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Where I Am 2021

Recently, Husband hung two pictures on our bedroom wall: 8” x 10” black and white pictures of himself and me.  Pictures we gave each other while we were college students.  Pictures made a year before he put a diamond ring on my finger.  His picture sat on the three-drawer dresser beside my twin bed in my college dorm room. 

            My young Grand looked at the pictures and asked, “Gran, who are those people?” 

            “That’s Pop and me when we were dating,” I said.  Her furrowed brows said she didn’t believe me.  Why should she? Husband had hair; my hair was long and brown.  Those people didn’t have wrinkles or double chins.  My Grand doesn’t know those people, and somehow her doubt made me think of something my aunt said when she was about the age I am now.  

            While visiting Aunt Doris, she told me she’d been to three funeral home visitations and baked cakes for grieving families during that week.  I said, “I’m so sorry.” 

            Aunt Doris’s reply gave me the title of this column and a mantra for life: “It’s okay. This is where we are.”  In her gentle voice, my aunt encouraged me to take stock of today and to accept life and its changes.  This is where we are. 

            Even though I’m not a student, I still like to learn and ask questions.  I want to learn something every day, although I sometimes forget and learn the same thing another day.

            I’m no longer a granddaughter or daughter; I’m on the other side of those relationships. I attend more funerals than weddings.  A rocking chair on my front porch welcomes me. 

             I try to do something every day that I’ve never done before.  Last week I held a one-month-old kid, a baby goat, and it wiggled like the puppies I dressed in doll clothes when I was a child. 

            I like celebrations.  A gathering for fun or birthdays or Friday night pizza supper is a celebration. I’m still a country girl.  I’d choose sitting outside under a shade tree over a shopping trip anytime.  

            Exercise feels like physical therapy.  Stiff joints move slowly. I do chair yoga and Silver Sneakers exercise.  I walk around the block, not for fun, but to keep my bones strong.  I tiptoe, not to be quiet, but to stretch the calves of my legs. 

            I solve newspaper Sudoku puzzles and play Words with Friends online for brain exercise.  Writing my memoirs (which my children might read and appreciate when they are my age) and this column, forces me to think in complete sentences.

            I’m thankful for technology to easily and quickly communicate with friends and family, especially my teen-age Grands. I like board and card games – even when Grands ask to play the same game time and time again.  I’ll never read all the books on my to-be-read list.            

That girl in the picture is still in love with that guy. And the older we get, the more I embrace life as it is.

Everyone Needs a POP-IT

My ten-year-old Grand sent a text message from his parent’s phone.  ‘Hi, Gran. Here’s what I’d like for my birthday,’ he wrote.  He shared a link for a Bubble Push Pop Tie-Dye Sensory Fidget Pop Toy and the picture showed a blue, white, and red circle.  It was advertised as a stress, anxiety, and tension reliever, great for anyone with autism, ADHD, ADD, and a gift idea for all ages.

            The price was $14.99.  (Is anyone fooled into thinking $14.00, not $15.00?)  It was five inches in diameter and had 28 bubbles. So, I thought, if my Grand thinks this toy is worth requesting for his birthday, then I’d get one for all our Grands to play with when they visit, and I can always use something to relieve stress and tension.  

             I ordered two.  One for the birthday boy.  One for me.  

            If you don’t know what a POP-IT is, then you probably haven’t been around a child recently. On a shopping trip to a toy store with two Grands, ages 6 and 8, we saw a POP-IT display that would fill a grocery store cereal aisle.  Every color and color combinations.  Every flat geometric shape and designs from apples to bears to rainbows to unicorns.  Priced from $3.00 – $25.00.  All small enough to fit kids’ hands.  

             According to Wikipedia, a POP-IT is a silicone-based tray of half-sphere bubbles that can be pushed in, thrilling kids with a resulting popping sound.  (I’d say entertaining, not thrilling.)  The pop is like a muffled bubble wrap pop, and after a bubble is pushed down, it can be pushed back up.  

            So, what do you do with a POP-IT?  “Pop it,” said my young Grands. Is that really fun? It is if you race someone to see who pops faster.  Or if you create a design by popping a few bubbles.  Or if you pop only the ones around the circumference or every other bubble.  Or just want to keep your hands moving.

            As an elementary school teacher, I knew students who picked their fingernails or twisted a strand of hair around their fingers or tapped pencils on their desks.  They fidgeted.  Some students kept a piece of fabric to rub or a rubber ball to squeeze inside their desks.  All these kids would’ve liked a POP-IT.

