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Saturday, June 25, 2011

Holidays,good food, and liberty


As I was reading the question of the day “Do you plan to buy fireworks" my mind drifted back and to the days when we celebrated July 4th by popping firecrackers. Yes, we did the crazy things like blowing up ant beds, scaring the girls, doing other irresponsible things, but it only happened once or twice a year. I don't remember any burn bans, but we probably didn't have sufficient law enforcement to enforce it. When I got old enough to have my own family, we spent most of our 4th of July in other states that were vacationing in, so we just enjoyed the firework's spectacles at Disneyland, ballparks, or county fairs. In the last few years before I retired, we still owned a house close to the Community Center. Our house became the meeting place for my extended family to watch fireworks because my parents were becoming too old to host all the holiday events. I remember when the grand kids started giving a firework display to me maw and that gesture became a new family tradition, sometimes invoking jealousy in my children. I remember my daughter saying “how come you didn't give me that beautiful fireworks display?" There were plenty of firework displays to go around, so eventually everyone got to own one. My oldest daughter lives in the country, so they  still enjoy popping firecrackers on New Year’s Day and the 4th of July. I’ll watch some ball games and my wife will catch up on her soaps because the grandchildren are grown and doing their own thing, but I hope they start their own July 4th tradition when they settle down and raise their families.

When my mother and stepfather were still alive, holidays meant good food, plenty of refreshments and lots of family. We had long lost cousins driving through Victoria just drop by my mother's house because they knew if it was a holiday, we were celebrating. Last month when we went to visit my older sister in Texas City; I asked her about some recipes for some food we hadn't tasted since my mother died. I even asked her if she knew of a restaurant that served the Syrian food that my mother used to cook. My mothers was a housekeeper for a Syrian family in Victoria where she became an extended part of their family and learned how to make some delicacies like stuffed bell peppers, squash, cabbage and grape leaves. I've tried some grape leaves at Greek Bros, but it left us disappointed.The store bought frozen stuff dell peppers are good but they are missing a spice or two. I should have known that my sister didn't have the recipe, because, although she was a great cook in her day, she told me she has scaled back quite a bit. That explained the store bought salsa, tortillas, and dessert she served us that day. Those delicacies are gone but not forgotten.

It's funny how an innocent question can turn into a gripe session. The question “do you plan to buy fireworks" turned into a discussion about cigarettes, wasteful purchases and waywardwind's laundry list of liberties he has lost.That thread reminded me of several blogs I've written, where I wrote about one thing only to come back and find a different topic. Bill Maher discussed the issue of our liberties with his guest last night. It turns out, our gripes pale in comparisons to what others have in third world countries. As we approach July 4th, we need to be thankful that we still have clean air and water, plenty of food, and just enough rules regulations and laws to irritate us, but not strip away all our rights as Americans.


Edith Ann said...

Fireworks are like setting dollar bills on fire, but those lit dollar bills do not have the 'oohh and aahh' factor like fireworks do. Plus there is something that makes us remember our freedom and liberty when we see the explosions. I don't know about anyone else, but I can get all teary-eyed if I think about it.

It is how we celebrate. It is like buying a turkey for Thanksgiving or presents at Christmas. It's just what we do. Now to actually answer the question--No, I'm not buying any. They're illegal in town and I would much rather enjoy the big show Hartman Distributing does. I'll let someone else do the work on this.

The Syrian food. Do you have a copy of the old Hear Foundation Cookbook from their Food Fair? I'm going to look for my copy (among my 200+ cookbooks) and I'll see what is in there. I may have a surprise for you!

Mike said...

So true,it's who we are.

You know I've been trying to find a way to write a blog about some delicacies, that may be lost, as a way to ask if anyone knows of a restaurant that serves them... I figured someone would know, but now I do remember those food fairs at the Community Center where I might have tasted a Syria dish or two.... As my mother introduce that food to our family; several guest said they thought it was Greek or Turkish food.... "Who cares, passed the dish of stuffed cabbage please." I used to love those food fairs because it seemed like every culture makes a form of french bread or tortilla..:-)

I surely would appreciate the recipes and I'm lucky because my wife also enjoys it and wouldn't mind making it.

Edith Ann said...

Turns out I have several 'Victoria' cookbooks in my collection.

So--you can borrow what I have and peruse them at your leisure. Message me through email or VA and let me know what you'd like to do. You're welcomed to them to see if you can find what you're looking for.

Edith Ann said...

This could give you something to do while you sit on hold waiting to set someone straight. Remember, "like I care. I'm retired."

Legion said...

Well I know some of the recipes, and yeah, Syrian/Lebanese/Greek/Israeli recipes are all the same, they just have different pronunciations of what they are.

The stuffed cabbage and squash, love it, the grape leaves not so much, it's kinda bitter.

The Kibey sp, is good but not the kibey nia, that's the raw stuff.

If you call ahead at Dicks, they will fix up a batch of Kibey meant, good fillings for everything.

Mike said...

My mother used to cook the grape leaves with lemon juice to kill the bitterness;I don't know,maybe it was a ph,counterbalance....but it was delicious... :-)

I must have had the kibey nia because that stuff was nasty but my stepdad had a crazy rule of "you've got to try it before you can say you don't like it."

There was a white cucumber salad but can't remember the name of it...Everyone loved it but me......Thanks for the info,Legion

Edith Ann said...

I figured Legion could hook you up! Dude's a wealth of info!

I have the kibbe recipe. Sorry, but it doesn't sound good.

Mike said...

Kudos,EA,........... Legion is like a Swiss knife,a handy tool with many uses.

Edith Ann said...

