Archive for August, 2014

A Day In The Life of Enid Clay

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A Day in the Life Of Enid Clay
By Dorothy A. Bell
September 1, 2014
More short stories

This is a simi-autobiographical account of a series of episodes in my life before knee replacement surgery. The names have been changed to protect the author. The events compacted for the sake of entertainment and the author’s sense of the ridiculous.

9:30 A.M., Unsuspecting, Enid Clay began her day.
Peering into her mirror, Enid assessed the damage the years had wrought. Sadly, the bloom had left the rose wrinkled, drab, colorless. A sarcastic sneer tugged at the corner of her delicate little mouth.
To her pathetically needy reflection, she doled out a begrudging positive, saying, “At least you’re not bald—yet.”
Abruptly, she turned away from her wilted aspect. The sudden movement set off a geyser of pain that shot up from her arthritis-riddled knees to her hips, up her spine, to the base of her skull where it rattled her brain.
With brown eyes tightly closed, she froze to wait out the assault. Once again able to breathe, she shuffled over to the doorway between her bathroom and the laundry. Huffing, she reached for the drier, then sidestepped into the kitchen doorway, where she stopped before making the final push to reach her kitchen counter and the sink.
Outside, a hummingbird shopped the jars of ruby liquid she’d hung in the branches of the willow. Craning her neck, she read the thermometer on the rail—it was already seventy-five degrees. A trip to the grocery store would get her out of the house. Perhaps today she’d wear her dress of filmy, flowered georgette. Having shed a couple of pounds, she reckoned she just might be able to button those buttons across the bodice.


* * * * *

At full throttle, blissfully optimistic, Enid rolled along on her little battery powered, three wheeled cart. Proudly sporting her flowy, flowery dress, a floppy straw hat on her head of died, ash-brown hair, her sunglasses with the butterfly wings perched on her perky, upturned nose.

Up ahead, she espied a landscaping project underway. Today a strip of chicken wire, attached to some slats, lay stretched half way down the bank and over the sidewalk. Like Mario Andretti in the Indy 500, Enid circumvented the hazard, veering her little cart into the grass, steering expertly, she turned back onto the sidewalk, right on course.

* * * * *

Shopping from a battery-powered cart is a tricky business. Obviously, grocery stores stock their shelves for the functionally mobile beings on two good legs. Enid, too short even if she had two good legs, seated on her cart, was decidedly handicapped. Shopping required careful planning and execution.

Although the day was beautiful, and Enid was looking particularly fine, she had no way of knowing that her stars were sadly out of alignment. Therefore, when she leaned into the freezer case, she unknowingly set off a series of unfortunate events that would go down as one of the most embarrassing days of her entire life. And that was saying something, because Enid had endured many, many embarrassing situations in her fifty-seven years of life.

* * * * *

Reaching out for a box of frozen bon-bons, the handlebar of her cart lodged in the door handle of the freezer-case. The cart lurched forward jerking the door off its hinges. Not all the way—but leaving it hanging drunkenly by one hinge at the top. The horror of the situation immobilized her. Her first concern: had anyone witnessed her vandalism? Looking right, left, all around—grateful, she found herself alone in the isle. Putting her cart in reverse, she attempted to straighten the door, but with no success.

Carefully disengaging her destructo-cart from the freezer door, she decided to forgo the bon-bons, they weren’t on her diet anyway, and she rolled on to tackle the meat counter.
A bit shaken, she reached over the side of the meat-case for a package of steak and the sleeve of her dress encased itself on the reverse throttle of her cart. When she turned her body to dislodge the fabric, the handlebar of her cart turned too, trapping her chubby bosom against the case.
Held prisoner, no use to fight, the final insult, her hat slipped forward and shoved her sunglasses down over her nose.

Two cold hands wrapped around her squishy waist. Enid squeaked. Her cart lurched forward. Set free, she shoved her hat off her face to find herself looking up into the grinning eyes of the butcher. He plucked her sunglasses off a package of sirloin and offered, saying, “If I can help, just ring the bell.”

Flustered, lips tight, she mumbled, and said “Thank you” retrieving her sunglasses. Mortified, she started to reach for the steak, then changed her mind, opting for the ground turkey—fewer calories, would last longer, all-round a better choice.

The butcher, hovering, anticipating her selection, handed it to her before she could make the attempt. “Allow me.”

Cheeks on fire, Enid, now mindful that the fates were playing with her, maneuvered her cart with care and a great deal of caution to the front of the store. Determined to confess, she explained to the clerk how she had accidentally torn the freezer door off its hinge.

The clerk suggested, in an unnecessarily snarky way, that perhaps Enid should shop with an attendant, as if she were some kind of addlepated, bumble-fub. Which Enid now felt that she was, but still, the chastisement scorched her dignity.

Feeling lower than a snails slime trail, Enid exited the store with her paltry turkey burger. Now the brilliance of the day struck her as irritating, and way too hot.

