Zachary was five, he loved Spongebob Squarepants. Said nephew is now an adult and Spongebob is still adored by many children including my grandkids.

Mom found one of those character pans that was all the rage and decided to make her grandson a birthday cake. It looked simple. Use a star tip and fill in with the appropriate icing color. I’m not sure what she did to the icing, but it wasn’t firm and the stars began to dissolve into one another. It was pitiful, but to my nephew, it was the best birthday cake ever.

I tend to get caught up with my own perfectionism. I like things to be done a certain way. I like them to look a certain way. At the time, I thought my mom should have thrown the cake out and started again. My mom hesitated when she presented  it to him. I saw the excitement in a five-year old’s eyes. It was a Spongebob Squarepants cake and it was for his birthday.

It isn’t always about being perfect. It’s about doing the best you can.

I’m a South Carolina native. I was horrified to hear of the Charleston shootings. Forgiveness is the most difficult thing to give and the yet the families of the victims stood up one by one and gave forgiveness. I applaud them. They set the standard for what could have been a volatile situation. People came together in love, honor, and compassion.

This weekend people have painted their social media profiles blue and encouraged one another to perform nine acts of kindness in honor of those who died. Wouldn’t it be great if acts of kindness turned into a way of life? My prayers go out to those affected by this tragedy.

At Sunday dinner, my family and I will celebrate my nephew, Ethan’s birthday. I’ve made a Red Devil cake and one of his favorite meals, barbecue chicken. Thank goodness he’s too old for a Spongebob Squarepants cake.

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Sunday Dinner: No Cooking Today

 Usually at the time of morning, I’m putting the macaroni and cheese in the oven. Dessert is ready. Green beans are simmering and peeled potatoes wait for the heat. Grandboys play with bowls and wooden spoons nearby.

But today, I rest. My husband and I have taken a much needed weekend getaway. We woke to birds singing. Sitting on the porch, we felt the cool breeze pass over us and watched as the leaves of trees swayed and the water of the nearby river rippled. The sun beams, but the air doesn’t have the mugginess of home that comes with the approaching summer.

Next week is Father’s Day and our anniversary. We chose to celebrate our anniversary a little early. Last night we enjoyed a delicious dinner at Lucia’s. Afterwards we sat on the porch as lightning bugs made their sparkling appearance. My husband shared that the first time he saw fireflies, he thought he was imagining things until reality set in and he realized what he was seeing. He’s from California and it was new to him.

Sometimes we need to pause from all of life’s busyness and experience the beauty of the world we live in.

Next week I’ll be back in the kitchen preparing family favorites and celebrating the fathers in my life: my dad, husband, and brothers. My brother loves to say it is the best day ever. I might even make his favorite, fried okra.

Sunday Dinner: Naomi’s Legacy

Mary "Naomi" Goudelock 1886 - 1958

Mary “Naomi” Goudelock
1886 – 1958

Every year my grandmother and mother would plant gardens. They were usually small. Grandmother’s fit in a bricked off area that had once been the foundation for a coal house. What is a coal house? Many years ago their house was heated by coal. There were small grates in every room that looked like small fireplaces.

My grandparents eventually upgraded to a gas furnace, and there was no longer a need for coal. The building, which was about 6′ x 6′ was torn down, but the foundation remained. The floor had been dirt. During the fall and winter months, grandmother would put all the leftover food scraps in the dirt creating a compost pile. Come spring she would plant tomatoes, cucumbers, okra, green beans, and anything that suited her.

I loved to go pick the tomatoes. Grandmother would often slice a tomato, put a thin layer of Duke’s mayonnaise on white bread and a little salt and pepper. She said as a girl, lunch in the summer was often a fresh vegetable from the garden and a leftover biscuit from lunch.
My grandmother, Laura was born in 1918 and grew up on the mill hill. Her parents had a cow, chickens, and a garden. She claimed her mother wasn’t much of a cook, but she was an excellent gardener.

Her mother, Naomi was stern, but kind. If someone was passing through and asked for food, she always gave them what she could. Young Laura watched these travelers pass by other houses before stopping at theirs. She wondered how they knew. Her mother claimed that the travelers left a sign indicating that their house would offer food. Young Laura combed the yard in search of the mysterious welcome sign, but never found one.