            When I rode in a car for 1½ hours with three young Grands, I was glad they had POP-ITS.  They sat still and were calm as their fingers moved constantly, but there were a couple of arguments about who popped faster. 

            While I wrote this column, I picked up my POP-IT several times. I looked out the window at green treetops, collected my thoughts, popped some bubbles, and put my fingers back on the keyboard.              A POP-IT a simple toy – I wish I’d thought of it – and will soon be replaced by another got-to-have-it toy.  Then, you can ask your favorite kid for the one he discards.  It’ll keep your hands busy and might relieve tension and stress.

Eat More Ice Cream and Celebrate

In honor of National Ice Cream month, my Facebook friends shared their favorite flavors. Chocolate Chip Mint.  Butter Pecan.  Vanilla.  Rocky Road. Fig.  Pralines and Cream.  Coconut.  Butternut.  Chocolate.  Peach.  Cookies and cream. Banana.  Spumoni.  Bubble gum. Peanut Butter Chocolate.

            Some were specific.  Baskin Robbins Nutty Coconut.  Stellar Coffee at Cream City Ice Cream.  Blue Bell Salted Caramel at Cole’s Store. Dark Chocolate at Lazy Cow.  Fudge at Mackinac Island.  Brown Butter Bourbon Truffle by Kroger’s Private Selection.  Mayfield Chocolate.

            Several friends chose homemade: anything homemade, vanilla, strawberry, and peach.  I agree homemade is delicious. Is homemade ice cream really better than that bought in a carton or is the experience of making it and scooping it from a tall cold metal cylinder is what makes it so good?    

            Not one friend named my favorite flavor:  Burgundy Cherry that is sometimes available at Cream City and Baskins Robbins. 

            What ice cream flavors are the most popular in the United States?  According to an article published by Newsweek magazine on May 25, 2021, chocolate is the first choice – followed closely by vanilla.  Plain chocolate and plain vanilla.  That’s really not surprising.  Flavored toppings and nuts and candy and almost anything can be added to chocolate or vanilla to create unique tastes. 

            Toppings brings to mind sundaes and banana splits.  When I was young, Mom, Dad, and I often went to the Dairy Queen on Sunday nights and I always ordered a sundae.  Dad teased that I could only eat sundaes on Sundays, and he had me fooled for a long time.  I hate the slimy texture of bananas, but add ice cream, chocolate syrup, and toasted pecans, and even a banana tastes good.

            Do you eat ice cream in cone or a cup?  Kids choose cones and adults usually choose cups. My friend, Mary Jo, reminded me of the days of past when drug stores sold ice cream.  She remembers buying an ice cream cone for a nickel at the drug store on the square in Livingston, TN. For a dime, she could get a double dip cone.  An ice cream cone for a nickel or dime – those were the days.

             Recently, I took one of my Grands to get ice cream and ordered a two-scoop cone, just like hers – two flavors I’d never eaten.  As we sat and talked and licked ice cream, I declared that ice cream tastes better in a cone.  “Why do you think that’s the only way I eat it?” my Grand asked.

            And why eat only a few flavors?  It’s time to try some suggested by friends and some unusual flavors.  I’d eat Pickled Mango that’s available at an ice cream shop in Ohio, Lobster flavor in Maine, and Creole Tomato in New Orleans. 

            Anyone tried Cheetos ice cream? Vanilla ice cream rolled and dipped in crunched Cheetos, aka Cheeto dust, is sold at a New York City ice cream shop. We could try this at home.  

            It’s July.  Everyone celebrate and eat ice cream!

Eat Ice Cream and Celebrate!

Finally, it’s July.  All year long, I have waited for July so I can eat ice cream and celebrate for 31 days!

            July is National Ice Cream Month as declared by President Reagan in 1984, and he designated the third Sunday (July 18th this year) as National Ice Cream Day.  Because 90% of the people living in the United States eat ice cream, he thought it worthy of being commemorated. 

            We Americans eat 1.6 billion gallons of ice cream each year. That averages 23 pounds per person, and ice cream is among our top ten favorite desserts, ranking number five.  It’s our default desserts, our late-night snacks, our celebration treats.  A bowl of ice cream, topped with caramel and chocolate syrups or sprinkles, is our Grands’ special treat.