Accurate description of Legion!

Now, get to cooking and let's hear about what you produce.

Side note while we're on food--

Went to Lost Cajun last night with some friends and family. I do not eat fish. I will eat friend shrimp. I like moderately spicy food, but I'd like to taste the FOOD, not just the spice.

This is my second trip out there under the curret owner, Terry Ellis.


I ordered beer-battered fried shrimp with fries and got cornmeal coated shrimp with 'from a mix' dirty rice and coleslaw. It was so salty! The owner/chef Terry Ellis wanders around the dining room, chatting up folks, which is fine---if you're not hosting a fairly full house and food is taking 45 minutes to get to the patron!

Overall, it was a 4 out of 10 only because they had a band playing last night, and they were great!

For the life of me, I will never figure out why folks think this place is the be all, end all. It's not! Folks need to get out of Victoria a bit and see what excellent food is all about!

Sorry for the rant! I was just going to say I am making REAL dirty rice from an old recipe I have and I got sidetracked...

Happy cooking!

Mike said...

I've been to the Lost Cajun a couple times,ordered the Cajun Boil both times ,with no complaints....After great raves about Burger Nation,my wife and I left disappointed because fries were too greasy and the hamburger was nothing special,so I guess it goes to prove everyone's taste buds are as different our political view points...:-)

I really like your latest blog,you made a lot of good points but I don't think the VA is at fault because they cleaned up some bomb throwers but since I don't really read the comments about the UHV or city/county issues I will take your word on what's happening there.

For some reason,I haven't felt the urge to check out the comments @VA lately,maybe it's because I'm concentrating more on my personal blogs...Just so many hours in a day or has the same old responses @ VA  starting to get boring?

Edith Ann said...

Well, perhaps I am over-reacting a bit, but I think if you can't write an article about UHV--no matter the reason--without mentioning Tim Hudson, when he has been gone a year--I think that is excessive.

Remember how folks were accusing all the Dems of making President Obama a Messiah? Same thing here, just on a local level. The headline of the latest article---"He did it all". Really? He did it all. HE'S BEEN GONE A YEAR PEOPLE! Move on!

It'd be one thing if every person of note got this kind of follow up treatment, but they don't. When is the last time you heard anything on, say, the former Fire Chief? Or even Karen Haynes, the UHV president before Hudson?

It's excessive, and it appears I am not the only one who agrees with that assessment.

But--don't worry about what you might be missing at the VA--it's nothing.

Legion said...

B. Bise, she did it all... where's that article?

Legion said...

Oh and I don't know whether to take the tool comment as a compliment or not, lol.

The thing about all Syrian/Lebanese/Greek food, is that every family cooks it a little different. Recipes are just suggestions,"You pour this much of (this spice), in the palm of your hand."

The recipe is only known to the cook.

Mike said...

Swiss knife person =is one who deals with situations of all types.....Has to be a compliment.

You're right Legion,a spice or pinch of this or that ,might make it  a different ethic food's like that old commercial about salsa "made in New York City?"

SugarMagnolia said...

The only reason Tim Hudson "did it all" (*smirk*) is because the WOMAN before him - Dr. Karen Haynes - laid the foundation. And, as Forrest Gump is wont to say, "That's all I have to say about thaa-a-t".

As for food, Dad, grandma, and I went to Harley's in Yoakum, as we have plenty of times before. Mostly good food, fair-to-middling atmosphere, but they serve generous portions, enough to make two meals out of, which we usually do, and service is always friendly. Friday night, when we last went, was just - OFF. Too crowded, too loud, WAY TOO LONG to wait for our food (over 45 minutes). We finally got our food, dad's hamburger steak had to be returned twice because it was undercooked (severely - I'm talking blood oozing out when cut, and this is hamburger meat, people - good way to give your customers E. coli 0157), so when it was finally cooked through, the caramelized onions on top had been burned to a crisp. Fries were good, as usual, and my patty melt was good, except when I got further into the patty, it, being hand-formed, was thick in the middle, and - you guessed it - wayyyy undercooked. Turned me off completely. Grandmother didn't have any beef (no pun intended) about her BLT and fries. By the time we got out of there, with the wait to get the food, and the hamburger steak being returned TWICE, we had spent nearly two hours in that noisy restaurant.

Just small gripes, but the thing is, we have never had a gripe about Harley's before. Just an off night? Maybe. I hope. Because Yoakum needs a decent restaurant, and Harley's is pretty much the only one.

Never been to the Lost Cajun. There are too many other seafood restaurants around to waste time on one that is mediocre....

Legion said...

My Grandma on my fathers side told me she asked her mother in law for a Lebanese recipe...Great Grandma told her "you pour this much in your hand and throw it in".

Grandma Della didn't like that, she wanted to use measuring spoons and cups. Great Grandma told her "No! the hand is the measure."

Legion said...

Geez Sugar, that reminds me of Sambos, it use to be where the Walgreens is on Houston Hwy, anyway... I ordered a Hamburger steak with fires, easy right? NO

Forty minutes later the waitress walks out, looks around, and says "Who ordered the Hamburger steak?"

"Over here" I say, I should have just left right then.

Raw in the middle?, NOOOO, it was still frozen in the middle!

The wife and I walked the tab and I do not feel guilty about it at all.

Mike said...

And I thought it was just me, that complained about restaurants that stared out on a good foot ,then due to more customers,they start to cut corners like undercooking food,poor service, and instead of hiring more quality help ,they settle for longer wait times.

I just got back from a ride thru the park....looks like The Pump House is coming along quite nicely but we only saw one family but we cut off a the old rodeo.....