Real Cooking

There are times when I think too much. At least that’s what some people may say. And some might be inclined to theorize that I make things bigger than they really are by borrowing trouble and manufacturing mountains out of molehills.

Maybe they’re correct. I readily admit that on more than one occasion I have found it extremely difficult to turn off the voices that crowd my brain with the “what ifs…” and the “yes, buts…” and the “that’s not rights.”

And even though I have a tendency to brood, I don’t consider my “thinking” as worrying. I’m inclined to be a proactive person and worry just seems a waste of the two things that I have the shortest supply of…time and energy.

But at the same time, it is seldom that there isn’t something bothering me. The inequality of life, the injustices of the everyday, the insane pace that our society insists upon.

And it really irks me to see others turn a blind eye to issues that I think deserve attention-whether that be in my own family, my church, my community, my country or my world.

This constant awareness is both a blessing and a curse. There have been instances when I have been able to recognize a problem while it was still in its infancy. And I would much rather confront a small problem head on and deal with it then and there rather than be complacent. I don’t know of any problems that just go away-they only get bigger and more complicated.

That’s the upside. The downside is that at times, my “thinking” can cause a lot of stress in my life, which manifests itself into a literal pain in the neck. And in the shoulders and, at least for the last two weeks, in my jaw.

I guess I’ve been unknowingly clenching my teeth. The pain in my jaw got so bad this week that I visited the clinic to make sure that I hadn’t contracted tetanus or some other life threatening disease. Just stress. Just clenching. Take some Advil, get some rest. Relax.

Relax. I’ve got two teenagers involved in lessons, school and sports and a farmer-husband who keeps looking toward the sky for measurable moisture. I love my job at the elementary school, but I’m constantly wondering how to reach this child or how to better serve that one.

We’ve got a wrecked van that needs replacing-maybe, Keith is still pondering the pros and cons-a house that is still in mid-remodel, two guinea pigs that are growing balder by the moment and a toilet that continues to run even after you jiggle the handle.

Let’s not talk about my yard. Or the housework. Or the church. Or the countless other concerns of my day-to-day life.

Relax. My mind won’t shut down long enough to relax. My thoughts run rampant with questions like:

How long will it be before our nation is engaged in a full-scale war against Iraq?

Why is it that when I watched a group of Chinese school children stand and recite in unison the words from Chairman Mao’s Little Red Book-words about a united nation, words that spoke of the equality of man-my thoughts were “Oh, these poor little indoctrinated tykes.”

Yet when our own elementary school children surround the flagpole and recite the Pledge of Allegiance, I’m suppose to feel patriotic?

The events of Sept. 11 need to be remembered. The persons who lost their lives should be memorialized. The emergency workers should be recognized.

But when does appreciating one’s country and those who serve her start to creep into pure jingoism?

What makes a hero? Wearing a uniform? Or is it a teacher that comforts a child and explains why terrible things happen in the world. Is it a pastor that prays for peace or a victim’s family that carries on in the aftermath?

As a nation, we rightfully mourn the deaths of the 3,000 persons who lost their lives when terrorists attacked the United States. But why don’t we seem to care about the thousands of souls who lost their lives in a fiery explosion in Bhopal, India, allegedly due to the willfully flawed design and safety systems of an American Union Carbide pesticide plant?

Eight thousand people lost their lives Dec. 3, 1984, in Bhopal. Since then, more than 20,000 persons have succumbed from the long-term effects of the poisoning. About 30 people die each month because the American plant was trying to save money. After almost 20 years, the case is still in litigation and the people continue to suffer both physically and monetarily.

Do we care? If we don’t, why not?

Maybe it’s like this. I remember sitting with a group in a church setting when we began discussing some events that were happening in the world. The person who was leading the discussion suggested that we pray about the situation.

After concluding the prayer, one man about my age, whom I always thought of as a “spiritual type,” stated he would have never thought to pray for somebody outside of his own family, friends or church. My heart broke. And my brain raced.

Why? I kept asking myself. Why?

* * *

Dove season is here and the mighty hunters have taken to the field. Keith and Alex haven’t brought anything home yet, but when they do I’ll be ready with this recipe taken from the National Dove Association’s Web site. This is the original recipe, but I wonder if the cooking time is a bit long. There’s nothing drier than an overcooked game bird.

Bacon BBQ Bird

8 birds of your choice (dove, quail, grouse)

1 pound fresh bacon

1/2 cup Italian salad dressing

1 Tbs. paprika

1 tsp. ground sage

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

salt and pepper

Marinate birds in Italian dressing overnight. Pat dry and then season with paprika, sage, garlic, salt and pepper. Wrap each bird with bacon slices. If you use more than one slice of bacon to cover the bird, match the seams on the same side. Place the birds on a medium-hot grill, bacon seam side down. Cover and grill for 15 minutes. Test the bird with a fork. If it is not tender, cook an additional 15 minutes.

Serve with baked beans. After the birds are done, throw the bacon into your pot of beans for excellent seasoning

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