Sunday, February 3, 2019

Aunt Mable’s Vegetable Beef Soup

This week we said goodbye to my Great-Aunt Mable. She was 103 years old when she passed!

I wrote about Aunt Mable in the past, when I shared her Honey Fruit Salad Dressing. She was a go-getter! She reminded me of the Energizer bunny. I guess her batteries finally wore out.

At the gathering before the funeral, I asked her daughter, Sue, if there was a recipe Aunt Mable made that was her favorite. She instantly replied, “Homemade vegetable beef soup. When I came home from college, she would have it waiting for me on the stove. Even though it was late, the soup was waiting, nice and hot. It tasted wonderful, but I don’t remember just the taste. I remember the comfort eating the soup gave me.”

I know what she means. I feel that way every time I make my Slow Cooker Vegetable Beef Soup. It was inspired by one my mom made and it gives me a lot of comfort, too

Here is Aunt Mable’s version. Give it a try and let me know what you think! I can’t wait to give it a go!

Goodbye Aunt Mable. You were a wonderful lady. It feels like the world has lost a little of its energy without you.

Aunt Mable’s Vegetable Beef Soup

This recipe is shown just how she made it. Feel free to adjust it to your taste. I’m sure she did through the years!

Beef shanks, approximately 2 pounds
1 to 2 carrots, shredded or chopped small
1 large onion, chopped small
3 to 4 stalks of celery, chopped small
1 can tomatoes, diced with juice
1 teaspoon sugar
3 to 4 potatoes, chopped
1/2 cup alphabet macaroni
Salt, pepper, Accent, to taste
3 to 4 drops Tabasco sauce
1 can beef broth

Brown beef shanks in a little oil in a large heavy pan. Cover fully with hot water. Cook on low til tender, 1 1/2 to 2 hours. Watch water to make sure it does not evaporate. Remove meat to mixing bowl and cover.

Add the carrots, onion, and celery to the broth and cook til partly done. Add tomatoes sugar, potatoes, and macaroni. Add some salt, pepper, and Accent. Cook til done. Add a can of beef broth, then add more water if needed.

Chop meat on a board, sprinkle with salt and pepper and add to the soup. You can also add any leftover peas, corn, etc. Important: Add 3 to 4 drops Tabasco sauce. (It warms the tummy and adds flavor.)

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Why Books Matter—Review of The Hate U Give

“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”

The Hate U Give first caught my attention while I was driving to cover a school board meeting after becoming the education reporter for the Topeka Capital-Journal. (Which is also why I haven’t posted on here a lot lately. Sorry!)  I was listening to “All Things Considered” on NPR. They were doing interviews about the book’s movie version, which was released that weekend.

Author Angie Thomas talked about growing up in a mostly black, poor neighborhood in Jackson, Mississippi.  She said, “And I went to a mostly white, upper-class, private school just 10 minutes away from my home. But in 10 minutes, it was like going into an entirely different world. So, I overcompensated by doing what's called code-switching. I would make myself more presentable I thought. I was careful of how I spoke. I was careful of how much emotion I showed. And it was a struggle because so often I was silent on things that mattered to me.” 

I had just written a story about the College Prep Academy started in the public-school system here in Topeka. Middle school students could join to spend half their day at a new, beautiful school learning at a higher, more intense level to start preparing for a college future. The first group came from schools in Topeka’s poorer and more racially-diverse neighborhoods.

In other words, Thomas was describing those students. Kids that tugged at my heart because I knew they were trying to better their lives while dealing will all kinds of crap around them. Young people I’m cheering for, praying for, and hoping for their success.

But also, young people I know little about. Seriously, what does a middle-aged white woman who grew up in a typical middle-class family with two parents and a sister know about life in “the hood?” I’ll tell you what she knows—the stories in the paper and on the evening news depicting violence, drugs, and poverty. Not the people, and certainly not kids blossoming into adulthood.

So, I knew I had to read this book.

I just finished it last night, and I was blown away. I knew nothing. Absolutely nothing. The book taught me just how much I don’t understand about being black in America.

Or Asian
Or Latino
Or any minority.

I thought I wasn’t a prejudice person. I still don’t think I am, but this book showed me areas where I was letting unconscious bias cloud the way I thought about those news stories, and sometimes the people I met in person.

But I can listen. And learn. And try to understand, starting with this book.

The Hate U Give should be mandatory reading for everyone but at the very least our young people and their parents. It should also be discussed openly and non-judgmentally.

By the way, for the record, I can’t stand green bean casserole, but I do think mac and cheese bubbling from the oven is a meal. It’s also a good side dish.

Confused? Read the book.

Why Books Matter is a new segment I’m starting on my blog. I’ll write about the books I’m reading, especially ones that strike a chord with my heart. I gave it this name because, to me, books can reach people and instigate change more than anything else in the world other than education. Best of all, you can go back to the good ones time and time again.