Susan Marie Molloy

Life in the Oasis


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Today is So Long Ago

Last night became a time to think about time.

While straightening up the house and closing the shutters for the night, I passed by our Christmas tree. This glass ornament caught my eye:I received it from one of my 6th grade students, and it was so long ago, I had to whip out my abacus and figure out how old he must be by now.

Twenty-eight. Twenty-eight years old.

That really took me aback. And if you look in the picture, you might see a red candle ornament (yes, right there to the right of the snowman) my Ma made about thirty-three years ago. So long ago.

It was only a couple of years ago I was learning to play piano, and got this music book:

The day after Thanksgiving, my parents put this cheesy Santa Claus and his reindeer on the knickknack shelf in the kitchen:


Last week, every lady had glittery plastic corsages on her coat:


On December 6th, each one of us kids put one of these plastic managers on our dressers:
Yesterday, my grandparents put their tulle tree on their coffee table:


Today will someday become “so long ago—

©Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

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This Pilgrim Thanks You

Thank you for a marvelous year. Because of you and your support, and my beau’s encouragement, I got down to brass tacks and published many of my chapbooks and an anthology of my poetry, and blogging is more or less on a schedule. I’ve made new writing colleagues here on WordPress and discovered a plethora of good writers and their blogs and books, thanks mostly to Mister The Militant Negro ™, who has done a fabulous job in sharing your great blogs on the arts, cooking writing, photography, et cetera.

I wish you a memorable, happy, and thankful Thanksgiving (if you celebrate it).

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Soup: Good for Memories

It’s that time of year again: Jackets, sweaters, long pants, and soup.

During the cold months, soup is one of the seasonal foods I make. Sure, occasionally I’ll make cold gazpacho or cucumber soup in the summer, but soup-making is a fall and winter kitchen pursuit for me. Give me czarnina (a Polish duck soup) or Dad’s oxtail soup on a chilly November day!

I grew up on the northwest side of Chicago in a time where, if Mom and Dad weren’t from the Old Country, at least Grandma and Grandpa were. It was from these generations that I learned how to cook and bake, and today I cherish the originals and copies of old family recipes.

Then there’s Pope’s cookbook from Antoinette Pope’s Cooking School in Chicago. Generally, it was the cooking bible in my family for anything outside of our Polish cuisine heritage. I wrote about it last year in “The Cook Book.”

Enough of the reminiscing; let’s get back to now.

Last weekend, I bought a large bone-in ham. I sliced and froze enough of the meat for sandwiches and ham salad. What was left were the bone and portions that aren’t good for much of anything but split pea soup. It turned out good, except I didn’t add enough split peas to make the soup a rich green. I misjudged. Nonetheless, it tasted good.

One of the best things I like on days I make soup, or bake cookies or bread from scratch (is there any other way?), is the way the house smells with all the sweet and savory aromas and herb fragrances that bring my thoughts back to childhood, when my parents made all those wonderful foods we kids grew up on.

Good times. Good food. Fabulous memories.

“From Pot to Bowl”

To make this soup:

Ingredients
Ham bone, with some meat left on
1 bay leaf
1 cup ham, cut into small cubes
1/2 bag split peas, rinsed and soaked overnight in warm water
2 carrots, washed and cut into cubes
6 peppercorns
1/4 cup finely chopped onion
Flour, about 1 or 2 Tablespoons
3 Tablespoons butter
Salt and pepper, to taste

1. In large pot, place ham bone, add bay leaf, and cover with cold water. Simmer 1-1/2 hours. Skim off any scum that forms on top.
2. Remove from heat and place in refrigerator overnight.
3. The next day — Skim off fat that formed on soup’s surface and remove ham bone. Strain broth to remove any pieces of fat, unwanted bone, and bay leaf. Return broth to washed, clean pot.
4. Place on stove over low flame. Add split peas, carrots, peppercorns; simmer 1 hour, or until peas are soft and carrots are cooked.
5. Make roux:
In separate saucepan, melt butter. Add onions; sauté until clear and tender. Turn off flame. Add flour to make roux, adding a little of the soup broth to make a smooth paste. Add to soup.
6. Add ham cubes; heat through.  Season with salt and pepper and serve.

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.


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Pushing It

I am just old enough to remember when Christmas decorations in the stores went up the day after Thanksgiving, which was the same day Christmas carols started playing on the radio, and families in the old neighborhood put up their outside decorations, come mild or bitter cold breezes off Lake Michigan. In fact, it was a treat to go Downtown to see what Marshall Field’s window themes were for any given year, but you couldn’t do that until after Thanksgiving.

Slowly, decorations and the not-so-subtle hinting at great store bargains began creeping up before Thanksgiving, and so much so that well, nowadays you can stick your head into any one of several ginormous arts-crafts-sewing stores, and yes, The Decorations are up and serenaded by Eartha Kitt belting out “Santa Baby.” In July. Or – gasp! – June.

My Ma told me that when she was growing up, nobody put up decorations – including at home – until Christmas Eve. If you watch old movies (like I do), you might see the same craziness in any given Holiday-themed movie. I could be mistaken, but Barbara Stanwyck didn’t put up her tree until Christmas Eve in the 1945 movie, “Christmas in Connecticut.” And if I remember my history right, it was Franklin Delano Roosevelt who got the ol’ ball rolling with asking stores to start their Christmas season right after Thanksgiving. It was to get the draggy Great Depression economy rolling again, you know.

I’m not blaming anyone for the whole moving-Christmas-up-and-up-and-up. It’s just that it would be so nice to have that spirit, that goodwill feeling, that feeling of brotherhood and love all year ‘round, or at least during the six months’ time those decorations are up and Der Bingle starts dreaming of his ”White Christmas.”  People have become so numb and zombie-like with every holiday, in fact.

I read a tract somewhere wherein a priest wrote that in the anticipation of a baby’s birth, the joy of it coming didn’t end on the day it was born. In fact, the greater joy came on its birth day, and continued well past that day, throughout the years. Conversely, with Christmas, people have all this joy and merry-making for Jesus’ birth (if that’s how they observe the holy day), but it fizzles out the day after Christmas. I found that interesting, and it makes sense.  But it doesn’t.   What has Christmas become? You and I know that answer.

Still, I’d like that total societal feeling of consideration, love, and cordialness year ‘round, but maybe that’s too “Pollyanna,” and I’ve become jaded.

But it is worth a try. Isn’t it?

What I saw this past week:

“From the newspaper and around town.”

©2017 Susan Marie Molloy and all works within.

 


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Thank You and My Best to You

th80cxp9r72017Thank you for your support in reading my blog, purchasing my books, and your overall encouragement! You all are instrumental, and I couldn’t have done all I’ve accomplished in writing without you. Positive attitude is where’s it at, so here’s to a happy, healthy, prosperous, and optimistic 2017! I have every reason to see 2017 as an unprecedented great year . . .

As ever,

Susan