I took a few days off last week to drive to North Carolina, with a stop along the way to meet two cousins for two nights of Airstream camping on a mountain in Virginia. I needed a change of scene — some close and personal “cousin time.”
The trip took six days and involved a lot of driving, which I enjoy. For me, solo drive time is really good thinking time. Almost a vacation within a vacation.
It was good to be in the mountains again. I drove the route along I-77 through West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina. There were lots of perks about that particular journey. A few trees are already starting to show color and there were some beautiful clouds along the way. I got to practice one of my favorite “pay forwards” by treating unsuspecting fellow travelers behind me to paid tolls when their time came to fork over $2.
It was a short, meandering trip through high mountains, deep valleys and plains. I came home with happy memories of time spent with family I don’t get to see very often.
My wake-up call (welcome to reality) came two hours after I got home when I found myself in the emergency room of a large local hospital with my son. He was having some ominous symptoms of the type that get one seen right away.
Thus, my first night home was spent in an emergency room chair watching various clinicians come and go, poking, prodding and generally tending to the patient. After I sat there for the same number of hours that it had taken me to drive home he was admitted. My straight chair was upgraded to a vinyl recliner at the bedside. To finally be horizontal after sitting in one thing or another for nearly 16 hours feels like heaven. (Don’t check it out, just trust me.)
Stuff happens. Things work out. My son’s on the mend and I’m resting up. Predictably, everybody’s getting an appetite back.
I ate some comfort food at a diner in Fancy Gap, Virginia that I haven’t had for a long time. This yummy stuff can go alongside many different things, from hamburgers to pulled pork to pinto bean soup. There are many variations. You can bet I’ll make some of this the first chilly weekend now that I’m back in Ohio.
12 1/2 pounds green tomatoes, chopped
8 large sweet onions, chopped
10 green bell peppers, chopped
3 teaspoons salt
6 green chile peppers, chopped, amount varies, according to taste
1 quart distilled white vinegar
1 3/4 cups granulated sugar
1/2 cup prepared horseradish
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
In a large bowl, combine tomatoes, onions, bell peppers and salt. Allow to stand overnight.
Drain the tomato/pepper mixture and add the chile peppers, vinegar, sugar and horseradish. Wrap the cinnamon, allspice and cloves in cheesecloth or a porous bag, and add to tomato/pepper mixture.
Boil for 15 minutes or until tender.
Pack tightly in sterilized jars and seal.
Makes about seven pints.
You can also add to the chow-chow: shredded cabbage, cauliflower and zucchini.
Linda Conway Eriksson can be reached at email@example.com.