At six and half months into a journey that I would never wish upon my worst enemy I have settled into a deep sadness.
Gone (I hope) are the gut wrenching tear fests, the vomiting, the shaking and the fear.
A gentle, deep sadness has replaced the anxiety and bone crushing grief.
My tears now come in gentle streams. Memories come and go. A song, a thought, a colorful cardinal at my backyard feeder, all bring on a gentle remembrance of a life once lived. A life once shared. Dreams. Hope and promise. A life ended in its prime; cut short by circumstances beyond the control of mere mortals.
I have found that the answer to my grief is giving. Of myself. Of the one talent that I can share. I can cook.
My neighbor, just 36 years young has recently been diagnosed with Lymphoma. She has three young children and is in the fight of her life.
So I cook.
Once a week (sometimes twice) I make the trudge through the snow and slush to deliver something hot.
Soup. Bread. Cookies.
Casseroles that can be reheated after a day of chemotherapy. Sweets that can be dispensed to hungry littles.
Soup that soothes a nauseous stomach.
A light salad.
Anything that keeps my hands busy and my heart full.
Lest you think I am good. Or a saint; I have found that the answer to my pain is to give. In giving I receive. In giving and contributing to the hope of healing I see life prolonged - life healed.
Life enjoyed and life celebrated. Life at its best - around a table of good food, being shared by people who are in love. In love with life. In love with healing. In love with hope.
I hope you enjoy this recipe. It is designed to put some "south in your mouth" and a smile in your belly. But most of all it is meant to be shared.
Southern Fried Chicken: serves 4 plus neighbors
One whole chicken, quartered into legs, thigh, wing and breast portion. Rinsed and patted dry.
2 cups milk
2 tablespoons white vinegar
1 tablespoon Louisiana Hot Sauce (or Tabasco)
1/2 cup flour
2 teaspoons salt
2 eggs, beaten
2 cups plain bread crumbs
Canola Oil for frying (don't worry about calories or cholesterol - this recipe is all about comfort)
In a deep bowl combine the milk, hot sauce and vinegar, let sit for 10 minutes. Add the chicken. Make sure the milk mixture completely covers the chicken pieces. Refrigerate two hours or overnight (up to 24 hours)
Place the flour in a large ziploc bag, add salt and shake to combine.
Place eggs in a shallow pie plate and beat slightly with a fork.
Place bread crumbs in a second pie plate and set alongside the eggs.
Remove chicken pieces one at a time and shake in flour. Dip in egg, then coat with bread crumbs. Arrange coated chicken pieces on a rimmed cookie sheet. Repeat until all chicken pieces are coated.
Pour and pat any remaining bread crumbs over coated chicken pieces. Refrigerate 1 hour or up to 24 hours.
Heat oil to 265 degrees* in a shallow skillet (if you have an electric frying pan - wonderful!)
Gently add the coated chicken pieces to the hot oil and fry - about 8 minutes per side - turning until golden brown on all sides. Remove to a brown paper bag covered cookie sheet to drain the oil and keep crisp**
Serve with sweetened corn bread, mashed potatoes, steamed green beans and love. Remember to share with someone.
A Cook's Notes: *Cooking the chicken at 265 degrees will insure that it is crisp on the outside and perfectly done on the inside. Any higher and the chicken will crisp too early leaving it raw on the inside.
** Paper towels tend to get soggy with fried foods and will make the underside of you finished product soft and mushy. Use recycled brown paper bags from your grocery store. They absorb the grease and pull it away from the food, leaving it crispy and brown - the way you intended it to be.