Bena Mae's Kitchen: Battling the winter blahs
I haven’t taken down my outdoor Christmas decorations yet. Maybe when the neighbors complain. I am overcome with inertia. I have no incentive to do anything. I feel like I’m in a time warp. Hey, You wouldn’t happen to have any Prozac on you, would you?
Only two months ‘til spring! But we do have March Madness to look forward to. Right? Nope, Kill me now. Can’t wait that long.
I’m so sick of layers of clothes. My feet stay so cold they swear they’ve just landed on the North Pole. They’ll be that way until May. I need a little cheering up, know of a public hanging I can go to? Somebody said walking in the rain will lift your spirits. Somebody’s crazy.
Complaining about it does no good. Everybody I know is in the same mood. Top that with the credit card bills arriving in the mail. But two things have happened that offer a little cheer. Words that will no longer be a part of our vocabulary in 2013, “fiscal cliff’ and “spoiler alert.” It’s official. I read it on the internet. Two others that I’d just as soon never hear again, “Kardashians” and “Honey-Boo-Boo.” Please Lord.
Most of our TV sets are locked in to the weather channels in the hope that they’ll tell us something that will cheer us up. It’s the same old dreary forecasts -- cold continues with a chance of showers. This drives us into a deeper funk where the only alternative is to get the heck out of Dodge. But looking at the weather map, other parts of the country aren’t having it so good, either. Neither points further east, north, or south offer any escape. So the thing to do, I guess, is just to “suck it up” and wait for the first crocus to show its tiny little head.
One of my favorite forecasts is one I shared with you several years ago but makes as much sense today as the puffed-up-with-adrenalin meteorologists who take joy in predicting our tomorrows and the next day and the next day. Enjoy it this second time around.
It was autumn, and the Indians on the remote reservation asked their new Chief if the winter was going to be cold or mild. Since he was a new Indian Chief in a modern society, he had never been taught the old secrets, and when he looked at the sky, he couldn’t tell what the weather was going to be. Nevertheless, to be on the safe side, he replied to his tribe that the winter was indeed going to be cold and that the members of the village should collect wood to be prepared. But also being a practical leader, after several days he got an idea. He went to the phone booth, called the National Weather Service and asked,
“Is the coming winter going to be cold?”
“It looks like this winter is going to be quite cold indeed,” the meteorologist at the weather service responded. So the Chief went back to his people and told them to collect even more wood in order to be prepared. A week later he called the National Weather Service again.
“Is it going to be a very cold winter?”
“Yes,” the man at National Weather Service again replied, “it’s going to be a very cold winter.”
The Chief again went back to his people and ordered them to collect every scrap of wood they could find. Two weeks later he called the National Weather Service again. “Are you absolutely sure that the winter is going to be very cold?”
“Absolutely,” the man replied. “It’s going to be one of the coldest winters ever.”
“How can you be so sure?” the Chief asked.
The weatherman replied, “The Indians are collecting wood like crazy!”
Note of cheer: For half the population of the U.S., Downton Abbey continues with its third series on Sunday, Jan. 6 on PBS TV. Happy Sundays.
Cold weather calls for stomach pleasing foods. And nothing is so pleasing as Mac and Cheese.
Oven Baked Macaroni and Cheese
3 tablespoons butter
2 cups dry macaroni
4 cups milk
1 block sharp cheddar cheese, grated (or about 4 cups)
1 package breakfast sausage links or bulk sausage, cooked (optional)
salt and pepper
a sprinkle of fresh chopped chives (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray large, rectangular pyrex dish with nonstick cooking spray. Put butter into dish and set it in the oven as it preheats. When butter is melted, take the dish out and add macaroni. Stir until macaroni is coated. Add milk, cheese, salt, and pepper. Stir and make sure ingredients are evenly distributed. Bake at 400 for 45 minutes, stirring once during baking. Place cooked breakfast sausages on top (and sprinkle a little extra cheese if desired) and heat in oven until hot. Sprinkle on fresh chopped chives if desired.