Connie A Thompson

Category Archives: Sunday Dinner

May Birthdays

IMG_0783We only have one May birthday in my family. My nephew came to us quite unexpectedly nineteen years ago yesterday. He was due in August. There were many stressful moments as we waited. He was so tiny and covered with downy hair. He remained in the hospital until around his due date. His parents were persistent following all the doctor’s recommendations. His Mom was meticulous and my nephew always exceeded every test. He was extremely smart. Doctors warned he might be short. The rest of the family is so it wasn’t a concern. At nineteen, he towers over his father. He visited from Canada a couple of weeks ago and we celebrated his birthday then. Today we’ll celebrate in his honor. My brother’s birthday is in April and he didn’t get his favorite, so today I’ll serve an orange cake with orange icing.

Yesterday was also my father’s in laws birthday. He passed away three years ago and I did not have the fortune of meeting him. When I first met my husband, he shared this story with me: http://normcrisp.blogspot.com/2011/08/chucks-last-fishing-trip.html?m=1

I lost my mom several years ago and this story touched me. Grieving is a universal language. While we don’t grieve the same, once you’ve lost someone, you have empathy for the loss others are enduring. Yesterday we watched Heaven Is For Real. I had read the book and I knew what to expect. I hoped my husband would find it comforting. He did.

Today I’ll serve pot roast with potatoes and carrots, macaroni and cheese, green beans, mashed potatoes, pinto beans, creamed corn, and rolls. We’ll spend time around the table having dinner, talking, and reminiscing. The grand babies will be here. Daniel will delight in the cake. Carson will be content in the arms of whoever is lucky to be holding him at the time. And I will be thankful for my husband and family.

When I was a child, I thought Sunday dinner to be such a chore for my mom and grandmother. It is a lot of work. I was up at 7 this morning putting the roast on and baking a cake. And I’ve come to understand that more than anything, it is a blessing which I am thankful for.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Family6Last night as we had dinner, I watched as mothers and daughters paraded in two by two. All I could think was I wish I could have dinner with my mother. We lost her eight years ago. The funny thing about grief is losing someone is like having an injury that seems to heal, you begin to believe there will be a scar, and then the wound reopens.

It was late April and I wanted to get my brother a birthday card. I walked into the card store and Mother’s Day assaulted me. Cards, gifts, and displays about Mother’s Day were everywhere. I walked out and I’ve always avoided the card store and card aisles from April until after Mother’s Day. I usually get my brother’s card in March.

Yesterday I went to help my daughter. She has three children and the youngest is only three weeks old. Sleep comes in only brief stretches of time and it isn’t always possible to sleep when the baby sleeps especially with a two-year-old and a seven-year-old. I brought the makings for breakfast and we had blueberry pancakes, eggs, and bacon. “It’s been a long time since you made me breakfast, Mama,” my daughter said as she ate her pancakes (sans blueberries since she isn’t a fan).

After breakfast, Daniel and I went to the store in search of a Mother’s Day gift for his Mom. Small displays of cards stood in the aisles. I wouldn’t be able to work up to it, Mother’s Day was everywhere. In that moment, I didn’t think of my mother, I thought of myself. I remembered those first few months of motherhood – the lack of sleep, the overwhelming fatigue, the insecurity and anxiety, and the worry.

How was it possible that I was now responsible for a tiny human being? I did the only thing I could think of, I began to imitate my mother. Somewhere along the way, I became a Mom.

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I helped my grandson select a card. Of course he chose one with Elmo. He held it proudly. He held it close, and then he licked it. “For Mommy,” he said giving it to me.

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I watch my daughter struggle, and I remind her sleep will come. The baby will grow. He will sleep through the night. Of course now she knows the great secret, you need sleep because the child becomes mobile. You spend the next several years chasing after, scolding, and attempting to keep him unscathed. At least this time she’ll have a little help as the youngest grows. Siblings are your greatest allies, friends, and enemies.

Last night, one of my brothers posted about missing our Mom. When I think of her, I think of her smile. I think of her laugh. And while I am sad that she is no longer with us, I am thankful that I was blessed to call her Mom.

