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The princess of everything

What grown men will do for a 3-year-old

“You’re not going to put this on your blog, are you?” asks King Daddy with a slight tremor in his voice. Please notice carefully. King Daddy is dressed for “the parade” with Mardi Gras beads placed strategically by the princess. The ones over his ears are “earrings.”

However, can you also detect the blissful smile on King Daddy’s face? Yes, the magic of a 3-year-old granddaughter who has selected you – at least for the moment – to be her partner in the parade.

The North Carolina Mayhews/Tennessee Harbins/Tennessee Mayhews congregated at Oak Haven Resort over Labor Day Weekend for a few days of sloth, over-eating, napping and attending to the princess. Sydney was more than happy to accommodate her fanatically doting grandparents, especially Granbunny and Nana.

First, of course, were the royal fashion shows. We were treated to a number of designer options in bathing suits, dresses, and a stunning Rapunzel costume that Sydney will wear for Halloween, complete with tiny purple slippers that light up. Somehow the paparazzi found their way to Cabin 106 because the princess was almost blinded by the flashes going off on the cameras. But she gamely carried on “showing her teeth”, which is how her mother prompts her to flash a genuine smile.

Of course, the princess must be fed and, I must report, Granbunny was shameless in this department. Not a single thing in Bunny’s grocery bag involved actual real food. There was the red,white and blue cake mix (with matching sprinkles) for the mini cupcakes. There was two additional vats of sprinkles for the ice cream pops Bunny planned to make. And we’ll get to the funnel cake in a minute.

Here is Bunny opening the first can of sprinkles for Sydney’s vanilla ice cream (please note designer bathing suit on the princess). Just a few sprinkles. Bunny shows Sydney how to delicately decorate her ice cream.

Until the top of the sprinkle can pops off and a shower of artificially flavored and colored candy shards covers the bowl. No matter. The princess is completely delighted. And that is the object of the exercise, isn’t it? The princess consumes the entire, delightfully crunchy and sugary mess and then Bunny announces the next conquest. The funnel cake.

There is some history to the funnel cake. For years,  Bunny has taken my son, Noah, for a special outing on his birthday that always involved funnel cake. Mothers, fathers and other relatives need not apply for this excursion because there was only one on the guest list. This year, Bunny and Noah invited Sydney.

“Why can’t Nana go?” Sydney asked with some concern. Good girl! There was a brief glimmer of hope that Nana would be invited to the Secret Society of Fried Dough. And, yet, an invitation from the ring leader was not forthcoming. When the time came to get in the car, Sydney hesitated, her lip trembling. I waited for it. “I won’t go without Nana.” But that wasn’t it at all. She was just afraid to leave Mommy and Daddy. Drats. Off they went to funnel cake land.

However, God smiled upon Nana and provided a powerful thunderstorm that required Noah to run into the funnel cake place, obtain the fried dough with powdered sugar, and return to the cabin to consume it instead of eating it away from Nana’s pitiful gaze.

And so I was able to obtain this exclusive photo of Sydney, mouth full of fried dough and hands sticky with powdered sugar, in a funnel cake coma.  I momentarily thought about offering Sydney one of the ultra-processed refrigerated cookie dough sugar cookies with highly refined glitter frosting and sprinkles on them I had baked in her absence, but even I knew that would be cruel.

The princess survived the Sugarland Express. After one last nibble of a white chocolate and macadamia nut cookie this morning, she got in her car seat, blew us kisses and was gone. And we were all a little sad the parade was over. But we got to march. At least, we got to march.

 

 

 

 

 

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Cafeteria food

No, it is not what you think at all.

Broken-hearted, once again, I have taken Noah back to the University of Tennessee for his sophomore year. And he invites Bunny and me to eat in the cafeteria for lunch. “Umm, O.K.,” says Bunny tentatively. She and I both remember college cafeteria food from the 1970s. When you were required to have a meal ticket because the university’s revenue stream would dry flat up if they couldn’t force kids to eat in the cafeteria.

Well, just let me say this. There are no starving college students at the University of Tennessee if they are on the unlimited meal plan. Oh, my God. We walk in and Bunny and I are stunned. The cafeteria is actually a food court at a Las Vegas casino. Somehow, it has found its way to Knoxville and is catering to a bunch of ignorant college kids who don’t know anything about starving and do not seem to be the least bit grateful about it. This is the homemade taco station where the chef prepares your tacos before your very eyes. But wait. There’s so much more. And I will have to go to the thumbnail photos to get this all in.

