Real Cooking

It’s Tina. Tina is the survivor of “Survivor,” that television show that has captured the attention of a nation.

At least I think the winner is Tina. That’s what I was told by someone who is a faithful viewer of the reality game show that pits men and women against hunger, the environment and each other in order to win big money.

Tina outwitted and outlasted everyone living off the land in the Outback of Australia. She ate, I was told, mostly rice-and she lost, I was told, a lot of weight. And she was nice. Or so I was told.

I guess I need to confess that in the two seasons that “Survivor” has been in existence, I have watched only a portion of one episode. It just never caught my imagination. There was something about watching people physically suffer for money and being so cutthroat that got under my skin.

Note: If you enjoy “Survivor,” I’m not making any judgment calls here. I just don’t care for it, much like I don’t care for watermelon. I know most people do, but I don’t.

As far as reality game shows go, I like “The Mole.” The contestants have to use their heads, there’s a lot of strategizing, and these folks get to go to a hotel or a private chateau for the night. And they eat like civilized people with gourmet meals and bottles of wine.

Beds, bathrooms, bottled water, air conditioning, five-course meals. I would be willing to be a contestant on a “reality” game show like that.

Anyway, Tina is the survivor. OK. She stayed out in the boonies with a bunch of strangers and ate rice and bugs-or whatever. Big whoop.

Here’s what I call surviving.

This week I drove my kids to ball practices and lessons for dance, piano and trombone. I readied costumes for dance pictures and the fifth-grade production of “Oliver Twist.” I took my daughter to the optometrist.

On Tuesday and then again on Thursday I cooked lunch for 25 people. Don’t ask me why.

I cleaned and did laundry. I cooked our own meals and shopped for groceries and for the other necessities of life. I taught a class of 20 11- and 12-year-old girls. And I wrote a column for the Hillsboro Free Press.

And that was all before the weekend rolled around. Friday was busy with an unexpected trip to Wichita followed by two performances of “Oliver Twist.”

Saturday and Sunday were filled with going to a softball tournament in Council Grove. My daughter, Meghan, is a member of the “Crush,” a team comprised of girls from Marion County that will be playing tournament ball on some weekends throughout the summer.

This is a new experience for us. My kids have played summer rec ball since they were big enough to hit the T-ball. But going to tournaments is something all together different.

For one thing, it’s not over in 60 minutes.

For another, it seems that one must bring half the house to the ball field. Blankets, cushions, lawn chairs, coolers for water and snacks, sunscreen, contact lens stuff (just in case), jackets (if it gets cool), shorts (if it gets hot), Tylenol, Band-Aids, Pepto-Bismol (rather be safe than sorry), etc., etc., etc.

And this weekend was wet and rainy so there was the added joy of rain delays and mud-lots and lots of mud.

And the only lady’s restroom was “out of order” most of Saturday afternoon-not good at a girl’s softball tournament. But the girls had fun, they showed signs of improvement with every game they played and the parents bonded over cups of coffee and bottles of sunscreen.

And we survived.

Tina won a million dollars for surviving her ordeal. I got sunburn. But I wouldn’t have missed it for the world.

When I think of survivors, my mind doesn’t go immediately to Tina and-oh, that naked guy who won last year. No, my mind goes to people like Shirley Baltzer, music instructor at Hillsboro Elementary, who puts her heart and soul into teaching our children to not only appreciate music, but how to perform it.

Shirley spends countless tiring hours after school making sets, sewing costumes, and finding props for the many productions the kids put on throughout each school year. All on her own time, sometimes at her own expense. Year after year. She’s a survivor.

I think of Vicky Mohn who also has a love for the children of our community. The annual dance recital for Vicky’s School of Dance will be held this upcoming Mother’s Day weekend and you can be sure Vicky will be working late every night getting things ready-even while preparing for her own daughter’s graduation. She’s done it year after year. She’s a survivor.

Hillsboro Rec director Lonnie Isaac also comes to mind. With the summer crunch of activity, Lonnie has to step up and deal with kids and coaches, schedules and funding. And parents with agendas. Year after year. He’s a survivor.

There are lots of others I could name. Hillsboro’s Mayor Delores Dalke, Carol Wiebe, Aldina Franz-they all work countless hours to make our community better. Year after year. Survivors.

And those who have lived through disease, abuse, divorce or the loss of someone dear-they are the true survivors.

Makes eating a few bugs and living in a lean-to look like a walk in the park.

So here’s to those of us who survive the challenges that each day brings-in going to work, in rearing decent children, in making our marriages function, in making our world a better place, and in living out our faith.

Tina, you’ve got nothing on us.

* * *

After the girls’ softball games ended on Saturday night, some of us found our way to the legendary Hays House restaurant for a bite to eat before making our way back home. One of the highlights of the meal was the delicious salad dressing, obviously homemade, that was served at the salad bar.

During dinner, conversation turned to where the Crush would be playing next and where we could go for meals. This summer might be filled with not only a lot of ball playing, but eating at some of Kansas’ best restaurants. It should be fun.

I noticed on our way out that the Hays House had published a cookbook of their favorite recipes and after a quick flip through, I decided to add another cookbook to my collection.

And I’m glad I did. Not only did I find the recipe for the salad dressing that we had enjoyed, but several others that I can’t wait to try.

Hays House Dill Dressing

1 cup sour cream

2/3 cup Hellmann’s mayonnaise

1 tsp. dried onion flakes

1 tsp. dried parsley flakes

1 tsp. dill weed

1 tsp. Lowry’s seasoned salt

1/4 tsp. garlic granules

1/3 cup milk

Mix and refrigerate overnight before serving. Leave out the milk to use as a dip.

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