Whew, I have to finally admit that the combination of work, excitement of the holidays and my never ending sinus infection and annoying three-week old cold has gotten the best of me. I'm exhausted to the point that I can't sleep.
However, tonight is New Years Eve, and I have guests coming to our home. I'm supposed to cook -- you know that whole Paula Dean thing -- and although I love to spend hours in the kitchen remembering my family by cooking their recipes, I'm feeling a bit lazy today.
It's blasphemous, but I think I'm going to enjoy my time off and relax with a little nap.
Now understand, my loveable housemate and fellow reporter Jason Jacobs has offered to do all the cooking so I can afford this luxury, but guilt will get the better of me.
At some point before 7 p.m., I will find my way into the kitchen to cook.
My Grandma Iva, a woman who never stopped working, impressed upon me an incredible work ethic.
"If something needs done, you might as well do it yourself," she'd tell me. "You're the only person who is really responsible for your own life. If you want something done, stop your witching that it isn't getting done and simplify your life. Just do it yourself, but do it in a way that you can handle it."
Although I grew up thinking she was Super Woman, there were times when Grandma Iva simplified recipes to allow her the luxury of fellowship with the people she cooked for.
One recipe (as far as I know it was her of her own design) that my family loves is cheeseburger salad.
Created on a one hot summer day when no one wanted to hover over a hot grill, but everyone wanted cheeseburgers, Grandma Iva served this unexpected twist on chicken salad.
In a preheated 375 degree oven, arrange the tops and bottoms of hamburger buns in a pan before spreading store bought (or make your own to taste) garlic butter on top and baking them until they are a light golden brown. Should take about10-15 minutes.
Meanwhile, brown one pound of ground chuck in a skillet with two tablespoons of crushed garlic, one minced yellow onion and salt and pepper to taste. Drain the grease completely and let cool (or, if you're in a hurry, put the meat in the freezer for a few minutes).
You can fry seasoned side-pork or bacon to add to the salad, but I cheat and use the Real Bacon Bits.
Place one roughly chopped red onion, a 1/2-cup of your favorite chopped pickles (we like a mix of dill and bread and butter pickles), 4-6 cups of finely shredded lettuce (we like Romaine) and 1-2 cups of your favorite cheese (we like a combination of Swiss and Cheddar) into a cold metal bowl.
Toss the ingredients with a sauce made of 3/4-cup ketchup, 1-2 tablespoons of mustard, a dash of Worchester sauce and a couple drops of Tabasco sauce for spice.
When the meat (and bacon if you're using any) is cooled, add it to the metal bowl and toss again.
Tomatoes are a part of this salad, but you have to decide when you want to add them.
If you add them to the metal bowl, and the salad is going to sit for a while, it could get soupy, which you might not like. (If adding to the salad, I like to use grape tomatoes because they are very sweet and don't add much liquid.)
If using slicing tomatoes, we hold off and add them right before making the sandwiches or cut them into slices as garnish.
Assemble the sandwiches on the garlic buns they way you want to (it's a great way to add anything else you like on a burger, like barbeque sauce, French Fried onions or onion rings) so you can enjoy an unusual, yet yummy cheeseburger salad.
On this New Years Day of 2009, I hope the kindness shared with others returns many fold to all of you who have spent a moment in an effort to get to know your fellow humans for who they are, and not pass judgment for who you think they are.
May the blessings of hope, love, friendship and renewal fulfill your heart, mind and soul throughout the 365 days of 2009.
Remember loved ones who have passed with affection while taking time to create memories and share the food of life with the people in your lives.
God bless and Happy New Year!!!