Archive for the ‘cooking’ Category

Mighty Poor Mouse that Aint’ Got But One Hole To Run To

Wednesday, September 9th, 2009

I know, I know: here it is three days later and I’m just now coming on to the blog to say something about the national holiday we just celebrated known as Labor Day. Hey, what can I say? I was working.

As someone who for all practical purposes is self-employed, let me pause here and thank God for keeping work pouring in to my office. Thank you God for every invitation to speak, write, lecture, conduct workshops, consult that lands on my desk (even those I have to turn down). Have ministers, writers, and public speakers like myself been affected by the downturn in the economy? You betcha. But when you’ve been doing what you’ve been doing for as long as I have (seniority has it benefits), and learned long time ago the wisdom of knowing how to do lots of different things (so as to generate multiple streams of income), you manage to eke by in times like these.

To quote my great aunt Dora, “It’s a mighty poor mouse that ain’t got but one hole to run to.”

In fact, here’s to the many jobs I’ve had in my lifetime. Cleaning houses (yep, worked alongside my stepmother when I was a teen); Dairy Queen (in high school); factory assembly line (summer college job that paid me a whopping $400 a week); college work study in the library and the astronomy lab; housesitting and hospital admissions clerk (in graduate school); my first job after college as an accountant/auditor; stockbroker (my second job); seminary job (my longest gig); minister and public speaker (my sacred gigs); writer (my dream gig);  academic and writing consultant (my recent gig); mother and wife (my most infuriating, and yet most satisfying gigs).

black rosie the riveterAs you can see, not all the jobs I’ve held down were glamorous. Actually, most of them weren’t. But each did its “job” in shaping me and in instilling in me a sense of competence, self-confidence, and  self-reliance.  I’ve worked since I was a teenager, something completely foreign to the teenager-who-lives-in-my-house who thinks  a job is something you go out and get so you can buy extra pairs of earrings and those shoes your Mom won’t buy for you. She knows nothing as a teen about work, like I do, as something you have to do to feed and clothe yourself because your parents simply can’t afford to because of all the other mouths in the house to feed.

I know some of you have wondered on occasion why a feminist/womanist writer, minister, scholar like myself keep bringing up quilting, cooking, and other domestic talents once thought beneath thinking, professional women. It’s because I’m worried. I’m worried because no body seems to know how to DO anything anymore. I meet women in crazy abusive relationships who can’t break away because their  work as receptionists or schoolteachers don’t bring in enough income to build the stash they need to finance their escape. And they don’t know how to do anything else to supplement their income. I know women who brag that they can’t cook or sew, and then wonder why they can’t  save any money. I repeat: I’m worried. I worry about the boys in my neighborhood who dream of earning a scholarship to a Division I football college next year even though they can barely read and have no trade to fall back on.

I broke off a relationship with a guy who was in law school many years ago precisely because he couldn’t Do anything.  Except read law books. He couldn’t change a tire, change the oil in the car, or change a light bulb.  He was as scared of roaches as I was. Okay, so there were other things about him I didn’t like. But my point remains: I don’t bond well with folks who can’t be counted to be able to Do anything in times of disaster.

Labor Day week offers us all a chance to meditate on the changing nature of work in America. Back when factories dominated, Labor day posters were filled with beefy forearms. That’s because work on assembly lines relied on brawn. Labor Day boasted of men and women who didn’t mind flexing their muscles to earn a living for their families. Remember Rosie the rosie the riveterRiveter, that famous depiction of the archetypal American woman who took up working in war factories during World War II to help their country, to feed their families, and to fill assembly line positions once held by men who were off at war? Rosie the Riveter became a feminist icon in the US, and a herald of women’s economic power. You don’t need muscle to work on most jobs in America these days, but you do increasingly need a high IQ and white collar know-how to make a comfortable living in this country.

Make no mistake about it, work is changing in America.  The labor market has suffered its most wrenching changes in a generation over the last year, shedding millions of jobs and permanently changing the employment landscape in this country. But the downturn in the economy is only partially to blame for what many see as a seismic shift taking place in employment and the economy in this era.   Work is changing, and who works and who doesn’t is changing. In the not so distant future, experts say, good jobs will only be available to individuals with complex skills in fast-growing sectors like information technology or medical technology. The most drastic changes will be the irreversible disappearance of jobs that tended in the past to provide rewarding employment for average human beings, with average intelligence, and average schooling.  Like everybody you and I know. Assembly line work, for example. Equally worse will be the irreversible loss of jobs on the lower rungs of skill and wages, jobs that used to offer marginal groups in society — the minimally educated and immigrants–a chance to support their families through wage employment.