Catching sight of herself in the store window, Enid shook her head—her dress accentuated her tummy rolls, the colors in the fabric not at all flattering, the flower pattern far too busy for her small stature. The stupid hat was hideous.

But…. she did love her sunglasses.

Furious, whizzing along, Enid composed in her head a seething letter to the powers-that-be.
All freezer-case doors should be re engineered to accommodate the handicapped.

Nearing her home, convinced she was not at fault, she summarily dismissed the horrors of the grocery store fiasco as a fluke. Absolved, she marveled in the glory of the day, the beauty of the sky, the birds in the trees, the very air, sweet and warm—perfect.

Three city workers, doing something with the storm drains in the middle of the street, took her attention. They waved. She of course waved back. Consequently, she forgot to dodge the chicken wire hazard of the landscaping project.

Too late, she swerved to miss it!

The chicken wire snagged the hem of her dress. She felt the fabric tug at the empire-waist. In distress, she came to a complete stop and did the sensible thing—she backed up. In so doing, the skirt of her free-flowing dress wound up in the back wheels of her cart. The result, her dress tore at the gathered bodice, and more fabric wrapped around her rear tire.

Her fleshy, pink tummy exposed. Her bra and panties doing little to keep her modesty intact, she sat helpless to save her dignity, her sanity.

Rushing to her aid, the workmen set her free of the chicken wire. They rolled her lovely dress up in a wad and handed it to her. Unable to meet their eyes, she swallowed back her tears of humiliation. Her beautiful dress gathered about her, doing little to hide her nakedness or shield her from her humiliation, babbling her gratitude, she sped away.

Home, safe, she calmly parked her cart in its place in her laundry room. Shaking, she came to her feet. Arms out, she hugged her washing machine, the cool metal soothing her burning cheeks and the exposed flesh of her tummy.

In its rigidity, the machine’s inability to cast judgment gave her solace.
Enid cursed fate and circumstance. And yes, she needed a keeper—hell, she’d welcome a rubber room at the moment. Hugging the remnants of her pretty dress to her bosom she whimpered, “Oh, what the hell, just another day in the life of Enid Clay.”

Family Favorite Recipe

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Favorite Family Recipes

Grandma Cynthia’s Apple Dumplings
3 medium sized apples cut in half or 6 small apples pealed and cored. (Save peelings for syrup).

2 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¾ cup margarine or butter
5 and ½ tablespoons of ice water
Cut in ingredients as you would for a pie-crust. Roll the dough out thin on a floured surface. Cut into 6 squares. Place apples on the squares with cored side up, add cinnamon, nutmeg to taste, a squeeze of lemon or lemon rind or both.
Divide ¾ cup brown sugar among the dumplings, plus a dot of butter onto each apple.
With slightly damp fingers, wrap and pinch close each dumpling to form a pocket and place in a greased, deep-sided baking dish, then chill while preparing the syrup.

Bring to a boil 3 cups of water, 2 cups of granulated white sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. Reduce heat, add peelings, simmer for 20 minutes.
Pre-heat oven to 375.
Remove peels from the syrup, then add two tablespoons of margarine or butter and allow to sit until sugar is dissolved.
Brush the dumplings lightly with a beaten egg white; sprinkle with white granulated sugar, pour syrup mix over the dumplings.
Bake for 40 minutes or until crusts are brown and tender.
Serve warm with cream, or ice cream.
Peaches, rhubarb—may be substituted for apples.

Peach Kuchen
Sift together 2 cups flour
¼ teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoons salt
Cut into the flour ½ cup butter and 1 cup white granulated sugar. Press sugar, butter, flour mix into the bottom and sides of baking pan, saving back some to sprinkle on top of 12 peach halves arranged on the bed of sugar flour mix. Cook 15 minutes.
Mix together a cup of heavy cream, (or sour cream) with 2 beaten egg yolks and pour over the top of the peaches. Cook 30 minutes more at 400 degrees.

Mama’s Fondant
Combine in a saucepan:
2 cups sugar
1 ¼ cups water
2 tablespoons corn syrup
1 teaspoon vanilla
Place over low heat, stir constantly until sugar dissolves and comes to boil. Cover and cook 3 minutes.
Uncover and continue to cook without stirring until 238 degrees, wash down sides of pan occasionally with wet cloth.
Remove from heat; pour out onto cold, wet platter, or greased surface, cool to lukewarm 110 degrees.
Turn and fold with paddle or spatula until white and creamy. Add vanilla and knead until smooth.
Form into a ball. To prevent fondant from drying, cover with a damp cloth and store in tightly covered jar to ripen for several days.
Makes 1 pound.
You can add coconut, roll into balls, dip in chocolate, white chocolate or color the white chocolate with food coloring. Variations: place cherries in the center of a ball of fondant, or nuts, then dip in the chocolate.

