I have been busy these last two weeks. Jim and I are trying to get things in order for the annual Parker County Shrine Yard Sale. When spring rolls around, it’s time for the sale, and lots of people donate items to us for resale. We do this to support the Shrine Hospital for Children down in Galveston.

Maybe you aren’t aware of this face — all children at the burn hospital are treated free of charge. That’s why I don’t mind the hard work. Where kids are concerned, Jim and all the Shriners and their ladies will work nonstop to help support these hospitals.

A number of Parker County children have been treated at the hospital in past years. Some of the kids treated always stop by and see us every year and we always look forward to seeing them.

It’s a lot of work putting these yard sales together, and you never know what you’re going to find when you open boxes of goods that have been donated.

An article I saw in a newspaper last week reminded me of this. It seems a woman helping her daughter put out items for a garage sale found a particularly ugly eagle statuette. She put it out on a table along with several other items she had found in her daughter’s closet. She put a price of $30 on it and was surprised when a woman bought it.

At the end of the day, she told her daughter of some of the items she had sold and included the eagle in her description. To her surprise her daughter began to cry and get very distraught. Her mother wanted to know what all the fuss was about.

“You sold the urn containing George’s ashes.” George was her recently deceased husband. Uh oh.

To try and make amends, the mother contacted the local Pennsylvania town’s newspaper and told them of her boo boo. A story was run and nothing happened for a week, but then a lady rang the daughter’s doorbell. She was cradling the eagle decanter. She told the daughter she collected bird statues of all kinds and when she saw the eagle she wanted to add it to her collection. She had not noticed that it could be opened. She noticed it was pretty heavy but hadn’t wondered why. She assured the widow she hadn’t opened it, so her husband’s ashes were intact.

The young widow was eager to get the eagle back. She explained to the woman and her mother she had put George on her closet shelf so she could see him every morning when she got ready for work. She refunded the $30 to the woman and everyone walked away happy.

The story of the cremation urn reminded me of my cousin, Norris’, girl, Eleanor. When Norris’ mother, Eleanor’s grandmother, passed away, she was cremated and placed in an urn. Norris was faced with the dilemma on where to bury the ashes. Should he take them back to Illinois where his dad was buried or bury them in Arizona where his mother had lived for 25 years? Eleanor was very close to her grandmother, so she told her dad to let her have Mimi’s ashes and she would make the decision.

What Eleanor did was put the ashes in the trunk of her car and proceed to leave them there for two years. She took Mimi along on several vacations and she had always loved to travel. Mimi got to go to the Pacific Northwest, Wyoming, California, New Mexico and Texas. At our last family reunion in Hamilton, Texas, Mimi was set on a table and was able to survey everything that happened.

I noticed the urn and asked Eleanor what it was doing at the reunion. When she told me what it contained, I was momentarily taken aback. But then considering Norris and his branch of the family I wasn’t surprised.

A lot of the relatives never asked what it was and why it was sitting on a table where Norris and his branch of the family sat.

I told Jim if Norris asked us to sit with them and eat to please politely decline.

Eleanor seemed to be eager to talk about her grandmother, so I sat and listened. She remarked about the time she had to take her car in for some repairs plus a new set of tires. As she was leaving the car, she told the attendant to be careful of her grandmother. The guy looked puzzled and asked, “What do you mean be careful of your grandmother. Where is she?”

Eleanor replied, “Well, I keep her in the trunk, so be careful when you put the spare in the trunk. I don’t want her disturbed.”

The guy looked shocked as he said, “You mean your grandmother is in the trunk of the car. Lady, you can be arrested for that.”

“Oh don’t worry. She’s dead.”

“Hey lady. That’s a criminal act. You can be arrested for that. How long as she been dead?”

“Oh, about two years. But don’t worry. It’s just her ashes in that urn in the trunk. Just be careful and don’t break it.”

She said the guy nervously assured her he wouldn’t touch that urn. In fact, would it be all right if he put the spare in the back seat and leave it at that?

I don’t see why he should have been upset. She wasn’t going to bother him as long as he did the repairs right.

The only thing left of my Easter ham is the ham bone, which I am going to use in this recipe.

Red beans and rice

1 pound red or pinto beans (I prefer pinto)

1 ham hock or ham bone

3 quarts water

1 large onion, chopped

3 garlic pods, minced

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground red pepper

1 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

3 bay leaves

1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

6 cups hot cooked rice

Sort and wash beans. Soak beans overnight if desired. Pour off water next day and put beans, ham and water in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer two hours, stirring occasionally.

Then, add onion, garlic and seasonings. Simmer for another hour until beans are soft. Remove bay leaves. Take any ham meat left on bone and cut in chunks and put back into pot. Taste to see if any seasoning should be added.

Serve over hot rice.

Here’s another way to use left over ham hock.

Hoppin’ John

2 cups dried black-eyed peas

1/2 pound salt pork, quartered or a ham hock

2 cups chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 cup chopped green pepper

1 bay leaf

3 cups water

1 cup uncooked long grain rice

1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper

Sort and wash peas. Place in a large Dutch oven. Add water two inches above peas and bring to a boil. Boil two minutes, cover, remove from heat and let stand for one hour.

Drain peas and return to Dutch oven along with pork and/or ham and other ingredients. Cover with 3 cups water and simmer covered for 1 1/2 to 2 hours or until peas are tender. Add more water if necessary and make sure peas and rice are tender. Discard bay leaves before serving. Taste for seasoning.

Spanish rice

3 tablespoons vegetable oil

2 cups uncooked long grain rice

2 large green peppers, chopped

2 large stalks celery, chopped

2 medium onions, finely chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 to 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1/2 teaspoon pepper

5 cups water

1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce

1 small can tomatoes, cut in chunks

Heat oil over medium high heat in a heavy Dutch oven; add rice, peppers, celery, onion and seasonings. Stir all together. Add water and tomato sauce. Bring to a boil then reduce heat and simmer for 20 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender. Check for seasoning. If needed, add more cumin and chili powder.

This is a good side dish for pork or chicken.

Drop by Friday or Saturday at 1709 East Bankhead Highway and say, “Hi.” If you have any good recipes you want to share, bring them. I’ll be doing my cashier duties and I promise if you buy a suspiciously heavy urn, I’ll check it out for you so you don’t get home with Uncle Max or Cousin Thelma.

Janis may be reached at jks4417@aol.com. Columns submitted to The Weatherford Democrat by guest writers reflect the opinions of the writer and in no way reflect the beliefs or opinions of The Weatherford Democrat.

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