I drive up to the airport and look for my favorite baggage attendant, the one who usually sprints out to my car when he sees me and helps me with my bag because he knows who the weekly travelers are that tip well for prioritizing getting them checked in and moving quickly to their gate. But he’s not there this time. Economic and technological forces have stripped him of his job. I drag my luggage inside the terminal and check myself in with the swipe of my credit card there at the kiosk and wonder how he’s making it these days.

One call to my cable provider and the problem with my HD channels was fixed by the technician by a flick of the button there in her carrel. No cable guy had to be dispatched to my house.

I worry about the teenager who can’t snag a job this school year bagging groceries down at the local supermarket because of people like me who prefer fast and easy self scanning machines to waiting in languid and long lines for a clerk to scan my groceries and a teen to bag them.

Did I mention that the only reason I’m pretty good at googling and finding the answers to software and hardware problems I encounter is because I don’t like haggling with computer customer service representatives in India who pretend to know and speak English and obviously don’t when you have a dilemma requiring more than “please reboot your computer” as the answer?

I tell that teenager-who-lives-in-my-house that one of the benefits of learning to clean her room, along with the rest of the house, is that she may find such a skill handy one day when she needs a side hustle like a cleaning business to supplement the income she hopes to make from that high powered office job she thinks she’s going to land as a result of all the degrees she’s banking on her parents paying for. “You better come in here and learn how to prepare these dishes I’m making and pay attention to these stitches I’m sewing because the world is changing” I yell across the house. “Get an education, but you better be in a position to generate multiple streams of income. You pretty now, but you won’t be pretty forever. Shaking your booty for a living don’t pay but so much. When one gig falls through (whether that be lover or employer), you better know how to create your own wealth so you can feed your self girl.”

To quote my Aunt Dora, “It’s a might poor mouse that ain’t got but one hole to run to.”

I Was Hungry, and You Gave Me A Voucher

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Let’s get one thing straight, Oprah. This is not what Jesus had in mind when he said in Matthew 25 that one of the qualifications of those who will inherit the Kingdom, “I was hungry and you fed me.”

Perhaps you heard about Oprah teaming up with KFC to launch a campaign promoting a free meal of grilled chicken at KFC outlets? You haven’t? Where have you been? A Google search for “Oprah KFC coupon” turns up over 48,000 hits.

kfc oprahHere’s how it went. Oprah and KFC teamed up to promote KFC’s new “Kentucky Grilled Chicken” product with a free coupon offering “two pieces of grilled chicken, two individual sides and a biscuit.” You and I both know that offering free food is an attention getter all by itself. But it seems that Oprah and KFC were clueless about just how deep a recession America is in. Neither had any idea that millions of people in this country are jobless and hungry. Nor did either know that there are millions of more people in this country who, though neither jobless or hungry, just can’t pass up a free meal.

You can probably take a guess at what happened next.

Visits to Oprah’s website to get the KFC vouchers nearly crashed the site. Mayhem erupted at KFC outlets across the country. Lines for free chicken were outside the door. Crowds became rowdy when stores ran out of chicken or refused to honor the vouchers. Police had to be called in in some places to restore order.

I don’t have to tell you that downloadable vouchers are no longer available on Oprah’s website. KFC had to end the voucher campaign, or they were going to go out of business.  Hens went on strike and stopped laying eggs.  (Just kidding.)

And now animal rights groups are up in arms against Winfrey. Winfrey was named PETA’s Person of the Year just last year because the talk show host  used the show to highlight the cruelty-free vegan diet that she tried!  Now they’re asking how could she use her influence last year to expose the cruel conditions in which factory farm-raised animals live, and this year team up with KFC who gets its chickens from Tyson’s Food, one of the worst offenders in the industry. (Or, so says animal rights groups.)

I know what capitalist behemoth KFC was thinking.  It’s all about making a dollar.