            No one knows the exact birthplace of ice cream, but it’s origin could be A. D. 60 when Nero was the Emperor of Rome.  There’s evidence that ice and snow were sweetened with honey and flavored with fruit juices.  By the 1500s, cream was added, and in the 1700s, “cream ice” was sold in European cafes.

            The first written record of ice cream in the U. S. is in a letter written in 1744 by Maryland Governor William Bladen.  In 1790, our first president, George Washington, spent about $200 for ice cream- that’s about $6000 today.  In those days, ice cream was only for the rich.

            By the mid-1800s, ice cream became more available.  In 1843, Nancy Johnson patented the hand crank ice cream maker, and Jacob Fussel began the first ice cream factory in 1851.  Shouldn’t national holidays honor Johnson and Fussel?  Can you imagine celebrating birthdays without ice cream or never knowing the joy of licking an ice cream cone?

            Home refrigerators with small freezers, common in homes by the late 1940s, made it possible to keep ice cream, but in the 1950s, ice cream was only for very special occasions at our house.  Did anyone else’s Mom buy ice milk?  Frozen low-fat milk with added sugar and cheaper than ice cream.  If you haven’t eaten it, be glad. 

            Sometimes, Mom made ice cream.  She skimmed thick cream from the top of cold milk, that Dad had brought from the barn in a milk bucket the day before, and mixed it with sugar, vanilla flavoring, and egg yolks.  She heated it and then poured the mixture into metal ice cube trays, without the dividers, and froze it in our refrigerator’s small freezer compartment, only big enough for four small ice trays. 

            Mom’s homemade ice cream was richer and far better than ice milk, but it didn’t have a smooth texture.  When we got a hand-crank ice cream maker, it turned all those same ingredients Mom poured into ice cube trays into delicious ice cream.  We always made ice cream for our backyard July 4th hamburger cookout so, I agree, July should be National Ice Cream Month.             What’s your favorite ice cream flavor?  How many flavors are available? That’s next week’s column.

1000 Breakfasts

Breakfast was never so good. Bacon, hash browns with onions, two eggs over medium, and buckwheat pancakes. But it wasn’t just the food – the women around the table made this one of the best ever breakfasts.  For the first time, since March 2020, the Tuesday Breakfast Group recently gathered at a restaurant – not outside, not on Zoom.

            Tuesday Breakfast (Could there be a more mundane name?) began with four women in 2010.  As we rode home together after a girls’ weekend at Fairfield Glade, we talked about how good it felt to laugh and cry and play games and stay up late and wear pajamas all day.  Just women, who often gathered with husbands for Friday night suppers and to celebrate birthdays.

            “We could visit together in Cookeville,” one said.  We all agreed.  Not overnight, but regular visits. Maybe monthly?  No, how about every other week?  Not a weekend day or Monday or Friday.  Tuesday.  Maybe out for lunch?  No, breakfast.  Not too early. How about 9:00?  And with that Tuesday Breakfast formed.

            We met at Algood Diner, moving with it from Algood to its location on Willow Avenue.  When this diner closed, we tried several home-cooking, table-service restaurants before settling at Grandma’s Pancake House. 

            One friend moved out of town and others joined us.  Now, one person sends a reminder text on Monday mornings, and even a message saying, ‘Can’t make it this time!’ connects us. Every other week since 2010, Tuesday Breakfast has been on my calendar. That’s about 1000 breakfasts!

            March, 2020, the world shut down. Tuesday Breakfast at Grandma’s was cancelled. We took folding chairs and sat six feet apart in one friend’s driveway under huge shade trees.  We ate our brown bag lunches or snacks or whatever.  We talked loudly, often repeating what was said because everyone couldn’t hear.  We didn’t touch each other’s stuff.  We waved good-bye.  When cold weather hit, we met mid-day during the warmest part of a day.  And during the coldest months, we Zoomed, holed up in our homes, and ate together across screens.

            Finally, after sixteen months, six Tuesday Breakfast friends sat shoulder-to-shoulder and just inches across the table from each other at Grandma’s Pancake House.  We laughed about dropping food on ourselves.  Laughed so hard that one of us snorted and some wiped tears.  We laughed about things that happened yesterday and years ago.  

            We ate slowly.  Talking and listening are our soul food.  No topic – except some politics – is off limits. We complain and whine.  We praise and share happy times.  A grandchild scoring a soccer goal gets applause.  We share patterns and recipes. We share concerns and problems.  We ask for prayers.

