Friday, September 24, 2010

A special birthday dinner

Today's Tim's birthday - and his first without his mom.  My heart breaks for him, as his past two birthdays have been emptier, through the losses we've endured.  My wish for him today was happiness and I set about planning surprises here and there hoping to bring extra smiles and love into his day.

If June were still here with us, she'd have called Tim this morning and said each of her boy's names before she made it to him.  He would've laughed and shook his head and then she'd invited him for lunch for his favorite meal...fried chicken.

Now June could fry about the best chicken I've ever had.  What was so odd is that she didn't really have a secret.  The Colonel would be jealous because June didn't need 11 herbs and spices, she just used love.  But whatever her method, it worked and it was delicious.  Fried chicken didn't last but a minute when she cooked it and you'd better load your plate with how much you wanted on the first trip or be hungry in the end!

I'm so very thankful for the day I asked her to come over and teach me, even though it got a chuckle from her.  She'd get a big grin on her face and say, "There's nothing to it.  You just dip it and roll it in flour and fry it."  But, she humored me anyway and I wouldn't trade that afternoon for anything.  I will never be the cook she was but Tim's pretty happy with the fried chicken I can produce now. 

June never was much into following recipes, especially for the foods she'd spent her whole life cooking.  She did finally tell me over the phone one day the ingredients she used for her dressing, Tim's other favorite food of hers.  After many Thanksgiving efforts, I can now say that she'd be proud of my representation of her two famous dishes.  But that's the extent of it.  I can't make her dumplings.  I won't even attempt her Jam cake.  And she'd laugh along with me as I say this - I can't do mashed potatoes.

This was the strangest thing to June.  It couldn't be a simpler dish to her (and much to my dismay, I agree!) but I just can't get it right.  They are too lumpy, or too salty, or too milky, or something.  It's just easier to throw a Bob Evans in the microwave and call it a day.  Tim and Noah are happier and it is a lot less work.

So, that's been my afternoon.  I've spent the past hour or so frying chicken for my hubby who will soon be home.  Along with his other surprises throughout the day, I hope this dish brings him happiness and comfort - and that he feels a little bit of his Mom in it.  I know she's up there with Austin and they are both thinking of him today.  It just brings me joy that I can share a piece of her with every plate of fried chicken I serve.


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