Real Cooking

It was 7:30 in the evening and Keith still hadn’t made it back from our dairy in Kingman. Earlier that day, he had left to take a trailer full of heifers to their new quarters at our farm out west and even though I knew that hauling a trailer would slow him down, I had expected him home by supper time.

I wasn’t particularly concerned that he had been delayed by any sort of trouble. We had been in contact by telephone during the day and everything on his end was going smoothly.

I wasn’t mad, either. We had no appointments that needed to be kept -no chore that needed his immediate attention.

And I’ve been married to a farmer long enough to understand the “code.” For those who haven’t the same farm experience, let me give you a quick lesson. If a farmer says, “I’ll be there in 10 minutes,” what he really means is that he’ll show up in about 30.

If he says, “I’ll be back in an hour,” what he’s really telling you is, “Hopefully I’ll get back in time, but you know how things go.”

And if he says, “This (insert one: irrigation motor check, cultivating, swathing) shouldn’t take long,” what he’s really means is, “Don’t wait up.”

So when my husband said he would be back by supper, I took that to mean anytime between six and midnight.

But now it was 7:30 and I needed to make a decision. Should I wait for him to come home or should I just go ahead and feed the rest of us? It was possible, I thought, that by this time he might have stopped and grabbed a bite at a restaurant.

Or he might walk in at anytime expecting something with mashed potatoes and gravy. Maybe after a long day, he had his heart set on a hot, home cooked meal lovingly prepared by the “little woman.”

Sometimes I wish I had a “little woman” to cook mashed potatoes for me.

Anyway, I hadn’t given supper much thought until that moment. I had spent the afternoon and early evening knee deep in sorting out clothes gathered from my kids’ closets and I guess my mind was more on that project than on food.

You know the routine if you’re a mom and have had children going back to school-what can be worn for one more season, what needs to be handed on for someone else’s use, what needs extra cleaning or a button sewn back on.

I was still debating over what to do when the kids suggested a carryout from the Pizza Hut. I leapt at the chance and leapt toward the phone. You all know the number, say it with me: “947-5550.”

In 20 minutes, we were on our way into town to pick up our supper and as we traveled the route between home and “the Hut,” we passed the pond at Hillsboro Heights.

I don’t know about you, but our family has grown quite attached to the gaggle of Canadian geese that have made their home in Hillsboro’s newest commercial development. Every time we pass, we always look to see how they’re doing…how the goslings have grown, if they’re swimming on the pond.

That evening, as we drove past, we were delighted to see the entire family waddling single file down the street in front of Dollar General. We laughed all the way to the Pizza Hut, making up stories about how “the daddy goose” was probably taking his kids on a tour of the neighborhood.

On our return trip, we looked for them again. By now the geese were nearing Sonic, stopping oncoming traffic that was trying to turn into the fast-food restaurant.

“I guess they want a limeade or some onion rings,” my daughter laughed.

“That would be neat if you could go to Sonic and feed the geese,” said my animal-loving son. “It would be just like the zoo in Wichita.”

Maybe the owners of Sonic could add dried corn or day-old bread to their menu boards.

“Yes, I would like one double cheeseburger, one foot-long coney, a large onion ring, two limeades and oh, yes… a medium dried corn.”

Think about it. Hillsboro’s getting a movie theater and a Chinese restaurant, just like the big city. Why not a zoo, too?

* * *

Classes all over the state will soon be back in session. Here’s a recipe for a sweet mix that would be good for an after-school snack or packed up in a Zip-lock and sent along to a college dorm. The recipe comes from Melissa Bartel’s cousin Nancy, who lives in Topeka.

Nancy’s Crispix Mix

Mix together 12 cups of Crispix cereal and 12 oz. of cocktail peanuts in a large baking pan(s). In a large pan, bring two cups brown sugar, one cup butter, one-half cup white corn syrup to a boil.

Boil one minute, take off the heat and add one teaspoon baking soda, one teaspoon burnt sugar flavoring, one teaspoon vanilla, and one teaspoon butter flavoring. Mix until syrup appears creamy and airy. Pour over cereal mix and bake at 250 degrees for one hour, stirring every 15 minutes. Turn out on wax paper to cool.

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