Welcome back to my kitchen!

I like people–all types of people–from kids to adults with special needs, I enjoy almost all one-on-one conversations. Like The Hubs, I can just about have a conversation with anyone.

Let me bring you back about ten years ago to my first “Mother’s Day.” I don’t know why I had such high expectations for such a day. I set myself up for disappointment.

It, of course, was a Sunday night. I had to travel on business from Minneapolis, Minnesota to Selma, Alabama. There’s no easy flight to Selma from Minneapolis. At midnight, I landed in Birmingham. I proceeded to the rental car counter to pick up my reserved car. I was abruptly informed that all cars were “out and not returned by FEMA.” I panicked. It was after midnight. I needed to get to Selma, over 60 miles away, for an early morning day of meetings. I approached an airport police officer. She mumbled and slightly laughed. She hailed a cab for me. I remember her asking, “Are you sure you want to go to Selma?”

“This?” I asked the police officer as a clunky old car pulled up. “You want to go tonight or not,” she answered back. I closed the door to the rusted out antique looking 1970s Oldsmobile—this car looked and sounded like it was on its last breath. “Hi—I’m Bernice,” the driver introduced. “Where ya go at this hour?”
“I need to go to Selma,” I asserted. “YOU go to Selma?” she asked—looking at me up and down, shoes to blonde hair. “Yes!” I answered. “I can go there. But we need gas. Or we won’t make it,” she advised rallying through a dozen credit cards piled high in her front seat. “Ok. No problem,” I agreed. Bernice pulled into a downtown ATM. “What’s this for?” I asked. “I told ya. You need to give me gas money. I only have coins,” she repeated trying to find quarters in her car seat cushion. She explained to me that gas stations don’t take debit cards at the pump after evening hours anymore.

After getting money and trying to find a working gas pump/station, we proceeded very slowly down the highway. I mean a turtle could have beaten us to Selma. Bernice was elderly—I’m guessing in her early eighties.

To my delightful surprise, we had a wonderful engaging conversation. A very natural conversation. I learned a lot from Bernice in our three-hour plus drive.
Her biggest and most impactful words to me, “Kid, it’s just a day. A Hallmark holiday. Don’t get yourself caught up in Mother’s Day. You mean a lot to that kid of yours. Who cares if she didn’t call you—she might not be able to tell you, call you mom or even call you. Who cares, get over it.”

Bernice was right and wise in her words. Unlike how I grew up, in my traditional views of the definition of a family. Remember, The Folks have been married for over fifty-four years. I got married later in life to The Hubs. Em was a part of the package deal. It was an instant family from day one. I like to call ourselves—the Party of Three.

Families and “moms” come in all shapes, sizes and titles. On this Mother’s Day I respect and believe, like Bernice’s valued wisdom, a child can have a big ol’ heart capable of loving multiple adults. Don’t get caught up in step-parenting battles, titles of mom v. stepmom v. foster mom v. Mr. Mom, or upset if that important child in your life neglects to acknowledge you on Mother’s Day. It’s just a day. Be impactful in their lives by showing love, grace, compassion, values and beliefs, and being a role modeling inspiration every day. Be thankful for being able to touch their lives and help them succeed to be the person Bernice is/was.

I’m assuming, that Bernice was passed away since our drive together. I think of Bernice—every time I see a bag of pork rinds. You see, at our third or fourth gas station stop, Bernice pulled up, stopped the car and asked me to buy her a treat. She craved a bag of pork rinds. I didn’t even know what they were! Bernice was thrilled with her simple life—a bag of pork rinds as a treat—and a family that she loved dearly. And, one that she was incredibly proud of.

To Bernice—I think of you often and smile. The Folks and The Hubs have heard your name so often, they believe they have met you, too! This week, I waltzed into the kitchen. I made fried chicken with pork rinds. The chicken was juicy, tender with a bit of crunch—some pizazz, just like my Bernice. It was finger licking good.

Bernice—thank you, and Happy Mother’s Day!!

Jayne (aka The No Sugar Baker)

The No Sugar Baker’s Chicken Like KFC

5-6 Skinless Chicken Thighs, Breasts or Legs
3 Cs. Crushed Pork Rinds
1 T. Black Pepper
1 T. Onion Powder
1 T. Garlic Powder
1 T. Paprika
1 T. Thyme
½ C. Mayonnaise
2 Eggs Beaten
½ C. Mustard
¼ C. Heavy Whipping Cream

Easy Directions:
Spray a 9 x 12 baking pan. In a small bowl, combine the cream, mayonnaise, eggs and mustard until smooth. In a larger bowl, combine the pork rinds crumbs, pepper, powders, paprika and thyme. Dip the chicken, a piece at a time, into the egg mixture and immediately coat with the pork rinds mixture. Place chicken on baking pan. Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes.

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