Subscriber Login


Bena Mae's Kitchen: Reflections


 I recall looking back over my 85 years to the many things, lost to progress, which bring happy tears and sad remembrances.
When you get to the age I am now you do a lot of reflecting because you have time.
Lost to progress is the trust we used to have in one another. A man’s word was his bond. A hand shake was as valid as a signed document. Nowadays we are bombarded with fraudulent claims, lies and manipulation of people in power and we accept it as the norm. It was a slow brainwashing that gradually worked its way into our society and now we are stuck with it.
 I am proud to say that I am a member of Tom Brokaw’s “The Greatest Generation.” We didn’t feel that great at the time. We did what it was called upon us to do. We didn’t ask ourselves what was in it for us. It just came naturally. We were doing what our fathers and forefathers had done to strengthen the country we had inherited and save it from annihilation. We were patriotic, a word that has lost its meaning from over-exploitation and misuse. To call oneself a “patriot” nowadays, congers up a picture of overzealous radicals.
I had respect for my elders, my parents, my teachers, my church leaders and anyone in authority because it was what I was taught. My education was minimal because education was a product of the times and teachers could only teach what was given them to teach. It was enough to learn the basics in order to graduate and go to work in a minimum paying job and get married and raise a family. Few people made the leap from high school to college because there was no money available. So I got most of my education, self-taught, after I graduated high school. And I’m happy to say that many of my peers with whom I graduated, went on to become quite successful. And many of them didn’t have hand-outs from their parents, they worked their way through school.
Home life was very simple. You obeyed your parents, attended school every day, went to church on Sunday, came home at night at a set time and never did anything to embarrass your family. I remember the time when Don broke this rule by skipping church and taking the nickel Daddy had given him for the offering plate and spent it on an ice cream cone. When he got home after church, he got a royal sermon from Daddy. Other than that, he didn’t cross the line except for never taking off his baseball cap during meals or when he went to bed.
One aside to this story, When Don was missing from church, we didn’t worry about his being abducted or kidnapped. We didn’t have people searching for him or putting up posters with his picture on them. Kids were safe on the streets back then.
After I’ve had breakfast each morning, I have my second cup of coffee in front of the television. I dread turning it on. “Who will have gotten shot today?” I wonder. This is not an overstatement. Lately, it has been the subject of Breaking News all too often. It’s something you never get used to. I hear a lot of rhetoric about our second amendment rights.
And then it occurs to me. What about a private citizen’s right to go to church, the theater, school, or merely shopping in a mall without the fear of a crazed gunmen creating havoc. Shouldn’t that be one of our rights? Will I ever again go to the grocery store or sit in a church congregation without looking over my shoulder?
Please indulge the ramblings of an 85 year-old woman who has a lot of history to reflect upon. Sometimes the chaos around the world makes one’s head explode and they need to vent. Thanks for listening.

This recipe for mashed potato casserole is a great way to make your mashed potatoes even better.

Mashed Potato Casserole

6 medium potatoes (peeled and quartered)
¼ cup butter
¾ cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
2 tablespoons fresh chives (chopped)
½ cup French fried onions
2 tablespoons cooked crumbled bacon (or more)

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Lightly butter a 1 ½ quart casserole dish. Place potatoes into a 3-quart saucepan and add enough cold water to cover the potatoes. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and cook for 20 minutes or until fork-tender. Drain the potatoes.
Mash the potatoes with a potato masher or mixer. Add the butter, sour cream, 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, and chives. Mash or stir until mixed well.
Spoon the mashed potato mixture into the prepared casserole dish. Place into the oven and bake at 325 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until hot. During the last few minutes of cooking top with 1 cup of cheddar cheese, bacon pieces, and French fried onions. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese has melted.
(Makes 6 Servings)