            Before the pandemic, I didn’t fully appreciate Tuesday Breakfast. Last week, it felt so good, so heart- lifting, so comforting to be with these women who are a circle of acceptance and care.              

Last week, we hugged. 

Would You Rather?

My eight-year-old Grand ripped the wrapping paper off his birthday gift and said, “Oh, great! A Would You Rather? book!”  He immediately opened his new book and said, “Who wants to play?”

            Was the book a game? According to the book’s cover, it’s a game book of 300 questions for kids, ages 6-12.  Son read a question aloud, “Would you rather lick the bathroom floor or be toilet paper?”

            Birthday Boy said, “No!” His older brother yelled “Yuck! Neither!”  His younger sister held her nose, grimaced, and shook her head.  Son, Daughter 2 (aka daughter-in-law), Husband and I laughed and the kids insisted we answer.  Neither was our answer.

            Author Simon D. May would not have accepted our answers.  He stated two rules in his book.  1. You have to choose between the two possible answers and be creative and silly and try to make other people laugh.  2. Have fun with all those around you while spending time together. 

            While Husband and I visited our Grands and their parents, who live an airplane ride away, would you rather questions did make all of us laugh and we had some funny and some serious conversations.

            Would you rather eat two live worms or have worms crawling over your body for three hours? We talked off and on about this question for two days.  Do you have to chew the worms?  Could you chop them into small pieces and put chocolate syrup over them?  How about putting them in a smoothie with ice cream and strawberries?  If they’re little worms, you could swallow them quickly and then drink something fast.  What would happen to worms inside your body?

            Could you sit in a bathtub filled with water while the worms crawled on you?  It might feel relaxing.  Or eerie!  It’d make your skin crawl! Three hours, 180 minutes, is a long time – longer than a movie! Finally, most of us agreed that eating two worms could be done quickly and three hours was too long.

            Would you rather turn into a bird when you cry or turn into an owl when you laugh?  My Grands chirped and squealed and hooted to imitate birds.  Could it be any bird? Would you be a human when you weren’t crying or laughing?  What if you just barely laughed?

            The choices of some questions were completely unrelated.  Would you rather give up Netflix or eat the same breakfast for the rest of your life?  Many were about eating, especially eating worms and insects.  Would you rather eat a worm or a bowl full of cockroaches? And some were too gross to talk about – like the bathroom floor and toilet paper question.

            Mr. May states on the inside cover of the book that the questions are silly, hilarious, outrageous, daydreaming, and challenging. The cover could say for all ages, for anyone who likes to laugh and be silly and have fun with others.  

            Would You Rather? is on my birthday wish list. 

There’s Always Something

Do you ever run out of something to write about?  If I had a quarter for every time I’ve been asked this question, I’d buy all my Grands ice cream cones every week.  

            When I committed to write this weekly column eleven years ago, I had many stories about my young Grands.  My friend, writing mentor, and fellow Herald-Citizen columnist, Jennie Ivey, told me that when I ran out of those stories, I could look around, listen, and read, and there would always be something to write about.  Jennie was right. 

            The problem is too many things.  Topics swirl in my head and I sometimes begin several columns before choosing one.  But this week, that didn’t work.  Bits and pieces keep churning in my thoughts.

            Last Monday for the first time our oldest Grand, age 16, drove alone to our house, and my eyes watered, a lump filled my throat.  Samuel came to spend the night with Husband and me. This Grand began staying overnight when he was a toddler.  By the time he was three, he stayed one night a week.  Thru the years, he and his siblings have taken turns – each week one spends the night at our house.

            The next day, before Samuel drove his family’s little red truck out of our driveway, we hugged and he said, “Thanks, Gran. I had lots of fun.”  Right now, this Grand knows love through food.  When we feed him, he’s happy. I’m thankful every time he takes his overnight turn because there’ll be the day when he’ll say, “It’s okay.  You can skip me.”  Then I’ll wipe big tears.

            You know that June is National Fresh Fruit and Vegetable month, don’t you?  I thought June was Dairy Month.  According to nationaldaycalendar.com, this month also celebrates cats, the great outdoors, country cooking, turkey lovers (shouldn’t that be November?), zoos and aquariums, accordion awareness, and more. Twenty-five in all. 

            I could write about fruits and vegetables.  About garden-fresh green onions and lettuce available now and buying produce at Farmer’s Market. My mouth waters for summer tomatoes and a mess of green beans. 

