From enjoying the quiet islands to facing bitter ice storms, it may be the way my in-laws are going to end their winter hibernation. They are trying to climb their way from the warming winds of coastal Texas up to the frozen tundra that right now is describing their homeland of Missouri.
|Coming in from a weary wintry journey south|
Luckily we live here in Houston and family is spread between here and Missouri so they can hop their way home in between bouts of ice and sleet. What a bittersweet return journey...they still are not home yet as more sleet is pounding northern Texas and Oklahoma.
As I was lazily driving home from Austin the other day, windows rolled down, not caring how wild my hair looked there was a decided hint of spring out there. Little did I know that we would all swing weather-wise back to wintry conditions before the week was out. I don't mind. I love it. But, it's not exactly what cross country drivers want to be experiencing on the roadways.
|Those moody wild Texas skies:|
The fields are still straw-colored as they blend right into the trees that are dusty pale brown as well...bare, scraggily, and gnarly. I was enjoying these very spring-like breezes, before one final cold snap was readying to descend upon this unsuspecting Texan landscape.
But my in-laws were carefully watching the changing moods of late winter. They decided to stop in and hunker down with us for awhile so they could survey how bad the ice and sleet would pummel the midwestern states.
It's a long straight drive from the coastal towns to the hubbub of metro Houston. They were tired when they rolled in and in need of rest and good nourishment.
I scribbled out an easy menu list for the week that was doable for all of us with Riley and I still deep into spring semester of high school most of the day.
We are fortunate, living this far south, in that we typically have fresh fruits coming in from Mexico and South America throughout the year. Citrus is certainly in season and playing a front and center role in the markets.
Something with citrus fruit sounded good for this gloomy grey week. Putting something on the table with fresh colors and vibrant tastes sounded like a good pick me up for everyone. I bought a pound of fresh salmon and decided on a recipe filled with citrus juice, vodka, soy sauce, and fresh sprigs of dill.
We live a very quiet life during the week. Riley and I move from one subject to the next in a regular pattern similar to the same blue jays that visit us at the window sill throughout the day, the same hawks that fly overhead in regular rounds to see if there might be something tasty below, and Polly and Chester who are either curled up around us or chasing each other around the house. Often, when I worry that my life is too quiet for those teen years, my college daughter tells me she cannot wait to turn the "noise" of college static off and burrow herself in the quiet that is our house for a life break.
So it was a great diversion to have my in-laws nestle in with us and give us a welcome distraction from our regular routine. They always have wonderful stories to share. My mother-in-law grew up on a farm in Missouri as a little girl. She was born during the later years of WWII and can remember the day that it was announced the war in Europe was over. She was a little girl of eight years old. What a day to capture in one's memory!
She has stories about her mother's huge garden and how much work went into racing against the summer time clock to can and jar vegetables to put up for the winter. They weren't trying to live "sustainably". They were just trying to live the only way they knew how...by growing their own food and recycling and composting anything they could because that was just the way things were done then.
Her stories are always lively and she tells them with such vivid animation that the pages of scenes from stories reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie come to life through her words.
|The beauty in Weekly Snacks;|
Prepping for the first BBQ of the season and trying to look all fancy!
She has an older sister who lives in St. Louis. They love to swap letters sometimes about their childhood days living on a country farm. The world sure has changed tremendously since the days post WWII. Joanne and her sister write colorful letters to each other that capture their amusement of all of the spiffy consumer products available for house keeping in this decade.
Their stories really capture the reactions of a generation that was on the cusp of emerging consumerism and the boom in mass produced goods that made life become easier and easier for that generation...and probably taken for granted by our generation...and now posing threats to future generations.
Her sister, Patti, wrote a hilarious letter lauding the achievements of the Swiffer dusters. Whereas we take products like this for granted and cleaning our homes isn't quite the back-bending effort it used to be, her generation practically pays homage and exalts such products with rave reviews that are rib-tickling for us to hear being described.
I made a tea time cake for us to enjoy mid-afternoon on one day. Riley and I took a break from schooling to seek out something either sweet or salty in the kitchen. How wonderful it was to close the computers down for a bit, sit down at the kitchen table with my in-laws, pour a hot cup of coffee and enjoy a warm cake filled with blackberries and raspberries.
While George & Joanne amuse us with stories of life during the 1950's and 60's, Riley describes a paper he is writing for his Contemporary History course.
He is writing a research paper about the Impact of Consumerism in Developed Countries and their Impact on Global Warming. As we are eating our berries (trucked in from Mexico) and recycling our many papers, boxes, and plastics during the week...Joanne describes how life was physically harder a few decades ago but people were leaner and the amount of fossil fuels, feed for cattle, and electricity we use today just wasn't available or necessary back then.
It was fascinating to hear and see the world through the eyes of one generation and then sit and edit through and discuss the topic of a research paper with another generation...topics that wouldn't have been understood nor possibly foreseen only several decades ago.
So to really mix things up even more with all of our cross-generational sharing over the week, we decided to all treat ourselves at the end of the week to a Saturday night outing on the town...at an Indian/Italian fusion pizza place.
Houston is certainly the land of cultural influences and fusion cooking that is one step ahead of this generation's new global marketplace. This city mixes it up and shakes it up and brings the world together on the dinner plate.
There is nothing like Houston restaurants to display that intriguing blend of global experiences and interpret it directly onto our dinner menus.
We took them to a new place called "Bombay Pizza". Bombay pizza fuses Indian flavors with traditional Italian influences. For example, one pizza can be described as "Tandoori chicken, Artichoke Hearts, Provolone and mozzarella on Cilantro-Mint Chutney...topped with fresh Cilantro"
Fortunately, this is global consumerism at its most interesting. We all really enjoyed the flavor combinations but chuckled at the span of conversation from the days of activities like jarring and canning, that was truly natural sustainability... to today's fusion cooking and high school student research papers debating the doom and gloom of overconsumption in this fast moving generation.
By morning, on the road my in-laws went...to brave further looming ice storms that threaten to take a bite with their icy teeth over the midwestern plain states.
And another collection of beautiful stories are left behind as we realize that one generation is showing another generation the beautiful but hard life that was once America before the "gotta haves" and "wanna haves" became coined into new words added to our vocabulary...like consumerism, overconsumption, global impact, and sustainability.
Recipe from: The View from Great Island blog
**Adapted from the blog: Bakers Royale blog
Labels: berry cake, berry coffeecake, cake, citrus vodka salmon, desserts, dinner, glazed salmon, oatmeal cake, Salmon, tea time desserts, vodka glazed salmon