Place these words on your hearts. Get them deep inside you. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder. Teach them to your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning until you fall into bed at night. Deuteronomy 11:18-19 (The Message)
For Christmas, my mom gave me a subscription to Southern Living magazine. A magazine subscription is not something I would buy myself, so I was pleased with the gift. Even though my father quickly pointed out that she got two free gift subscriptions with a two year renewal. Gotta love a dad who always tells the truth. I enjoyed Southern Living magazine when I was young and a newlywed. I found great ideas to decorate my own home and recipes that even I, a fledgling cook, could handle. When the boys came along, I was too busy to read magazines. Besides my house was decorated with legos, and I didn’t cook anything that wasn’t made with sour cream and condensed soup. In those days, there were two hungry birdies standing by the stove with their mouths open. I didn’t have time to experiment and try new things that would be greeted with “YUCK! Can we have that chicken casserole instead? The ones with Ritz crackers on the top?” Now that it is just husband and me at home for dinner most nights, I’ve been experimenting and Southern Living magazine is my model. In the last week, we had Skillet Chicken Pot Pie from the January issue, Honey-Lime Chicken with Coconut-Black Bean Rice and Pecan-Crusted Chicken and Tortellini with Herbed Butter Sauce from February and Spicy Fruit-Stuffed Pork Loin with Roasted Pears and Onions and Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes from November. To top it all off, we had Caramelized Banana Pudding and Tangerine Chess Pie from the February issue. Next week, I think we will try King Ranch Chicken Mac and Cheese from the January issue and Hummingbird Bundt Cake from the February issue. Of all the things I cooked so far, only the Coconut-Black Bean Rice was disappointing. Husband tried to keep a game face on, but even I had to admit it was too sweet and sticky. Next time, I will leave out the coconut milk! The Caramelized Banana Pudding, however, was so yummy it was hard to limit ourselves to one serving. It is made in individual sized custard cups. I am used to making enough banana pudding to fill a huge punch bowl, so those little teeny tiny servings didn’t go far, but they were some kind of good. Perhaps we will learn portion control as well as gain new recipes! All this cooking has forced me to buy new spices and utensils. I didn’t have a meat mallet, dried sage or fresh rosemary. It has also caused me to get out more pots and pans than I am used to. It is obvious that these Southern Living recipe creators do not have to wash their own dishes. Still, it’s been fun to try something new, and it keeps us talking at the dinner table. Dinner has always been important in our family, not just because of the food, but because of the time together. Even with just two of us, it’s still important. Maybe even more.