It always seems that when we get together with family, it involves food in one way or another. Crazy as it seems, when we Skyped an internet visit with our grandchildren, it also involved food.
While the twins Arianna and Eli were being silly for this grandma and grandpa, their mother took time to make supper for her family. So as the twins were singing their ABCs and wrestling before the computer camera for us, food was being cooked - family and food do go together.
Not long ago, our daughter Rebecca and her husband Andy brought their granddaughter, Serenity (4) for a visit. We planned to play in the snow, so she was dressed in snowsuit and boots.
We did go outside, but a nasty wind picked up and soon we were back inside. Serenity then went to our bucket of toy cars and played in the living room. Our dog Sunny wanted to slobber kisses all over her, but we managed to sidetrack him.
When it came time for lunch decisions had to be made. "What does Serenity like to eat?" I asked the doting grandparents. Their answer was to ask me, "What do you have?"
It's hard enough feeding visitors, most don't care for the food that satisfies Bob and me during the winter, like all kinds of soup. Serenity and all the kids in our family would never choose soup unless it came out of a can.
I didn't have a Serenity-type food, even if she ate peanut butter on bread, the peanut butter we use has to be mixed to incorporate the oil and the bread that I had baked was whole wheat.
Eventually I said, "We could make pancakes," and that was that. Serenity heard the word pancakes and nothing else would please her, so lunch was to be pancakes. Lucky I had all the ingredients.
Rebecca took the kitchen over and started whipping up the batter. First, she asked if I had a mix. "No, but I have flour, eggs, milk and the rest."
I was setting up my electric griddle when I heard Rebecca gasped, "Oh, no! That's not baking powder! It's garlic powder!" She had already dumped a good portion into the mixing bowl. "I was sure it said baking powder."
"Don't move the whisk," I said. "We'll try to get the garlic powder off the top with a spoon."
I brought out a container for the discarded flour and a large spoon. Gently, we removed the garlic, but the whisk had more around it. The spoon wasn't going to solve this.
Instead, I slushed my hand under the whisk and brought up a good handful of garlic flour and the whisk with it.
It looked like we had gotten all or at least most of the garlic powder out. Rebecca recalculated needed ingredients and finished making the batter. When it was blended, I tasted it for signs of garlic…. It was fine.
"Once I made meatloaf and grabbed the wrong spice," said Rebecca. "I added cinnamon and that wasn't so easy to remove. Andy wondered what I had done differently to the meatloaf. It wasn't the best supper I've ever made."
Serenity hadn't a clue that her pancakes had nearly been a disaster. She ate hers with the addition of chocolate chips.
I didn't throw out the garlic flour either. The next time Rebecca and Andy visited we had a fish fry. Our neighbors had given us enough pan fish to feed an army. Andy cooked that afternoon. He added the garlic flour to his dredging mixture. The fish first went into an egg wash.
I told Andy to use a secret ingredient my mother always used. "Mix Miracle Whip in with the eggs," I said. "Everyone loved my mom's fish fries and she would never tell her secret ingredient. I tell everyone now…. Sorry, Mom." I ended apologizing to the heavens.
I can't remember the last time I fried fish, most of what we eat is baked. If I yearn for fried fish, we usually go out to a restaurant. But this fish fry in our kitchen was perfect. I didn't have to do any of the frying, just a bit of the clean-up, and the fish was melt-in-your-mouth yummy - it reminded me of Mom's.
Winter has kept us home most days. I can't wait for spring's arrival so we can get together with more family members and share food - but from now on we'll remember to add the garlic powder to the fish and not the pancakes.
Susan Manzke, Sunnybook Farm, N8646 Miller Rd, Seymour, WI 54165; Sunnybook@aol.com; www.susanmanzke.net; http://www.facebook.com/susan.manzke.