             Bird-watching is entertaining.  When birds began building a nest in my new bluebird box, I was as excited as a first-time daddy who passes out cigars.  From a distance, I watched birds dart in and out of the small hole and thought they were really brightly colored bluebirds. Using binoculars, Husband identified them as tree swallows.

            I studied tree swallows and blue birds in my bird identification book and then discovered that for years I’ve called House Finches by the wrong name: Purple Finches. I learn something every single day.

            It’s time for the WCTE Great TV Auction!  Check it out at https://wcte.givesmart.com

            Why is it that minutes after I carry my laptop computer outside to write my neighbor starts mowing his yard?             Grands. National Days. Animals. Local happenings. There’s always something to write about.  And for backup, there’s a bulging folder labeled ‘Possible Columns’ filled with notes beginning 2011.

You got any Strawberry Jam?

“Hey, Gran, you got any strawberry jam?” When my Grands ask this, they mean homemade Strawberry Freezer Jam and they know the answer is yes.  

            As long as I can slice and chop and stir and pour, there’ll always be strawberry jam in my freezer.  It’s a family tradition. Mom served homemade jellies and jams alongside hot Martha White biscuits, and her strawberry jam was my favorite.

            After I married, Mom gave me jars of strawberry jam for my birthday. It was a gift of work and love; she picked the berries from Dad’s and her strawberry patch and washed, chopped, and cooked. My children ate peanut butter and strawberry jam sandwiches so I get a bit sentimental when my Grands do the same.

            Last week as I watched twelve-year-old Annabel stir peanut butter and jam together in a bowl and then spread it on bread to make her sandwich, I remembered that both her mother and I had done the same at her age. And another Grand, age 10, takes PB & J sandwiches in his school lunch bag every day so he makes five sandwiches at one time and freezes them to have throughout the week. 

            Strawberry jam isn’t just for biscuits and sandwiches.  Have you tried it on cornbread?  That’s 10-year-old Lucy’s favorite.  Her older sister, Elsie slathers sour dough rolls with butter and jam.   Muffins baked with a spoonful of jam in the middle are a treat. A plain soda cracker topped with strawberry jam would probably be tasty – a bite of salty sweetness.

            Strawberry Freezer Jam could be called Congealed Strawberry Sugar since the ingredients are twice as much sugar as fruit and pectin.  One time to cut cost, I used a less expensive store-brand sugar and the jam never “set-up,” but it was delicious ice cream topping.  I learned my lesson: use name brand, high quality sugar. 

            But all pectin may be the same. Because only store-brand pectin was available where I shopped recently, I took a chance and bought two boxes.  Last week, I made six recipes of jam, four with expensive name brand pectin that I’d bought earlier, and two with the cheaper store-brand.  There’s not a smidgen of difference in the taste or consistency.  

            I’m sentimental about jam jars.  Store bought jelly jars and recycled grape jelly jars work well, but my granny’s snuff glasses with tin tops that Mom filled fifty years ago are my favorites.  Last week, my Grand teased me as she wiped clean the tops of the filled jars and put lids on them.  “Gran, what if someone thinks it’s snuff?” she asked.   

            Six recipes make a lot of jam – thirty cups!  All eight Grands, those who live across town and those who live an airplane ride away, eat it.  And jam in tightly sealed plastic containers travels well inside a suitcase.

            A day spent making jam is a day well spent.  It isn’t just about good eating for my Grands – it’s also reliving happy memories.

Congrats to Grad’s Parents

He wore his blue mortar board and blue gown with pride.  When his name was called, he held his head high and grinned ear-to-ear as the school’s headmaster placed a diploma in his hand.  Like all graduates, he’d successfully completed the course of study, but no one needed to ask what his plans were after graduation.  When the next school year begins in August, Micah will be in first grade.

            As parents and grandparents took pictures, I thought of my longtime friend who questioned why schools held graduation ceremonies for young children.  In fact, she hardly recognized her children’s high school graduations because they were expected to graduate from universities and then complete masters’ degrees, and preferably, doctorates.  After that, the family would celebrate. 

            Thirty years ago, I understood my friend’s reasoning, but now I’m glad to celebrate each and every successful step of education.  I applauded my Grand as he graduated from kindergarten and his big sister who graduated from 8th grade.