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Being a Mom is more than giving birth. I’ve acquired two daughters over the years. One through marriage and the other through circumstance. There is a great secret that all mothers know, your love for one doesn’t lessen with the addition of another. Love grows and expands. There is always room for more in your heart.

hp photosmart 720Today we’ll have Sunday dinner, continuing the tradition begun by generations of my predecessors. My sweet husband is will be cooking hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill. I’ll serve Grandmother’s applesauce cake for dessert.

Last week we lost a great woman, my mother’s sister. My aunt always had smile on her face. She made sure to send cards for your birthday. There is so much I could say, but I’ll save that for another day.

If your mother is here, cherish those moments and tell her what she means to you. If she’s passed, remember her. Today, I’ll be cherishing memories while making new ones.

 

A Simple Sunday Dinner

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Loves Chocolate

I always loved it when my Grandmother made brownies for dessert. You could smell them the minute you walked through the door since she always waited until Sunday morning to bake them. In Sunday school, I could still recall their welcoming beckon and I hoped there would be leftovers since we often came back to her house on Mondays for those.

I now realize that while they were a treat for us, they were an easy dessert for her to make. She favored using just regular boxed brownies. Add a little water, oil, eggs and then stir until mixed. Thirty minutes or so later they are ready. Dessert is done.

Cooking Sunday dinner actually begins the day before as I walk through the grocery store gathering all the ingredients. If the vegetable stand is open, I go there first. I’m waiting anxiously for that first batch of homegrown tomatoes, okra, and corn.

Some prep work is done on Saturday. On Sunday morning, the cooking begins. Potatoes have to be peeled. Macaroni noodles have to be cooked. The meat has to be prepared. It has taken me a while to understand the timing. The first few weeks I did it all myself, things weren’t all ready when they should have been. I’m sorry to say I never really paid much attention to the timing. My Mom picked up where Grandmother left off. She could be like a drill sergeant dictating what needed to be done. And when everyone arrived, the dishes began to appear on the make-shift sideboard, which was a specially cut wooden board my Uncle Buck fashioned that went over the sink and counter allowing all the dishes to be set out buffet style. I’m lucky in that I have a little more counter space than she did.

Today I’m lucky. My sweet husband, Chuck is doing most of the cooking — burgers and hotdogs on the grill. I’m in charge of the baked beans, corn on the cob, hash brown casserole (pregnant daughter’s request), and making sure tomatoes are sliced, onions are chopped, and all the condiments are ready.

Sometimes I wonder what Grandmother would have thought about our variations on Sunday dinner, but I know ultimately that it was the opportunity to gather and spending time with children and grandchildren. And when my grandson comes running through the door telling me he is ready to “Eat, eat,” I am so thankful for the legacy these wonderful women bestowed upon me.

Snappin Beans and Washin Dishes

Holly and Connie

Holly and Connie

It was Saturday evening and my cousin, Holly and I were visiting our Grandmother. I think I must have been around five-years-old. It was rare to have time away from my parents and siblings.

We sat on Grandmother’s porch snapping beans. You would hold a green bean, snap both ends off discarding them and if the green bean happened to be exceptionally long, you would break it into smaller pieces.

Grandmother told us stories about her childhood. She had a little sister, Sarah Jessie, who died from an illness at two-years-old. I remember how Grandmother’s eyes glistened as she told stories about Sarah Jessie.

We helped Grandmother frost the cake for the following day’s Sunday dinner. I think we ate more chocolate frosting than we put on the cake.

Grandmother taught us to wash dishes. (For her, wash was pronounced warsh.) We were delighted to put our hands in the soapy water and then rinse the clean dishes. We loved washing dishes and she laughed telling us that it wouldn’t always be so.

For Sunday dinner, we’ll be having hamburgers with mushroom gravy, macaroni and cheese, green beans, mashed potatoes, creamed corn, rolls, and strawberry cake.

Sunday Dinner: Peep Cake

Peep_Sunflower_CakeMy mother loved all holidays, dessert, and sunflowers and when I saw this cake, I knew I had to make it. Mom adored those yellow marshmallow Peeps. I know you know the kind I’m talking about. The woman had four children and I don’t think a one of us cared for them, but every year without fail, we would find them in our Easter baskets.