Bunny and I wander the cavernous cafeteria, not sure where to start. There’s the Asian station with stir fry, again prepared before your very eyes. There is the roast loin of pork, haricot vert and mashed potatoes. There is the sandwich station, where once you prepare your sandwich as you like it, you can press it on a panini press!

But wait. There’s more! Like pizza? Of course, you do. You’re an ignorant college student who doesn’t understand that it is highly unusual to watch pizza dough being thrown right in front of you and your hand-crafted pizza being delivered just minutes later. Are you kidding me? I’ve been to Vegas and this is better.

Bunny and I spend an hour just wandering around and trying to figure out what to eat. Noah is impatient. This is no big deal. Oh, yes it is. We finally start to choose and it is embarrassing. I start with pizza and salad from the designer salad bar. Bunny starts with a beef and broccoli stir fry and Asian noodles. I move on to tacos after sneaking a healthy portion of mac and cheese off Noah’s plate. Bunny goes all out with a hot dog smothered in chili, pizza and French fries. I think, for a moment, she has actually transported herself back to college. Look at us. They say youth is wasted on the young. Truer words.

But wait. There’s more. You like soft serve ice cream with colored sprinkles? Oh, yes. Bunny needs a few sprinkles these days. She called it a party in a bowl. But the real deal, the over-the-top winner is the sweet pizza with chocolate sauce and M&Ms. I am dead serious.

I am now officially jealous. Noah says the menu changes every day. At every station.  But the capper had nothing to do with the food.

When we walk in on Noah’s first full day back at school there is Janice. Janice would be called the maître d‘ if there were justice in the world, but she is the cashier at this food palace. And she loves my Noah. She gives him a big, proper hug and then asks me for my lasagna recipe. Noah has told her of my lasagna. I love the both of them. Noah is well fed and he is looked after by the amazing Janice. Would it be considered untoward to move into the dorm with my son just so I can eat at the Presidential Court cafeteria? Perhaps I will just move a sleeping bag into the cafeteria next week and take up residence. I thought Noah was on the unlimited food plan at our house this summer. But I was so wrong. So very, very wrong.

 

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Protein Overload

So I’m trying not to eat very much this week because come Thursday, it’s going to be wicked. I’m going to Dillard, Georgia, for a BBQ contest. Here’s how it goes in Dillard. We arrive Thursday afternoon and immediately go to the Spring Ridge Dairy store for homemade ice cream. Then the dinner for cooks and judges is Thursday night. It usually involves greasy, fried things that are always very, very tasty. Saturday morning, breakfast is at the dillard houseCupboard Cafe. I usually go light – just a sausage biscuit, because lunch is at the Dillard House.

I’ve always made fun of people who go to Golden Corral and pile mounds of food on their plates (mostly things that don’t go together like spaghetti and kung pao chicken). But I am exactly like those gluttons at the Dillard House. The photo shows a meal for TWO. The fried chicken is out of this world. The cabbage casserole sublime (Dillard is the cabbage capital of the world!). There’s also corn on the cob, mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole, baked chicken, country fried steak, fried catfish, hush puppies and, like you really need this, cobbler with ice cream for dessert. And the food is unlimited. If you want more fried chicken, they will bring you more and they will keep on bringing it until you explode.

One of the great sporting events of the weekend is watching Myron Mixon, one of the competition cooks, eat fried chicken. He doesn’t actually eat it. He kind of sticks the whole piece of chicken in his mouth, works the meat off the bones and then spits the carcass out. He can go through at least eight or nine pieces of chicken in about 20 minutes.

I won’t even go into the contest itself with the four meat categories, the grits category, the cabbage (naturally) category and the dessert category. Let’s just say there are more than a few judges walking around in a stupor after this thing is over.

So, I’m trying to eat light this week, but it’s also giveaway week at the Community Resource Center. We’re giving away computers, which has involved quite a bit of hauling on my part. I’m feeling like I’ve expended a lot of energy and, therefore, can suspend my “eating light” rule. Mark suggesed Corky’s for lunch. Barbecue. Like I need to eat barbecue this week.

Apparently, I did. IMG_0071I needed to eat this baked potato stuffed with pulled pork, shredded cheese and topped with real bacon crumbles. Oh, and the tubs of butter and sour cream on the side. And the yeast rolls. Oh, the yeast rolls.

So I’m having a couple glasses of wine now because it is a proven fact that something in the wine counteracts any act of gluttony you might have previously performed. That’s true, isn’t it? Yes, I think it is. I think I read that in Scientific American.

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