            Across our county many graduation ceremonies, ranging from preschool through doctorate degrees,have been held recently.  Children can graduate many times, depending on the exit grade of their schools: preschool, kindergarten, 4th grade, 8th grade, high school, Tennessee Tech University.

            During graduation ceremonies, speakers congratulate, challenge, inspire, and encourage the graduates.  But who does the same for the parents?  Why isn’t there a graduation speech for parents?

            Congratulations, parents!  Enjoy the moment.  Breathe deeply.  Relax. You did your part. Take a few days off and gloat.  Pat yourself and your new graduates on the back.  Your children’s successes are your successes. 

            You fed, clothed, transported, and bought books, paper, pencils, and poster board.  You helped your children with school work at home and patiently watched, or did your own work nearby, while they finally figured out how to solve the last math equation. 

            You wiped tears and hugged. You heard about teachers who gave too much homework and teachers who didn’t grade fairly and friends who weren’t really friends. 

             Now, challenge your children to continue learning.  Show them, by your example that in real life, outside a classroom, there are opportunities to learn. Challenge them to learn something new every day, even though it won’t be on a test. 

            Read. Read. Read. Read aloud.  Read silently. Read together. Read signs and books and newspapers (printed and online) and the back of a cereal box and Lego directions. 

            Show children that learning is fun.  Play games. There’s a fine line between letting children win and squashing children’s confidence by always losing.  Let them experience victory and defeat.  

            Encourage children to try. The quote I kept on my classroom wall read, “It’s okay to try and fail, and try and fail again.  But it’s not okay to try and fail, and fail to try again.”  Share your successes and failures.

            Parents, no matter the age of your graduates, they will always be your children.  And they’ll always want you to celebrate with them.  So, celebrate all graduations.  You’re making happy memories.

Bacon is Mighty Good Eating

Bacon doesn’t have to be cooked in long, flat slices.  Twist it, roll it, or fold it.  

            Bacon spirals are the all the rage, according to some online sources, and they are simple to make.  Preheat the oven to 350º or 375ºF and line a baking sheet, that has sides, with aluminum foil.  Spray the foil with a cooking spray.  Twist each piece of bacon a few times and place it on baking sheet.  Bake about 30 minutes until the bacon is browned and crisp enough to hold its shape. 

            Because the bacon is twisted, many slices can be baked on one pan.  To make Spiced Bacon Twists, coat slices with a mixture of brown sugar, mustard powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne pepper.    

            While reading online about bacon spirals, an advertisement for bacon roses popped up.  A half-dozen bacon roses in a vase is $45.00 and a dozen in a loose bouquet is available for $66.00.  Prices don’t include tax and shipping.  There are special offers for Father’s Day gifts, and the ad boasts that bacon roses were popular gifts for Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day.

            What’s a bacon rose?  A bacon slice rolled tightly and topped with brown sugar.  You can make this special gift.  Thread a toothpick through a bacon strip at one end, then roll up tightly about one-third of the way.  Twist the bacon strip clockwise to form points for rose petals.  Secure the bottom of the rolled bacon with two crisscrossed toothpicks so the rose will stand up. 

            Place bacon roses on a foil-lined baking pan with sides or in a muffin tin. Sprinkle each rose with a pinch of brown sugar and bake about 20 minutes in a 400 ºF oven.  Cool, remove the toothpicks, and stick a skewer into the bottom of each rose so it looks like a rose on a stem.  Your cost will be much less than $66.00 per dozen.

            Bacon roses aren’t as delicious as Special Oven Bacon, a tried-and-true recipe. Lay thick bacon slices, cut in half, on a broiling pan or a baking pan. Sprinkle a mixture of ¾ cup brown sugar and one heaping tablespoon flour over the bacon.  Then sprinkle with ½ cup finely chopped pecans and bake at 350º F for thirty minutes. 

            Have you tried folded bacon?  When my friend served really thick short slices of bacon, I learned a new way to cook it.  Fold a slice in half, end to end, and then cook your favorite way – fried in a black skillet, baked in the oven, or microwaved.  Folded bacon cooks evenly and the perfect size for a BLT, and it’s easy – much too easy – to pick up for a mid-morning snack.

            I baked a whole pan of bacon – some twisted, some rolled, some folded.  No matter the shape, crispy bacon is mighty good eating.  As long as it’s ‘pig bacon,’ as my Grand said when he was 5, and not turkey bacon that his mother sometimes served.

P. S. Because I made only 4 roses, I baked them in ramekins.