What does cinnamon candy & cheese slices have in common?

One thing about memories is you can’t control when they will pop into your mind. This is especially true for memories of our departed loved ones. A recent example illustrates this point. I love all kinds of cinnamon candy and the hotter the better.  I recently discovered that my husband loves them too, as he was eating two and three cinnamon breath mints at a time. WOW! That’s even too hot for me!

We were reminiscing about the different cinnamon candy and treats that were available when we were in high school—remember the cinnamon toothpicks! As we chatted about the hottest cinnamon candy and comparing the intensities of Jolly Ranchers to cinnamon bears, red hots and hot tamales, I remembered a funny event involving Debbie and I.

About 18 or so years ago my husband and I, with our two daughters drove back to Wyoming to visit my sister. We had pulled an all-nighter, peddle-to-the ground road trip driving straight through from California. We arrived at Debbie’s house at about 4 am and immediately crashed into bed.cinnamon jolly ranchers

When I woke up a few hours later, I went looking for my purse. I found it by the front door,where upon my exhausted arrival I had dropped it. Next to my purse was Debbie’s purse similar in style. Upon closer inspection both purses contained a bag of cinnamon Jolly Ranchers.  It was hilarious! Living so far apart and not being able to “spend time”together we were both amazed by our similar tastes in styles and snacks!

As I was learning about my husband’s love for cinnamon candy, this heart-warming memory surfaced. How sisters separated by years and miles, were seemingly genetically engineered to love cinnamon Jolly Ranchers. Even now, the memory brings a smile to my face.

The sliced cheese is an even older story that my mom loves to tell. When Debbie was about 2 years old, she loved those individually wrapped American cheese slices. Maybe love is not a strong enough word—she craved those little slices. One day, she walked over to the neighbors, politely knocked on their door and asked for a slice of cheese.  My mother had visited the neighbor in the past who had kindly given my sister a slice of cheese. Well, in a 2 year old’s mind, why not go back for more!

Both of these sweet memories of my sister came into my heart and mind this week; and I feel blessed. The main reason these are joyful memories is I am at a good place in my grief, so that missing her stirs happy moments. Thank you, Lord!

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My Sister’s Green Chili

I am planning on cooking my sister’s famous Green Chili.  Let’s clarify, famous in regards to our family and friends; not famous as in tv show or cookbook.  At her grave site service which was less formal and with mostly family, everyone raved about Debbie’s green chili.  We were pleased when her husband distributed copies of the recipe.

I have fond memories of chatting with her on the phone, while she was busy cooking her green chili for her office Christmas party.  She would be cooking until 2 or 3 in the morning chopping and cooking.  Many things stand out in my mind about this memory. First, that she would be up all night cooking. I am not a late night person, like she was. I am the one who gets up at 4 in the morning to get a head start. Second, her secret ingredient is green chili powder. Even though I live in California, I am having a hard time finding it.

Cooking her green chili is going to be a challenge. The recipe is just list of ingredients no directions and lots of scribbles. My first challenge is to take what I have and somehow put it together. Maybe now is the time to confess. I have never had her green chili before. I have heard how great it was from our family and her friends.  But, have never actually tasted it. We would see each other maybe every year or two and our time together did not include cooking her chili. Instead we would have summer picnics and barbeques.

Another challenge is her tweaking. Debbie, had taken the recipe originally given to her by a neighbor and had been modifying parts of the recipe for the best results. Not that the original wasn’t outstanding, for I am sure it was. But, my sister and I are a family of tweakers. Not like meth users. Instead we take a recipe and say, “Hmm, let’s make changes. Spice it up a bit; add more onions and most definitely more garlic!”

My sister is not only a tweaker, but the recipe is technically in her head. Yes, many of us are guilty of having an outline of a recipe, but the true details and nuances stuck in the gray matter.  So here I am. I have most of the ingredients and the pork is cooking away. Tomorrow, I am going over to my daughter’s house. We both love to cook and I am anxious to see how Debbie’s famous green chili turns out. We have her scribbles with no clear directions of what to do after we shred the pork, but we will do our best. Check back and I will share with you the results.Soup image