I have some really happy memories from my childhood. Not all of them are, but a lot of the ones that include my siblings are…
except that time my older brother threw a brick at me and hit me in the forehead—I still have a scar. Incidentally, that was the time he was in so much trouble that Mom chased him up the ladder (wooden slats nailed to the side of a 100 foot Black Walnut tree) to the treehouse. He wasn’t about to get caught, so he jumped out of the treehouse to the trampoline below! Mom definitely wasn’t going to follow. By the time she got to the top of the ladder and on the treehouse platform, she realized just how high above the ground she was. Apparently the adrenaline rush had faded and she suddenly remembered she doesn’t do well with heights. Then, with slightly trembling hands, she tried to climb back down the ladder. Unfortunately, she didn’t know how. Sometimes swinging your legs over the edge, not knowing where there is solid “ground” below, can be overwhelming and paralyzing. Mom got stuck. As the rest of us kids (we’re 7 children) continue to watch the scene unfold, Mom started crying out for one of the boys to help her get down. My younger brothers didn’t quite know what to do, so she told them to go find their older brother. I don’t know how they managed to persuade him to come back to the scene of the crime, but he did. Mom told him to climb up the ladder and help guide her down out of the tree. My brother looked at her as if she had just escaped the Looney Bin. He didn’t think getting anywhere near his punisher was a good idea. He started shaking his head and backing away. Mom all but got hysterical then, and began pleading with him to help her! My brother, always being one to wheel-and-deal (a trait he learned early-on from my Uncle Paul who used to sell us his “cool” stuff like radio station bumper stickers and half sticks of gum) said he’d make Mom a deal. If she wouldn’t punish him…AT ALL…he’d come up to help her down. She readily agreed and up he went. Obviously, this totally wasn’t fair to me, the one with blood trickling down her face, but what’s a girl to do?
But I digress (as usual). I was remembering one of the HAPPY times with my siblings. We lived in this old, old house that was over a hundred years old then. Too bad I was too young then to appreciate the beauty of the gingerbread gables and hardwood floors. The front porch was made of smooth shale, which served as a fitting gathering spot for us and our neighbor friends. In the summer heat, we would lay out flat in our shorts and tank tops to feel the year-round coolness of the stone. The porch was equally appealing in the winter and spring-time (Missouri has GREAT seasons!) When it rained and stormed outside, sometimes we’d gather up our heaviest blankets and quilts and head out to the front porch. I still remember an old patchwork quilt (that had purple marbled fabric on one side) that was so heavy and comfy I’d always be first to grab it! And there we’d sit, watching the rain, snuggled up together on the front porch, just me and my siblings.
I don’t know why certain memories stay with us and others don’t. There doesn’t really seem to be any rhyme or reason to it. But, I’m glad I have these happy ones of my simple childhood growing up in southern Missouri. What rainy day memories do you have?
So, here’s the recipe I cooked last week when it was raining (like it is today) and I didn’t have my husband or my siblings to snuggle with. It’s a very tasty LOWFAT and easy to make Southwestern Chicken and White Bean Chili recipe. I keep most of the products in my pantry so I can whip it up on just such days.
2 TBSP Olive OilPREPARATION:
2 tsp Garlic Powder
2 tsp Ground Cumin
1 tsp Oregano
½ tsp Cayenne Pepper (ground red pepper)
1 large (or two small) can diced Green Chilies
1 white onion, diced
1 bunch green onion, diced
1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped
2 cans fat free Chicken Broth
4-6 cans White Pinto or Navy Beans (I use “Great Northern” beans)
3 pounds cooked, cubed chicken breasts (or, you can use 2 large cans chicken breast, drained*)
Prepare chicken breasts (cook), cut into small cubes/chunks. (Skip this step if you are using canned chicken.)
Dice green onion, white onion. Chop fresh cilantro (cut off stems first and throw away).
In large soup pan, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Add white onion, green onion, and cilantro. Cook 4-5 minutes or until vegetables are slightly clear.
Stir in chicken broth, chicken, green chilies and spices.
Cover and simmer on medium heat for 15 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in beans.
Return to heat. Cover and simmer another 15 minutes. Serve warm. You can cut the recipe in half if you don’t want a giant pot full. Enjoy!