But what in the world was Oprah Winfrey thinking? She wasn’t. On second thought, perhaps she was.  Perhaps she agreed to team up with KFC in light of her recent admission about her own weight struggles, thinking she would be helping to promote good health among her millions of fans –switching from the fried version of the chicken to the grilled. More likely, Oprah teamed up with KFC because, hey, she’s a business woman. And that’s what business women do. Strike deals and make money.

“White people gets free houses and cars from Oprah,” says one black comedian, “but all black folks get from Oprah is free chicken from KFC.” That’s an unfair observation. Funny, but unfair. Winfrey didn’t have any say over who downloaded vouchers from her website.

I can imagine the scene there in New York where, they say, when told that there was no more chicken customers started yelling and waving vouchers in the air and refusing to leave the premises until they got their free chicken.

And, of course, Jesus wasn’t around to take those five remaining chicken pieces there at the store, bless them, and divide them among the thousands waiting outside to be fed.

File this one under: It sounded like a good idea at the time. But I (Oprah) was wrong.

What do you think of Oprah Winfrey’s support of KFC?  ‘Fess up. One you were one of the millions who got a free meal from one of the vouchers from Oprah’s website?

Merry Christmas to All

Tuesday, December 23rd, 2008

christmas door

We’ll call a truce for the holidays and come back to our discussion of who’s a Christian and who’s not, and why some folks brand of Christianity is a thorn in the side to others.

Hey, it’s Christmas. Let’s see if we can act, if not Christian, then surely civilized.

Christmas in my house means attending candlelight service in the morning and back home for lots of cooking and Christmas music.

Thanks for the Christmas cd recommendations the other week. There are about 15 Christmas cds already in my collection with Donald Lawrence and the Tri-City Singers “Hello Christmas” as my favorite, followed by BeBe and CeCe’s “First Christmas.” Went online last week and decided to add Gladys Knight’s “A Christmas Celebration” to my list. It’s great!

Not many presents under the tree this year, and that’s just fine with me. All the love is getting expressed from the heart and the hearth this year.

If you stop by the blog this holiday, open the door and look for me in the kitchen barking out orders. And trying my hand at one of my mother’s dishes, fried sweet potato pies. Yep, pie crust from scratch.  I’m still at it. BTW, can anyone tell me what’s the secret to a great pie crust?

Anything brewing in your pots this Christmas? Okay, all you divas who love to boast that you don’t cook, can’t cook, and have never cooked a day in your life. I’m looking right at you, honey. You definitely eating something. So do a kind deed for the cook in your life this holiday. Set the table. Clean the kitchen. Thank God there’s food on the table.

Be whole. Be loved. Be happy. Be grateful.

Behold Christ this Christmas!

Grateful To Be Around The Table

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Off to run to the store this morning to pick up a few items I still need in preparing my Thanksgiving dinner. It’ll be an all night cooking marathon here at my house beginning today.  We usually drive down to Atlanta to visit family. But we’re staying put this year and setting our own table.

I must say that I’ve come a long way since the first Thanksgiving dinner I hosted almost twenty years ago. It was my first sit down dinner party. I had spent days preparing. When my guests walked into my dining room I mistook their wide-eyed expression for awe at my beautiful blue and white table scape.  I know better now. The table was a stunning blue and white decor. Flowers. Candles. Name cards. And… paper plates, paper napkins, and paper flatware.  I don’t think I was dumb enough to put out paper cups too. But I can’t be sure. I cringe when I remember that first dinner party. Paperware at a formal dinner party seemed like a good idea at the time.

I repeat: I’ve come a long way since that first Thanksgiving dinner I hosted almost twenty years ago.

No more paperware.

Most of all, no more anxiety over things that don’t really matter.

This Thanksgiving I’m just grateful for family, friends, food, good health, and faith in God to see us all through these difficult economic times. With so many people out of jobs this holiday season and leaner times forecasted for the future we should focus on the things that matter most.

God is great and God is good
And we thank Him for our food
By His hand must all be fed
Give us Lord our daily bread

The Martha in me urges me to try my hand this Thanksgiving at making an apple pie complete with a homemade pie crust (thanks to Paula Deen). I’ve put in an order for two cakes to be dropped off here at the house tomorrow, just in case the pie flops. LOL

One thing is for sure: even if the food is horrible my table will be beautiful. I’ve become a sucker for a beautiful table scape.

Hmmm….while I’m out buying more some chicken stock and bay leaves maybe I’ll drop by Pottery Barn for little something extra to go on my table.