Fix A Pot Of Soup, Hit The Books, Pick A Project

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Happy New Year! It’s time to settle in after the flurry of holiday activities, pause for dreaming daydreams, relive old memories and think new thoughts. Now we can catch up on those projects set aside for winter’s indoor hours, curl up with one of the books we have stacked up, or try a new recipe.

January is National Soup Month and what could be better than a bowl of hot soup on a chilly evening? What is your favorite kind of soup? Cream of mushroom is preferred by folks in Grand Forks, N.D.; Portland, Ore. people favor bean with bacon; and chicken noodle is the choice of diners in St. Louis. In New Orleans, gumbo is a perennial best seller. The word gumbo is from the African Congo’s quingombo meaning okra, which is used as a thickening agent for the concoction that is often more like a stew or chowder than a soup. The Choctow Indians thickened their gumbo with file, powdered sassafras leaf and some recipes use both (file may be found in specialty cooking shops). The traditional Louisiana gumbo calls for shrimp or other seafood and Cajun sausage, but any combination of meat, fowl or seafood may be added to the base of tomatoes, onions, fish or chicken stock and seasonings of bay leaf, salt, pepper and hot sauce. Gumbo demands to be served in a flat soup bowl over a mound of hot rice.

Our unseasonably warm weather must have the ravens thinking it is spring. This morning I watched a pair in the top of a pine in our front yard behaving like a couple of lovesick teenagers. They were perched close together, preening and rubbing each other with their bills, all the while uttering not their usual loud caw, but soft, murmuring sounds like the avian version of love songs.

Pine/Strawberry Thrift Store 

The Pine/Strawberry Thrift Store is having a bag sale on clothing through Jan. 7. Shoppers may fill a bag, which will be provided, with garments — except for heavy coats and jackets — for $2 a bag. All books will be sold at 50 percent of the marked prices. The store, located at 3916 N. Highway 87 in downtown Pine, and is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Payson Senior Center and Thrift Store

Music is an enjoyable part of life — come listen to the Senior Center’s Old Time Music Makers from 9 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Monday, Jan. 9 at the Senior Center, 514 W. Main St. Ann James and Friends will perform live music at 10:30 a.m., Tuesday, Jan. 10 in the Center Dining Room. Both events are free and open to the public. If you wish to stay for lunch, please make advance reservations by calling (928) 474-4876. The Center serves a hot lunch every weekday at noon for a suggested donation of $4 for those over 60, $5 for younger. There is no tax or tip (but a “Thank You” to the kitchen staff is always appreciated). Seniors who are homebound can have Meals on Wheels delivered. Monthly menus and activities calendars are available in the lobby.

There is interest in forming a Cribbage Card Club at the Center. If you like playing Cribbage, call Len at (928) 472-9302 for information.

The Center would like to offer classes in a variety of activities such as painting, journaling, needlepoint, scrapbooking, ceramics and similar activities. Volunteer teachers are needed. For information or to volunteer, call Gayle at (928) 474-4876.

Bargains continue at the Senior Thrift Store, 510 W. Main St. Regular clothing can be purchased at 10 garments for $1; boutique wear is 50 percent off the marked price. The arts and craft section has been expanded, so if you are in the mood to try a new hobby, but don’t want to spend a lot of money, the Senior Thrift is the place to go.

Finy Staalberg is the Center’s Volunteer of the Month for January. She works in the Thrift Store as does her husband, Louis. She holds the record for length of time at the store, having volunteered for more than 15 years. Congratulations, Finy!

Advice for 2012: Acquire an enthusiasm, you can’t be enthusiastic and unhappy at the same time.

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