I came across this last year. Don’t you just love Pinterest? I know my daughters and I do. This is so easy and great dessert you can serve as long as you can find the Peeps. So before they all go missing from the shelves to sit in Easter baskets, go out and get you a few.

You’ll need: A box cake (any flavor, but my family loves chocolate, chocolate frosting, chocolate chips, and around 18 to 20 Peeps – they come in packages of 5).

Bake the cake as directed.

Frost it (you can used a serrated knife to give you a straight workspace, but I usually flip it over an frost the bottoms).

Add Peeps (their heads should be facing inwards and you can leave them together).

Place chocolate chips in the center. I’ve seen people take their time and meticulously place each one and others just toss them in. Your choice.

With the sunflower Peep cake, I’ll be serving Barbecue chicken, macaroni and cheese, green beans, creamed corn, mashed potatoes, and I might just make my brother some fried okra (frozen since it’s not in season yet).

On Cooking My First Sunday Dinner

One of the first Sunday Dinners at my home. Grandmother with two of her great-grandchildren.

One of the first Sunday Dinners at my home. Grandmother with two of her great-grandchildren.

It wasn’t much different for me than it had been most of my life. I got home from church in time to make the cornbread and assist my Mom in preparing dinner. Grandmother moved from her home to live with my mother and stepfather. She needed daily assistance and living alone was no longer an option. Mom claimed her house was too far away for anyone to come to and informed me we would now meet at my house.

My Saturdays were filled with cleaning and a trip to the grocery store. I warned my teens to clean their rooms. They did as they usually did and shut the door. My Mom and Grandmother got onto them.

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Decorative plates that first hung in Grandmother’s kitchen.

photo 1-3 Since I would now be hosting Sunday dinner, I had many of Grandmother’s things: pots, pans, casserole dishes, bowls, etc. I’m sorry to say that most of them didn’t survive a house full of teenagers. There are three things that survived, two plates and a biscuit cutter.

Grandmother's biscuit cutter

Grandmother’s biscuit cutter

There we all were on that first Sunday, a different place, but it became the new home of Sunday dinner. It isn’t the location; it is the people.

At my Grandmother’s funeral, I thought that’s a tradition I can let go of for awhile. I considered convincing my family to meet a restaurant. In the midst of my grandmother’s funeral, the preacher sought me out. He spoke of Sunday dinner and what it meant to my grandmother. He challenged me to continue her tradition.

Seeing Life Through the Eyes of a Two-Year-Old

Today, I’m not cooking Sunday dinner. Most everyone had plans, and my father encouraged me to take a break from cooking. I’m not sure exactly what I’ll do today, but I plan to enjoy myself. I’m sure at some point, I’ll see that special two-year-old, who brings so much delight to my life. I thought about how he views the world.

Riding A Stuffed Animal

Riding A Stuffed Animal

There are so many things that make my grandson laugh. At two, he knows I’m there, but he still delights when I cover my face and then call out, “Where’s Grandma?”

Chasing him through the house saying, “I’m gonna get you.”

Tickling. Obvious, I know. He loves it. He’s two.

Pulling him across the floor by his ankles.

Stickers.

Playing.

photo 4-3At two, he has the ability to live in the moment. As adults, we forget to do this. There are so many demands, imposed and/or self-imposed.

Sometimes we should stop and look at the world like a two-year-old. Enjoy the moment. Quit obsessing over what we need to do. Put away our smart phones. Turn off the television. Experience the world. And enjoy the company of friends and family.

 

Do you cook out? Grill? Barbecue?

Here in the South, or maybe it is just my family, but we call it cooking out. It usually involves a nice day, and today we have blissful sunny temperatures in the low 70s. It also involves a grill, ours is charcoal, and freshly patted out hamburger patties and hot dogs. Sometimes we do chicken or steak, but when feeding the clan, it’s usually burgers and hot dogs. For my nephew, my husband is sweet and grills is hotdogs on a layer of tin foil to keep them from getting grill lines and burning. I know. Picky kids, but the family is full of them (some adults too). I can’t complain too much because I was one of them. I empathize and it’s my house, so I’ll accommodate their likes and dislikes when I can.

photo-12My sweet hubby prepared the grill and cooked the hamburgers and hot dogs to perfection.