When I was ten, I sat on the porch one day with my grandmother. A young woman toting a baby on her hip lumbered off the bus and walked up the street. The baby whined; they were both drenched in sweat. Grandmother called out to her inviting her up to the shade of the front porch. The young woman not much more than a girl looked around trying to decide if she should stop. The baby cried out, and she trudged up the steps. She took a seat on the metal glider, the baby perched on her knees. The baby became mesmerized by her own toes painted with pink nail polish. She babbled. I continued reading my book as I if I wasn’t paying attention to them. I had long before mastered the art of having my nose in a book and seeming oblivious while watching everything.

Grandmother returned with juice and shortbread cookies for the baby. She handed the woman a tall glass of iced tea. They talked about her baby, and my grandmother talked about when her children were babies. When their tea glasses were empty, they sat for a little longer and then the mother tucked her sleeping child on her hip and picked up her bag. Her steps were a little lighter than when she first trudged up the street.

I saw my great grandmother, Naomi’s legacy living on through her daughter. Kindness to others.

Today will be the first Sunday dinner without my son and daughter in law living nearby. Some family members are away at the beach. We’ll have a small group today rather than the usual crowd. Both my grandsons will be here. I know this is a day they won’t specifically remember, but I know that Sunday dinners will be something they will always carry in their heart.

Sunday Dinner: A Legacy of Love

Sunday Dinner 2000

Sunday Dinner 2000

When my grandmother died, the pastor preached a beautiful funeral about how my grandmother had been a true Proverbs 31 woman, “worth far more than rubies…speaks with wisdom, and faithful instruction is on her tongue…Her children arise and call her blessed…Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” As I sat there with tears in my eyes reflecting on the wonderful woman my grandmother had been, I heard the preacher call my name. He called me out in the sanctuary and urged me to continue what my grandmother had started, a tradition of Sunday dinner with all the family gathered around.

My grandmother’s house was small, maybe 1,000 square foot, two bedrooms, and everything was tiny. To increase counter space, there was a special board with a notch for the faucet placed over the sink. The food was set out buffet style. We used real dishes, not fine China; grandmother preferred Correlle since they wouldn’t break. The silverware didn’t match. There was one special fork with a black handle that everyone fought over. The thickness of the biscuits depended upon how many were expected. Grandmother bore six children. She had ten grandchildren and then, of course, the great grands began to come.
She was quiet and strong. She could be stern. She would speak her mind when necessary. While she usually deferred to her husband, she would put him in his place when necessary. She went to church every Sunday, and she saw that we went too.

Grandmother's House

Grandmother’s House

When the pastor called me out that day, I felt an overwhelming desire to run. Before my mother passed, she told me to continue cooking Sunday dinner and bringing grandmother to it. I obeyed. I had planned to give it up, but the pastor called me out. It seemed a sign from God. Inwardly I grumbled, but I obeyed.

It is a lot of work: planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning. I enjoyed it, but I didn’t understand until my grandson was born.

I wanted to be called Grandmother like she had been. My kids vetoed that. My brother threatened me with Granny. Daniel decided one day that I was Mamaw, and that was that. For him, I keep apples, bananas, blueberries, and just about any fruit will do. He loves cake, but only when it has lots of frosting. He’ll push his plate back and with his Southern drawl announce that he wants cake. He now has a little brother, and I love watching them play together.

My mother always told me I wouldn’t understand motherhood until I became a mother. I think being a grandparent is the same way.
Today is a sad Sunday dinner. My son and his bride of six years are moving away. Only 3 1/2 hours, but a little too far to make dinner every week. I am proud of them. They have been working towards this goal for years, and it is the perfect opportunity for them. I can still miss them though.

We’ll be celebrating my niece’s fifteenth birthday. She is excited about getting her permit. For dessert, she wants brownies and Oreo icecream. You only turn fifteen once. I love that I have gotten to watch her and her brother grow up. He’ll turn thirteen next month.

I am thankful that my family takes an hour or so each week to stop and come together to enjoy a meal together.

Sunday Dinner: Peach Cobbler

peachcobbler

When my husband and I first met, cooking was a major topic of conversation. I was surprised when he claimed to make an awesome peach cobbler. I thought cobbler was reserved for the South. How could a California man possibly know how to make cobbler? His mother taught him. She’s not Southern either. She’s originally from Kansas.

Today, my husband has offered to make dessert. Peaches are one of South Carolina’s primary exports. If you’ve ever been to South Carolina, perhaps you’ve passed by the giant peach water tower.

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Vincent Family Peach Cobbler 

4 C. pealed and sliced peaches.

Mix with 1/4 C. sugar and sprinkle cinnamon over the top.

