THE SHELF

REFLECTIONS (updated every Wednesday)

by Steve Liddick

For many years I had been overweight. Women had not looked lustfully at me since—well—they’ve never really looked at me lustfully, but that’s a whole other story.

Let me just say that my particular poundage piled on for the most part as a protuberant pot belly. Potbellies is a trait that runs in my family. Even the men have them.

I suppose if you look hard enough you can find an advantage in any physical disability or deformity. I’m sure the hard of hearing enjoy being able to turn off their hearing aids to shut out a screaming child. Extra tall people can reach high shelves. Of course, there’s a down side to both conditions. The hard of hearing can’t fully enjoy music. The tall have to duck at doorways.

The chronically fat have their own set of problems. One of them is that we don’t like to be called ‘fat,’ preferring instead to be referred to as heavy-set—or portly. Better still, just refer to them by name.

Formation of a pot belly may be Mother Nature’s way of keeping a person farther from the dinner table to keep it from growing even larger.

I do not prefer taking my meals in the dining room. I’m a casual diner. I think it may be rebelling against my mother’s edict about not taking food into the living room, my personal favorite dining spot. My lounge chair is a place where a pot belly comes in handy as a kind of shelf for my plate. I could sit there with a book in one hand and a fork in the other, with my plate secure and in no danger of falling off its shelf.

But one day I concluded that a bay window was not only unattractive, it was also unhealthy. You hear stories about heart problems and diabetes linked to overweight. Just taking a walk was exhausting. My wife and I sometimes took walks. She likes to walk and talk, but I told her I could do one or the other—but not both.

I decided to get rid of the tummy. I applied my iron will to the project and over most of the next year I slimmed down by sixty pounds. I have nieces and nephews who don’t weigh as much as I lost.

To be honest, women still don’t look at me lustfully. But I no longer open a door by turning the knob and bumping it with my stomach.

The only disadvantage I can think of is that when I have my lunch at my lounge chair, the plate keeps sliding down onto my lap.

 

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CHICKEN CORN SOUP

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

Every year, when the corn was at the eating stage, church women in my Perry County Pennsylvania home area would make chicken corn soup as a fundraiser. I don’t know if they still do. If so, a bowl of it probably wouldn’t cost a quarter anymore.

Whatever the price, it’s worth it because it was heaven in a paper bowl with a plastic spoon.

My personal recipe, which is a long-standing Perry County tradition, is very simple:

First you steal a chicken

Defeatherize and clean it, boil it down, debone it, toss the skin and bones. Cut the meat into smaller pieces. Save the water you boiled the chicken in.

Then you walk out to a farmer’s field and pick some corn. My dad always said to “Leave the money on the fence.” I would say, “What if there’s no fence,” and he’d say, “Now you have the idea, son.”

Okay, moving on:

You cut a lot of corn from the cob and add it to the chicken and broth.

Now here’s the good part:

In a bowl, you mix an egg and a pinch of water or melted butter in some flour and mix it around until you have a dry dough with tiny eggy-floury chunklets and you drop those—a few at a time—into the boiling soup. Those are called rivels (RIH-vuhls) and they add to the magic.

After it has boiled awhile, salt and pepper it to taste.

There you have it.

But I have to admit, the homemade version is nowhere near as good as those church ladies made.

Maybe it’s because everything tastes better when someone else does the cooking.

 

SAY GOODBYE TO BAD HABITS

REFLECTIONS

by Steve Liddick

I quit smoking in 1964.

I quit drinking alcohol in 1988.

I quit chasing wild women in 1978. I never did catch any of the wild ones anyway.

It has been years since I was last kicked out of a restaurant for dancing on a table or got arrested for drunk driving.

I am no fun at all anymore.

There are certainly benefits to putting aside bad habits and wicked ways. For example: If I had followed the family tradition of continuing to smoke cigarettes, there is no doubt in my mind that I would be sitting here dead.

The roadways are much safer without one more drunk out there who doesn’t really think he is impaired and believes with all his heart that he is a better driver drunk than most people are sober.

As for the wild women; well, . . .

That is not to say that I no longer have any bad habits. There is no junk food item in our pantry that will not be attacked almost as soon as the groceries are packed away. And it is well known that I would get into a stranger’s car for ice cream.

Plus, I am a sandwich guy. Dagwood is my hero. I need clamps to keep my two-story sandwiches from falling apart. I am such a sandwich devotee, I told my wife that when I die I want to be buried between two large slices of bread.

I could do a better job of trimming down my To-Do list, but it grows even faster than the lawn mowing I have been neglecting. I’m already on page two of the list and I use a really small font.

There’s no point in my making New Year’s resolutions. Statistically those don’t survive more than a few weeks after January 1st. Mine have never made it past the twelfth stroke of midnight.

Not to make excuses for myself, but I am not alone in putting things off until tomorrow which, by the way, never comes because tomorrow presents us with still another tomorrow and so on and so forth—and so fifth.

I could organize a procrastinators club, I suppose. But anyone who showed up at all would be at least a day late.

I do pride myself on finishing anything I ever start. Where that falls apart is the starting part.

As Popeye says, “I yam what I yam.”

I wonder if there is such a thing as spinach cookies.

 

Books by Steve Liddick: https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_2?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=steve+liddick

Steve LiddickAuthor of “All That Time,” “Old Heroes,” “Prime Time Crime,” “Sky Warriors,” “But First This Message: A Quirky Journey in Broadcasting,” “A Family Restaurant is No Place for Children,” “Campsite Gourmet: Fine Dining on the Trail and on the Road,” and “Eat Cheap: A Cookbook and Guide To Stretching Your Food Budget Dollars.”