We had corn on the cob, baked beans, and potato chips. For dessert, I served chocolate chip cookies and Dad’s favorite white chocolate macadamia nut cookies.

We never cooked out at my grandmother’s for Sunday dinner. And I never remember my grandfather even working the grill. This included when he had his own restaurant, now called Ike’s Korner Grill. My cousin, Neil and his wife, Angela run it now. They’re still serving hand patted burgers and chili made from Grandmother’s secret recipe. It was so secret that when my uncle asked Grandmother to write it down for him, she couldn’t. She just knew how to make it. My uncles spent a couple of days in the kitchen with her, measuring out spices and watching the master cook until they had the recipe just right.

We had a great time today. I’m looking forward to this summer, when cooking out will include fresh locally grown tomatoes, corn, and watermelon.

Thanks for stopping by. Check back tomorrow for my review on the latest Sarah Addison Allen novel, Lost Lake.

Celebrating 25 Years of Amanda

Our first family photo

Our first family photo

This past Friday my daughter, my baby turned 25. How can that be? It just seems like she was in my arms, learning to walk, singing to Disney movies. When I woke after giving birth (they used to put you under for a c-section). I waited to hear if it was a boy or a girl. I had only had one ultrasound and it was too early to tell the sex of the baby. I hoped for a girl for I knew this would be my last pregnancy. I cried when they told me it was in fact a girl.

Having a daughter was never what I thought it would be. I imagined frilly dresses and doing her hair. Of course my daughter was and still is her own unique person. She rarely follows the crowd. She does things her own way, and she always has.

At 7, I took her to get her haircut. I thought I would let her have some input. I asked her how she wanted her hair done. “Blonde,” was her answer.

As a little girl, she loved playing with Barbies. Unfortunately, she didn’t care for them to be clothed. She had a vast Barbie nudist colony.

When she turned 13, I quickly became the dumbest person she knew. This phase would last quite a while. Shopping with her was awful. We never agreed on clothes. Not long ago as I shopped, I watched another mother and daughter going through a similar awful shopping experience. The teen kept rolling her eyes. The poor mother. I wanted to tell her that one day it will get better. That little girl that thought you had all the answers will one day return, but it will be a while.

My daughter dropped by yesterday after having pregnancy photos made. She’s scheduled to have a c-section in April. She had her hair and makeup done. She was so happy. I was shocked. It was almost like looking at my former self. She laughed and said, “Yeah I know, everyone says I look just like you.”

Today we’ll celebrate her 25th birthday. We’re having her favorites: baked ham and macaroni and cheese. I’ll also be serving green beans, pinto beans, mashed potatoes, and rolls. And of course we’ll be having birthday cake. Happy Birthday Sweetie!

 

Snow Cream, Snow Memories, and Snowbound

Last week as the snow began to fall, I had the pleasure of spending the day with my grandson. I love watching him experience new things.

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As kids, we couldn’t wait for the snow to stop hoping that the big hill over by Converse College would be covered in ice. The Thompsons were the only ones fortunate enough to have an actual sled, a gift from my grandfather (one my mother thought we would never use). A group of teenagers brought an old car hood one time. They slid down the great hill and veered off the road and down into the creek below. There was a trip to the emergency room for stitches and a broken collar bone. We weren’t on the car hood.

My husband is from California and has never had snow cream. Of course I had to make him some. He loved it.

1897913_10203140895113621_1117318578_n4 cups snow

1 cup milk

1/2 cup sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

With the past snow, I actually used 6 cups of snow.

I’ve had friends comment on their variations. Connie S. mixes her sugar with hot water and then lets the mixture cool. It gets rid of the gritty taste. My friend, Lisa likes to add cinnamon to hers.

Of course there is a great debate over the safety of eating snow. Hopefully a bowl a year won’t do any permanent damage. My mother always made us wait until the second snow. She claimed it was cleaner.

After three days of being snowbound, it seemed everyone in Spartanburg wanted out this weekend. We drove past the mall to a furniture store, a new bed is our Valentine’s present to one another, and we couldn’t believe all the traffic. It was worse than Christmas. We figured Saturday things would have calmed down some. We arrived at Longhorn for dinner at 5 p.m. only to be told the wait would be 1 1/2 hours. The food is good, but not good enough to wait that long. We’ll try again another week.