Place in a 9″ pie pan and dot with pieces of butter.

Topping:

1C Bisquick

1/4 C. sugar

1 egg

Mix together and put on top of peaches. Sprinkle 2 or 3 tablespoons of water over the topping mixture and bake 25 – 30 minutes at 400 degrees. Top should be nice and brown.

Chuck also left a couple of the peach pits because his Grandma always said that it adds flavor.

Sunday Dinner: Happy Birthday Ethan

 

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Maybe his mother is right and he does need a haircut.

Born on the first of July. On Tuesday my nephew will turn twelve. He is the youngest son of my mother’s youngest son. All his life he has heard, “You look just like your Daddy.” And he does. Auburn curls, brown eyes, freckles, and extremely skinny. He isn’t short like his father. He is tall like his mother’s family. He caught up to his older sister quickly. He’s a funny kid. When he was about two, he learned he could make people laugh. He continues to be hilarious.

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At Ethan’ request, we’ll celebrate with BBQ chicken and orange cupcakes with orange icing (also his uncle’s favorite). I’ll also be serving stewed potatoes, green beans, macaroni and cheese, cornbread, and fried okra.

Celebrating Our First Anniversary

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No Sunday dinner today. We’re off celebrating our anniversary.

I thought I would be alone. I had given up hope of finding someone to share my life with. I had accepted it to be my reality, and then I met Chuck.

My first thought was that he had kind green eyes. my second thought was Oh Lord, a cowboy hat?

We met on a dating website. We talked for two weeks before we met in person. He had to pass my tests: double dates with my friends, Sunday dinner with my family, and answering my long list of incessant questions. He claims it was the longest job interview of his life.

He supports me. He encourages me, and I try to do the same for him. He’s wonderful with our grandchildren.

Yesterday, we went to Andalusia, the home of Flannery O’Connor. My senior thesis is about the use of place in the works of Southern women authors. We toured her home, sat on the porch, looked at the peacocks, viewed the milking barn, and spent a small fortune in the gift shop. In my mind, her stories came to life in rolling visions as I considered “The Enduring Chill,” “A View of the Woods,” and “Greenleaf,” just to name a few.

On our drive down, I read “A Good Man is Hard to Find” to Chuck. He was surprised by her sense of humor and the dark ending.

I’m thankful to be married to such a wonderful man. To the first of many more anniversaries.

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Sunday Dinner: Father’s Day 2014

Dad29

Years ago my Dad dubbed Father’s Day as the best holiday. My brothers love to agree with him. Don’t be alarmed, they aren’t misogynists, just great teasers, that’s just the way they are.

My Dad became a father for the first time at 18. I remember when my youngest brother was born and my father was 36. I thought he was ancient. He had no business having another baby. I can only laugh at how perspectives shift as we age.

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I have Dad’s customary gift of golf balls. I once tried to surprise him with what I considered a more thoughtful and sentimental gift. I could see he was thankful, but he missed his golf balls. My Dad is extremely pragmatic, quiet, and slow to anger. He was always the calm parent. Hearing him say I’m disappointed in your actions was worse than any punishment. He always encouraged me to go to school. It took me a while, but I finally did it. Last year when I received my degree, I was happy to have my husband and family there. I was so pleased to have my Daddy there to celebrate that milestone in my life.

Today I’ll be serving one of my father’s favorites, white chocolate macadamia nut cookies. My sweet husband, Chuck volunteered to man the grill and we’ll be serving hamburgers, hot dogs, baked beans, corn, chips, watermelon, and also banana pudding. I went a little crazy with desserts today.

I hope you have a wonderful Father’s Day!

Sunday Dinner: Elizabeth’s Birthday

10371506_10202750036051078_951464394170597344_nWe celebrate another birthday today, Elizabeth is fourteen. When Elizabeth was a baby, my brother called her “Miss Serious.” She would stare at you through those brown eyes. She always seemed to be pondering something important and couldn’t be bothered with baby talk.

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I’m not sure who began the birthday picture traditions, but my aunt would force the birthday person in front of the cake and gather all the children around. We’d sing, she would take pictures, and the birthday person would blow out the candles. This picture was of my Mom’s birthday. Elizabeth is the baby sitting on her lap.

Today we’ll be having a Mexican fiesta: tacos, taco salads, quesadillas, corn, and refried beans. We’ll have brownie sundaes to celebrate Elizabeth’s 14th birthday.