Grandma Cynthia’s chunky bread and butter pickles
20 lbs of small cucumbers, cut in chunky pieces, soaked in a brine of 1 cup coarse salt and 3 quarts of water for 24 hours.
Prepare jars by placing in the bottom of each jar a washed, then towel dried, large grape leaf or two grape leaves if small.
Remove cucumbers from brine. Place cucumbers in a large pan or clean sink and pour over the top enough boiling water to cover. Drain quickly in a colander and pack closely while hot in the sterilized jars with the grape leaves. Cover at once with the following vinegar mixture, just at boiling point.
1 gallon of cider vinegar 5 to 6% acetic
11 cups of sugar
2 oz of whole mixed spices
1 oz stick of cinnamon
1 teaspoon whole cloves
Seal jars at once. Process for 15 minutes in boiling water bath.

Sinfully sticky buns
1 package active dry yeast
¾ cup warm water
¾ cup warm milk
¼ cup sugar
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
2 teaspoons salt
3 ¾ to 4 and ¼ cups all purpose flour
The sticky part
¼ cup butter or margarine, softened
¼ cup sugar
3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
¾ cup packed brown sugar
½ cup heavy cream
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
First and foremost have all of your ingredients at room temperature or slightly warm, mixing bowls should be nice and warm.
In a mixing bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Add the milk, sugar, oil, salt and 1 ¼ cup flour. Beat on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes or until smooth. Stir in enough remaining flour to form a soft dough.
Turn onto a floured surface; kneed until smooth and elastic, about 6 to 8 minutes. Place in greased bowl, turning once to grease top. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1 hour.
Punch dough down. Turn onto a lightly floured surface. Roll into an approximate 18-inch by 12-inch rectangle. Spread butter over the dough to within ½ inch of the edge. Combine ½ cup white sugar and cinnamon, sprinkle over buttered dough surface.
Roll up jelly-roll style, starting at the long side; pinch seam to seal. Cut into 12 slices.
Combine ¾ cup brown sugar and ½ cup cream; pour into a greased 13 inch by 9 inch by 2 inch baking pan. Sprinkle with pecans, place rolls over pecans and sugar/cream mix. Cover and let rise until doubled, about 1 hour.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 to 35 minutes or until well browned. Cool for 1 minute before inverting onto a serving platter. Yield 1 dozen.

Mom’s Vanilla Ice Cream
Never once did it remain just vanilla
Recipe is for a 4 quart ice cream freezer:
Beat together 4 or 5 eggs with 2 and ½ cups sugar and ¼ teaspoon salt. Slowly add 1 quart of whole milk into the egg and sugar mixture to get all of the egg from the sides of the bowl. Place mixture in the top of double boiler.
Cook custard over water until spoon is coated and the mixture begins to thicken (we use a wooden spoon, you can see the coating easier). Remove from heat and pour mixture into a larger cooking pot. Add 2 tablespoons real vanilla, 1 pint whipping cream, 1 quart of ½ and ½, plus one pint of whole milk.
At this point, you can add other flavors such as rum, mint or almond.
Allow custard to cool thoroughly before pouring into ice cream freezer.
Hint: chill your ice cream canister, paddle and lid before churning
You can change the milk to butter fat ratio to suit by switching to 2% milk. We think this combination is good, it’s rich without leaving a greasy film.
Before adding custard to freezer canister, add flavor combinations. Here are a few of our favorites so far.
2 large symphony bars with almonds, crushed
1 good sized jar of maraschino cherries, chopped
¼ cup rum flavoring, dark rum or Amaretto
¾ cups Ovaltine or chocolate drink mix. Reduce sugar by a ½ cup if you do this one.
¼ cup instant coffee (decafe if preferred) Kahlua, Irish cream, you name it, go for it.
½ cup walnuts, chopped
1 package mint flavored chocolate chips
1to 2 teaspoons mint flavoring (crème de menthe if preferred)
Mom always tried to make just vanilla; it never worked out that way. Bon appetite. Experiment: Pistachio, peach, strawberry, blackberry…

My favorite anytime cookies:

Carrot cookies
Cook 1 cup carrots-mashed and cooled
Cream together ¾ cup margarine, ¾ cup sugar, 1 teaspoon vanilla and add cooled, mashed carrots. I substituted chunky applesauce for some of the margarine. The cookies turned out moist, no problem.
Fold in 2 cups flour, 2 teaspoons baking powder, ¼ teaspoon salt, 1 tablespoon grated orange rind and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes. Frost while warm. A half of a maraschino cherry on top is looks pretty and tastes great.

Sugar drop with oil cookies
Combine: 1 cup sugar, ¾ cup oil, 2 eggs, 1 teaspoon vanilla.
Sift together: 2 ½ cups flour, 1 ½ teaspoon baking powder, ¾ teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon. You may add nuts, chocolate chips, raisins, dates, cranraisins. Form into balls, roll in sugar and bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes.