Where were you on May 18th, 1980 at 8:32 a.m.? There aren’t many dates in peoples’ history that they know right where they were at a specific given moment. We remember the personal big things, the moment we got married, when our children are born, and when huge disasters happen. On May 18th, 1980 Mount Saint Helen’s changed the face of Washington State forever, and the moment is forever etched in our memories. Do you remember where you were? I was 15 years old, and for the first time in my life, my parents were taking my brother and going down to Castle Rock to see my Grandparents without me. I’d been invited to a friend’s birthday party and really didn’t want to miss it. We were all getting ready to go our separate ways – me to church to meet up with my friends, and my parents to their visit. We all stopped and looked at each other as a distant rumble that we couldn’t identify sounded in the far distance, then went about our business. Hours later, not having been able to reach my parents (remember this was before cell phones), or my Grandparents, I was in a panic. My friend cut her party a little short, and went home with me to wait . . . and wait . . . and wait. I have always regretted the choice not to go with my folks. The roads were covered in mud and ash, the rivers were rising and flowing with logs, homes, cars and other debris. My Grandparents, with the help of my parents, were moving their belongings to the upper levels of the house, just in case the river wasn’t contained by the barriers. Everyone was wearing masks to protect them from the ash, and it looked like a different world than the one we woke up to. My parents finally made it home the next day, worried about me, of course, but more worried about my family down in the volcano zone. The authorities were evacuating certain areas and my Grandad was refusing to leave. Looters were already being watched for, and Grandpa wasn’t willing to let his home be one vulnerable to them. Turns out he was right, as the river never overflowed its banks, and the house was safe. Shrouded in a thick blanket of ash, living in a grey world, breathing through masks, life resumed to a semblance of order. A few days after the blast, we went down to help in whatever way we could. My Uncle Alan was on the National Geological Survey team, and he was able to take me on a tour of the “red” zones where the general public wasn’t allowed to go. My perception of life did a drastic change that day, as I observed things that most 15 year old kids do not get to see. One particular area really impacted me. We pulled up to what was someones home. There was mud and ash burying the home up the roof line, just the peak and the chimney on top of the ground. The air was thick and silent, as if the world was holding its breath in mourning. There wasn’t a whisper of a breeze, not a bird anywhere to be seen or heard . . . no bugs. . . no forest creatures. Nothing. I don’t know that there are words to adequately describe the desolation, the sadness that had moved in when the family who lived here moved out. As I quietly moved about the area, finding myself tiptoeing silently, trying not to disturb the grieving going on by nature itself, I found a little girls doll, mostly buried in the muck. The sobs that I’d been holding back just couldn’t stay inside, and it all just came flowing out. I could imagine the child who loved this doll, being rushed into the car with her parents, taking their most important belongings with them, and getting out with their family before it was too late. This toy was left behind in the rush, and in my mind I could see her crying for her baby, wanting that bit of her life that was familiar to hold on to. I took some water we had in the car, and washed her off the best I could, and propped her up next to the roof line of the house. I was sure at some point the family would come back when they were allowed back in beyond the barriers, to see what they could salvage of their lives, and that she would find her toy and know that someone out there cared. I wonder sometimes if she ever found her baby. We all have those moments in our lives that mean so much to us, that change our perceptions. That day I knew that life can change in a flash. One big boom and everything is different. Don’t take it for granted, appreciate the beauty around you, the security and comfort of your lives, the friends and family you share each day with and never, ever forget that it’s all transient.
Armed Forces Day – Think about your life and the people in it. Among those people who surround you, how many of them have either been in the military in the present, or in the past? I’m betting that most of us have someone we love, perhaps lots of someones, who have proudly served our nation in one of the branches of the armed forces. These brave men and women protect our country, and can be called up on in a moment’s notice to perform a risky and perilous mission for our freedom. They train diligently, both physically and mentally, so they are prepared at all times for any mission they are called upon to perform. Each branch of the military used to have their own celebration, but on August 31, 1949, then Secretary of Defense Louis Johnson announced the creation of Armed Forces Day. President Harry Truman announced the holiday by presidential proclamation, and the first Armed Forces Day was celebration the following year on May 20, 1950. My family is represented by men who have been in all branches of the military, and I am so proud of each one of them! Today is the day to acknowledge our military – past and present – and all of their service, sacrifice, loyalty and patriotism. Thank you to all of our men and women in the Armed Forces. We salute you and humbly thank you for all you do.
No Dirty Dishes Day – Woohoo! Now THIS is a holiday we can all get into! No Dirty Dishes Day is our reprieve from the daily pile of dishes that we wash and dry. Day after day, we perform this chore, then take them back out again to prepare and eat our meals, then start over. It’s pretty repetitious and honestly we can all use a break. Today is that break! Now, the objective of this day isn’t to let the dishes pile up, but to avoid having them at all. Using disposable dishes and utensils is one way. Or go out to eat for all the meals that day. It’s a wonderful concept and I say we give it a great try. You see, anyone who has ever cooked with me knows that I go a little berserk and have a slight – sometimes not so slight – meltdown when there are dirty dishes piled up in the sink. I know that they are a byproduct of cooking, but I can’t stand it! I have to wash up as I go and have at least one of the sinks empty or I can’t think. I suppose if I have to have something to be obsessive about, there are worse things to pick than dishes. So the idea of going an entire day without dirtying dishes is awesome. Not realistic, but pretty awesome! Give it a shot! (I already blew it by the way – 2 plates, a knife and 2 cups have already been dirtied – sigh)
I Love Reese’s® Day! – Well, what a wonderful holiday! This is one that a LOT of people can get behind! As a matter of fact, I think this should be a multiple day event! A couple of years ago “nearly 40,000 fans” joined an online campaign on the Reese’s® Facebook page to say that they loved the delicious candy and wanted America’s best known cup of peanut butter and chocolate to have its own day. And the day was born. Today we celebrate the amazing flavor combination that has changed our taste buds forever.
Food Celebration of the Day
National Cheese Souffle Day – I admit it. I’ve never tried a souffle before. Hubby has – though I have to say he’s never made one for me. Hmmm. . . . we’ll have to talk about that. I’d like to try one of his creations. I think I haven’t tried one because I’m a big of a cooking utensil geek and I don’t have an actual souffle dish. I know you can use ramekins, and it’s actually the proper item to use for individual serving size souffles, but I’d lose my excuse then. It’s true – souffles can strike fear into the heart of any amateur chef, and even some professionals. So, what is a souffle exactly? It is a fluffy, airy light baked cake dish, that starts with an egg yolk sauce, beaten egg whites are incorporated to lighten up the dish, and add the famous fluffy top. Souffles can be savory with cheeses and other spices added to flavor the eggs, or they can be sweet, like chocolate souffles. The French invented souffles sometimes in the late 1700s. It’s recorded that a chef named Beauvilliers was making both sweet and savory souffles as early as 1782. They were publicized as a great, economical dish to serve company, with the first known souffle recipes were published in Louis Ude’s “The French Cook of 1813”. Many cooks have trouble when baking souffles and complain about them collapsing, which led to their reputation for being a difficult dish and could be why someone is considered to be a real chef when they are able to master it. One thing I did see was that if you have a souffle that collapses, if you put it back in the oven, it will puff back up. Here is a recipe for a cheese souffle that looks good to try . .
(A great recipes for a dinner party, it can be prepared through Step 2 and left in the refrigerator overnight. Cooked soufflés can also be reheated in the oven for a quick serving tip!)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter (plus 2 tablespoons softened butter for brushing)
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
6 large eggs, (carefully separated. An egg separator will help)
2 cups coarsely shredded Gruyere cheese (tightly packed)
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush seven ramekins with softened butter then lightly coat the ramekins with 2 tablespoons of the Parmigiano-Reggiano and set them on your baking sheet.
2. In a medium saucepan, melt the 4 tablespoons of butter. Whisk in the flour and cook over moderate heat for 1 minute. Whisk in the milk and cook over low heat until smooth and very thick (about 2 minutes). Stir in the salt and cayenne. Off the heat, whisk in the egg yolks. Let cool slightly. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in the Gruyere.
3. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer beat the egg whites with the cream of tartar at medium-high speed until frothy. Increase the speed to high and beat until firm peaks form. With a rubber spatula, fold the egg whites into the soufflé base. Make sure no streaks of white remain.
4. Spoon the soufflé mixture into the ramekins, filling them to 1/2 inch below the rim. Sprinkle the remaining Parmigiano-Reggiano on top and bake in the bottom third of the oven until the soufflés are puffed and golden brown (about 20 minutes). Serve immediately. Makes 7 servings.
If the recipe above doesn’t strike your fancy, try one of the ones listed below from www.food.com. Maybe there’s something there that will give you a little thrill.
- Cheese Souffle
- Twice-Baked Goat Cheese Souffles
- Cauliflower Cheese Souffle
- Cheddar Souffle
- Salsa Souffle
- Bacon & Cheese Souffles
- Cheesy Spinach Souffle
Today was a day of many memories for me – thoughts of Mount St. Helens and all the images that will forever be locked in my head remind me that life is such a gift and we need to take every day as a celebration of it! We don’t know what is around that next corner, so take each moment as God hands it to us, appreciate it, love those around us, and let the stresses just release. In a Mt. St. Helen’s moment those things mean nothing! Grab hold of what does have meaning – the blessings God has given you, and the people who you love. Let the other stuff go. God Bless You today, and every day. I’ll see you tomorrow.