A Palm Sunday Snow Day

Palm Sunday was always one of my favorite days; I loved receiving the beautifully flexible palm frond; I had absolutely no trouble believing it was indeed as much a biblical treasure as that day’s communion.  What a lovely hand-held item to commemorate such a glorious day in the church!  We’d walk home with Mom, enjoying the sunny warmth and slightly overheated by the time we entered the house.  Anxious to place the new palm frond behind our own crucifix, we’d quickly change clothes so we could dig into the salami, cheese and bread Daddy had spread out in their original deli wraps on the breakfast nook table for him and the Mechanic to enjoy over a highball…

Decades later, here I am in the Midwest at FrogHaven and it is snowing today.  I am no longer a church regular so I am home bonding with my crock pot.  Weird…and getting weirder.  It’s supposed to be spring, yet today we are told to expect SIX inches of snow???  Snow on Palm Sunday!  The church is probably disbursing hand- woven “shovels” instead of the tenderly-woven “crosses” that are so much a part of this mainstream…

What is it about snow that brings out the squirrel in me?

Snow in Twain Harte years ago…we would be staying another night because of the roads, so I began about the kitchen scraping and foraging for everything and anything edible…color was the key; didn’t Mom always say the more color on your plate  the more nutritious?

So, I began with what was left: butter, some broccoli, some celery and carrots, a bit of leftover anything that I could combine…I concocted what was one of the best cream of broccoli soups I ever produced – under snowfall duress, mind you – yet I never wrote down the exact ingredients or their quantities; to this day, I have failed to fully duplicate that soup.

I came close once, and my mother-in-law asked me to give her my recipe.  I did but, without the fear of being snowed in and dying an untimely death, the recipe didn’t exactly compute like the version she had tasted – that time, under in-law distress – so, even she admitted,

It just wasn’t as good as yours….

Hah! If she only knew the chef humor involved.  And why I fully understand that if any chef is offering a special anywhere I roam that day, I’d better take advantage of such a treat!  I know firsthand that I may never again have the chance of experiencing such creativity or gourmand pleasure.

Snow is still rather foreign to this native Westerner.  I love watching it fall and the cardinals and wrens are beautiful – no artist can fully capture for me the heavy hand of Snow, an equal opportunity Duster, distributing its lovely white phenomenon beauty on limbs, patio tables, and decking…  Thank you, God, that You’ve once again made light of global warming worries and put such climate change discussion on hold for another day!  I only wish my sisters were here to share the crock pot serendipity on my kitchen island.

Waste not, want not.

Repeatedly, Mom never threw out anything that was still “good”.  But she only knew soups, not casseroles, so our family kitchen beheld many course meals or soup; nothing much in between, unless Daddy was going to the Italian Club that evening with the guys.  Then, Brat and I could talk her into buying us a treat from the local market: a frozen Swanson’s Dinner!  Mom was almost apologetic as she checked out, remarking she never thought she’d purchase her children a frozen dinner of any kind…school lunches were about as close as we ever came to fast food in those days under Mom’s watchful eye and budget.  Otherwise, forget anything “new” from Kraft or Swanson’s or even Chef Boyardee…they’d have to rely for their taste-testing by someone else’s children, not hers.

Yes, history if not weather is repeating itself today for this cook; I’ve foraged and gathered up lots of colorful broths and veggies; by this time in my cooking career, I’m far better prepared and even have a bit of ham to finely dice and scatter throughout the butternut squash and cream potato base.  Limas and some corn add that bit of Mardi Gras festivity to what would otherwise be just another found meal; I’ve gathered up all the extra nutrition that comes from knowing how to combine and savor every little bit of seasoning…some ground pepper and perhaps a little bit of butter will dollop the final plate.

For sure, I’ll take out some of my squirreled-away crusty bread from the freezer…this snowy Palm Sunday calls for some carbs and comfort and a glass of wine while I work on taxes.  This chef is no fool…but surely grateful that somewhere in the woodpile a frog met up with a squirrel…and a soup pot would never be the same.