Food: Pondering the good, the bad and the ugly of the past year
Going into a new year is always a reflective time for me. I certainly do ponder what the upcoming days will bring, but there is no doubt my thoughts always drift back on the past 365 days, taking stock of the good, the bad and the ugly, if you will.
I’ll start with the 2012 ugly. I would have to say for me this came in the form of a box of chicks I received last spring. There is no doubt that baby chickens are some of the cutest animals around, but there were three that had me perplexed. It’s true that I had ordered an assortment of birds, but when I saw that I had received a trio of Transylvanian naked neck chicks in my mail order flock, I was dubious. I had never raised them before, nor had a desire to do so simply because of their weird looks.
These little chicks with their bare necks and little tufts of fuzz on their heads did have a captivating charm though, and when visitors saw them, they were enchanted. However, whatever cuteness they possessed upon arrival was short-lived. Once they lost their fuzz and evolved into their feathers, they became buzzard look-alikes. In fact, if a vulture landed in my yard I’m sure it would fall in love.
But I admit, all three (two are roosters) escaped the sharp edge of the ax this fall. While their looks are a little off, their personalities are undeniably endearing. During warm weather, when I am at home for a spell, I open up the outdoor coop and let the birds free range. There were many times I would look out onto my deck and see one of the naked necks staring in at me. It was if they were beseeching me to come out and play. Consequently, these three birds got named and the roosters are Redneck and Buzz (short for Buzzard). The hen is called Mrs. Finestein and is named after a teacher I had in high school that used to wear a wig. Her resemblance to this bird is remarkable.
As far as the bad goes, I find myself saying that more and more these days. I don’t know if it’s because I’m getting older, but when I can bear to watch the news, I find myself repeating over and over again, “That’s bad. That’s bad. That’s really, really bad.” Fiscal cliffs, shootings in schools, war; it makes me shiver just thinking about it.
And while all this bad can get a person down, the “good” in the good, the bad and the ugly has been for me undeniably wonderful this past year. And that wonderful came in the form of my dog Homey. This little animal has brought so much joy and happiness into my life since his arrival last March I can hardly express it in words.
I adopted him from the Forest County Humane society after he ended up there as a stray. I will never forget bringing him home that first day. He sat on my lap as we drove and when he turned his eyes to me I could see confusion and uncertainty, as if he were thinking, “Now what?”
And he didn’t adjust right away, either. At first, when I would tie him on a rope, he would sit and look down the driveway longingly, waiting…waiting…waiting. For who, I have no idea, but I am glad to report that is now a thing of the past. We are a bonded team; he is my dog and, yes, I am his.
For many years I have spent New Year’s Eve sitting on an overturned bucket on a frozen lake watching tip-ups. I have found it is a good place to contemplate the going, and coming, of a year. The quiet penetrates the soul, and if the stars are out, their shimmering brings hope and encouragement for the days ahead. And after my ice fishing foray, I have decided to treat myself with a very delicious cheesecake and a cup of hot cocoa. This cake is a rich one, and I don’t make it often, but it is certainly a masterpiece to look forward to. And there will be plenty to share with friends.
I guess there will always be parts of the year that will fit the good, the bad and the ugly theme. The bad will always be incomprehensible, that’s for sure, but when the ugly comes in the form of unusual looking chickens and the good is as wonderful as a little dog named Homey, there is hope. Happy New Year.
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 15 squares)
2 Tbs. sugar
3 Tbs. butter, melted
2 (8-oz.) pkgs. of cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 tsp. grated lemon peel
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1 can cherry pie filling
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Thoroughly mix the crumbs with the sugar and melted butter. Line a 9-inch pie plate or spring form pan with these crumbs. Bake for 10 minutes and let cool. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Beat the cream cheese and add the sugar gradually, beating until fluffy. Add the lemon peel and vanilla. Beat in one egg at a time until the mixture is satiny smooth. Pour over crumbs. Bake for one hour. Let cool to room temperature and then spread with the pie filling. Refrigerate at least four to six hours before serving.