Well Bless My Little Peapickin’ Heart

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I do love food. A nice meal can make the whole wide world seem right.

And because I like to sample food and try restaurants, I’ve been aware for a while of this trend toward “comfort food.” Or, to put it more bluntly, what once was low class food has become high class.

Examples? Ratatouille, organ meats, meatloaf on a four star menu, gourmet mac and cheese.

This weekend The Good Man and I had some celebrating to do, and so we went to a pretty nice hotel for a very nice Sunday champagne brunch. The place isn’t four star, but it’s the sort of place where you put on your Sunday go to meetin’ clothes for a meal.

This was my third visit to the establishment which means it must be good. They lay out a stunning room full of well made and delicious food and invite guests to dig in.

I generally start light. Maybe a salad, a selection of fancy cheeses, a stuffed blintz.

Second round I head right to the carvery station because there is always a big hunk of fantastic protein waiting for me.

On this day, there was a tri tip sitting there begging for my attention, which I gladly provided.

Then I noticed there was a second hunk of meat off to the side. I strolled over. The sign said “Coca-Cola braised ham.”

Why, I do declare!

Right here in Northern California, a little ol’ Coca-Cola ham. And suddenly I got my southern on.

“Sir, is that really Co-Cola ham?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“I haven’t had that since I was a kid. You know, they used to make that all the time back in the day.”

*laugh* “They sure did. Here you go, enjoy a nice big slice.”

I giggled behind my imaginary fan and went back to my seat and devoured that tender, juicy bit of pork like a famished linebacker.

So delicious.

But let’s be honest with each other here…Coca Cola ham was something folks made back in the day because it was cheap. An inexpensive cut of meat, pour a bottle of Coke over the top, let the oven boil out the water leaving a sticky, sugary sauce. Baste liberally.

And now here it sits like a crown jewel in a fairly high end restaurant. My, the times do change.

Of course, Co-Cola ham has a special place in my heart because it’s part of one of my favorite scenes in one of my all time favorite books Red Sky at Morning by Richard Bradford.

———

“Josh,” said my father, “have some more ham-with-Coca-Cola-sauce. Probably the last time you’ll have it for the duration.” He picked up a thick slice of the nasty stuff with the serving knife and fork, and I passed my plate. Glup. Good salt-cured Tennessee smoked ham. Perfectly good Coca-Cola from Atlanta. Put them all together, you’ve got Secrets from a Southern Kitchen.”

———

In other news, this morning I got up extra early so I could get a batch of chicken thighs soaking in my special marinade. Tonight they will be cooked up, shredded and made into enchiladas.

Apparently it’s old home week at my place. Does my little ol’ heart some good.






Image found over at The Greasy Spoon. Link includes a recipe for Coca-Cola ham, if you are interested.



The Proudest Nina In The Whole Wide World

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Being a Nina (godmother) is an interesting thing. It’s become an unexpected but fantastically fulfilling part of my life.

I’m up to five godkids now…and sometimes that makes me want to pour a cool beverage, sit a spell, and think.

Mostly about the sanity of these friends who have invited me to have something of an impact on the lives of their children.

I mean really? Me?

But they said, “yeah, you” and so I stepped up. I take godparenting very seriously. This isn’t just some “in name only” kind of deal.

These five kids are my kids. I laugh with them and cry with them and by god my heart breaks for them.

Whew. It’s a lot.

On Sunday, The Good Man and I found ourselves in our Sunday go-to-meetin’ clothes inside the insanely gorgeous Grace Cathedral at the tippy top of Nob Hill in San Francisco.

It was baptism day for the two girls that belong to one of The Good Man’s oldest and dearest friends and his lovely wife.

We’re the head godfolks over their oldest child who is nearly three and is beautiful and smarter than a whip. We’re the backup godfolks for the younger girl who is creeping up on six months and is adorable as the day is long.

I always did enjoy a good baby dunking. This church is just so beyond spectacular that it made the day that much more special.

I’m not going to lie, I misted up a little bit when they splashed that holy water up on the noggins of my pretty girls. I don’t know, it just got to my little Nina soul to see them up there being brave and taking on this sacred ceremony in their lives.

It’s a good thing I had the hand of The Good Man to hang onto for strength.

Later that evening, I got a call from my oldest godchild, the twelve year old daughter of my best friend back in New Mexico. I’d sent both her and her sister a little box of fun stuff from my recent international travels, and she wanted to talk about it.

She had just gotten home from a 4H shooting competition up Raton where she had taken eleventh place and her little sister (the ten year old) had done good too. The younger girl had done a respectable sixth place shooting a .25 rifle with scope. It was her first time in competition and she wiped up the floor with the other sixty kids in the race.

My girls!

And then came the part where I had to lay down because I was weak in the knees with pride.

My goddaughter told me how when they were up in Raton, she learned a new song on her violin.

Now, let me back up here and fill in some story so we’re on the same page. There is a gentleman named Mr. Joe Delk who is a New Mexico legend. He leads the Delk band with his three sons and is one hell of a musician.

He plays a fiddle like it oughta be played. He learned it from his daddy.

Mr. Delk and his band played many of the dances I went to back at NMSU. I’ve met Mr. Delk several times and found him to be a kind man with a quick wit.

Before my godkids went up to Raton, they heard that Mr. Delk was going to be there too since his grandson was in the shooting competition. My baby girl’s dad told her this fact and said she might take her violin along and see if she could talk to Mr. Delk about playing.

So, she did. She took her instrument and she got up all her courage and walked over to a living legend of New Mexico (by herself, her mom wasn’t there at the time) and asked Mr. Delk about playing the violin.

Mr. Delk told my girl to go get her instrument and then he taught her how to play “Faded Love“.

Oh lordy, I’m tearing up again.

I’m the proudest Nina in the whole wide world. My girl! Such a brave one. I’m in awe of her!

I talked about her and her sister taking their seat at the table with a long line of proud agricultural New Mexicans when they raised and sold their pigs at last year’s fair.

And now, my oldest girl steps into some really hallowed territory. She can play a song that is a bedrock of both our American and our Southern New Mexico culture all thanks to a man who is himself part of that bedrock.

Whew. I didn’t know it was possible to feel this proud.

What an awesome day to be a Nina.

And god kid #5? Well, I finally got a boy in my clan. What in the heck am I going to do about a boy? He’s just a few weeks old, so I have time to sort it out. He’s already one of the calmest babies I’ve ever known in my life. I know both he and his big brother are destined to be amazing men.

Just. Whew.

I need to go dab my eyes a little and hug the infinitely huggable Good Man and thank whichever entity seems to fit into my dogma and catma today for the chance to be a part of it all.

I gotta heart full of proud.



Heart Full of Stars



Image found on Silverbeam’s Deviant Art page and used under Fair Use.



House Has Got Da Blues

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For my music loving readers, let me ask you this…

Have you ever been to a live music show that simply left you speechless?

I have. It happened to me Tuesday night.

The Good Man and I took a couple extra vacation days after the Monday holiday so we could road trip up to the beautiful Napa Valley.

Our destination was the historic Uptown Theatre.

The journey took us to see one Mr. Hugh Laurie, who many might know from the American television show “House” but who The Good Man and I know better from BBC shows such as “A Bit of Fry and Laurie,” “Jeeves and Wooster” and “Black Adder.”

Turns out the venerable Mr. Laurie isn’t just an incredibly talented actor, but he’s one hell of a musician, and a consummate entertainer. Apparently the guy is good at everything he tries. I’d have to hate him if I didn’t admire him so much.

His deep love of very old New Orleans style American blues, jazz and spiritual music prompted the release of his album “Let Them Talk.

I’m a fan of blues music and was happy to give the album a listen. To be honest, it’s more jazz than blues but it’s so well arranged and so well produced that I dug the album from first cut to last note.

And then the live show. So incredibly engaging. The crowd was totally in it all along. Mr. Laurie knows how to entertain and his backing band is solid (except for the guitar player).

Whew. My arms hurt from clapping so hard.

What an amazing show. If it comes near your hometown, I can’t recommend it enough!


Here’s a couple shots I took at the show (we had amazing seats).







Photos Copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license found in the far right column of this page. Photos taken with an iPhone4s, an iPhone telephoto lens and the Camera+ app.



Extending the Holiday by just a Skosh….

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This morning I sat next to The Good Man at breakfast at a lovely little bed and breakfast in Napa. There were two other couples at the table, also guests of the B&B, and the six of us talked idly of wine tasting and things to do in California as we got to know each other a little.

At the end of the table was a couple that were a bit older than the rest. The man wore a baseball cap showing he was a military veteran and the troop he was with.

One of the guys at the table asked him, “Where were you stationed?”

He replied, “Well…I was in Korea and I was also in Viet Nam, so I was over there, and also in the US a bit. I was sort of all over.”

The first man said, “I bet you’ve seen a lot of things.”

The older man replied, “Yep. And seen a lot of things I wish I hadn’t.”

This, of course, brought a moment of thoughtful silence to the table.

The man reminded me a bit of my dad, himself a veteran of Korea.

Just a two minute conversation that to me highlighted the holiday we just finished celebrating.

Thought I’d share it.



Charmed

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For my week in Costa Rica, this was the view out of one of my hotel windows.

It cheered me greatly, though I had to look up what pongámosle meant.

It means “give me.”

How utterly charming!

Yes, Costa Rica, I shall give you my green heart. And you shall give me yours too.

¡Pura vida!







Photo copyright 2012, Karen Fayeth, and subject to the Creative Commons license in the far right corner of this page. Photo taken with an iPhone 4s and the Hipstamatic app.