Tag: Food

Topic: What food best describes your family?

Cindy Thinks

Ally Thinks

Nuts.  A Big Pile of Mixed Nuts.

Anyone who has had the absolute pleasure of meeting my family (and I’m talking my immediate as well as my ever growing extended family) would have to agree that they are all nuts.

But what family isn’t?

We’re not a big family.  My grandparents had three girls and each of them only had two kids each.  So we were manageable in size.  But that just exemplified the nuttiness of each individual.

Way before I was born, my dad decided to take my mom away from the rest of her nutty family in the hopes (I believe) of gaining some sanity.  They moved more than 2,000 miles from the closest nut, but it didn’t work.

The nuttiness seeped through.

But as a kid, I loved it.  I loved the way we would all get together for family gatherings and everyone talked at the same time, yet were able to hear the juiciest details from the other conversations.

I loved the way the older generation would tell the same family stories over and over and over again as if they were telling them for the first time.  And when the stories got too many to remember…they assigned numbers to them and would shout out “number 23!” or 48 or 51…and everyone would laugh hysterically.

I loved the way we would spend hours on end trying to decide which restaurant to go to…and always ended up at the exact same place each time we visited.

And, I loved the way each person had their own unique nutty quality about them that we would discuss openly and exploit whenever possible.

Now I feel like I’ve created my own little nutty family that’s grown into a hodge podge of family members and close friends, with its own little mixed up nutty combinations.

There’s our nuclear family, my extended (well documented) nutty family, Brian’s family -which added a whole new breed of nuts to the mix, Matthew’s wonderfully nutso family, and our combined friends who quite literally could keep mental health professionals busy for a lifetime.

But when you put them all together in one big pile…you get a richly diverse mix that feeds me every day of the week…and nourishes my soul.  And I don’t know what I’d do without that.

Because it’s the week of Thanksgiving, I’m going to say my most favorite Thanksgiving food EVER.

Mashed sweet potatoes with melted mini marshmallows.

(It’s not just my favorite because it’s DELICIOUS, but also because it’s pretty much the only time it’s totally acceptable to put marshmallows on your veggies.)

How does this awesome concoction describe my family?

First of all: it’s a little odd.  I mean MARSHMALLOWS?  On POTATOES?  It’s weird.  It makes some people tilt their head to the side and raise their eyebrows and shake their heads…

(I just can’t be friends with these people.)

My family is the same way.  We’re wonderfully – awesomely – weird.  We freak people out.  We make people drop their jaws.  We get ourselves a whole lot of raised eyebrows.

(And not just when we explain the whole #divorcedkidneys extravaganza.)

And I love us for that, just like I love the sweet potatoes and marshmallows.

Secondly, the sweet potatoes and marshmallows make me happy.  I mean, how could they NOT??  They taste yummy, they’re pretty, and I can convince myself that I’m being healthy because sweet potatoes are really, really good for you.


My family makes me happy.  We laugh and smile and have a great time.

(They’re also really pretty.)

And we’re good for each other.

Really, really good for each other.

Finally, sweet potatoes and marshmallows are special.  You don’t get to have them all the time.

(Well, I guess you could eat them more often, but you don’t get a free pass from judgment like you do on Thanksgiving.)

(Which is kind of sad… but also kind of good… you know, health wise.)


Even though I do get to be with my (immediate) family whenever I want, they’re still incredibly special.

We’re totally unique.

We’re not like any other family I know.

My family is full of really good people covered in sweet, gooey goodness.

(I mean that in the best possible way.)

And that?  Is extraordinarily special.

No.  Expiration dates are a giant conspiracy from manufacturers to get us to throw out everything in our pantry and buy new soup or olives or ketchup in order to keep them in business.

(OK, maybe a little paranoid…but maybe not.)

I mean…what’s so bad about soup that’s been in a can in your pantry for lets say…6 years?  It’s in a can for God’s sake!  The cans’ purpose is to keep that food contained until you are ready to eat it. No air can get in, and they’re so loaded up with preservatives that no bacteria, bugs or other bad things could live in there anyway.  So what’s the big deal!?!

Note:  I think preservatives are one of the greatest things ever created.  They’re designed to preserve things…forever…and at my age, I eat as many things loaded with preservatives as I possibly can.

I will go so far as to say that preservatives have made expiration dates…obsolete.

Except for milk.  Which I don’t need an expiration date to tell me has gone bad.

Or cottage cheese.  Or anything dairy or meat/fish/poulty, or fruits and vegetables or leftovers left in the refrigerator for more than 5 days for that matter.  They all need to be tossed on a regular basis.  They don’t come with expiration dates…but I’m not stupid…I KNOW THEY EXPIRE!

But ketchup?  Come on!  That stuff has got to have a shelf life of 6.2 million years!!!

So what about medicines?  I confess, I don’t check the expiration date on pill bottles (I know, you’re shocked!).   I know I probably should, because that stuff might really do some harm if it’s past its prime – or worse, not provide the intended relief it was designed to provide.

But it takes so much time to go to the other room…find a pair of reading glasses…turn on enough light to read in the bathroom…find the expiration date on the pill bottle…and then make a decision if I’ve had it “too long” (since I don’t automatically believe the expiration date in the first place).

From years of experience however, I can tell you that Tums don’t loose their fast acting antacid relief even after they’ve been sitting in a drawer for about 5 years (although they no longer resemble the original shape or color of a Tum) .  Advil still works even if it hasn’t seen the light of day since the First Bush was President.  And, Vicodin NEVER stops working.

But antibiotics are a different story.  I was married to a doctor after all so I KNOW that if you find a rogue antibiotic laying in the bottom of a pill bottle you probably shouldn’t take it…even if you’re dying.  In fact, you should be wondering if the illness you were suffering from way back when was actually cured, since you obviously didn’t finish taking all of your antibiotics at that time!!!

In all fairness though, expiration dates can tell us how long the manufacturer thinks their product will be most effective…but it’s up to each of us to determine if using their product whenever, is still good enough.  Obviously, if they really thought it would be dangerous for us to use their product after a certain amount of time, they would build in a self-destruct mechanism to destroy it on the expiration date.  And since that isn’t the case…I don’t think expiration dates matter at all.

I should subtitle this post: Stories of my Father.


I can remember sitting at the kitchen counter watching my mom clean out the refrigerator.  She was busy tossing expired milk, old yogurt, and moldy bread in the trashcan.  (That makes it sound like we only had rotting food… we only SOMETIMES had rotting food.)  My dad was busy taking the food OUT of the trashcan, saying things like, “just cut off the moldy parts and it’s perfectly fine”, and “do you know what yogurt is?  Bacteria laden OLD MILK!”


I was sick earlier this year and had a cough that kept me up at night, so I asked my dad for some cough syrup.  He gave me a bottle of brown liquid that was apparently “Black Cherry Explosion” flavored.

Me: “Dad, this expired in 1994.”

Dad: “Medicine doesn’t go bad.  It’s just a ploy to get you to buy more.”

Me: “Dad, do you realize that you have not only had this for over a decade, but you actually packed this in a box and moved it to a new house… TWICE.”

Dad: “Well, it’s probably just extra potent now!”

Me: “Yeah, but will it kill me?”

Dad: “Maybe.”

Me: “Awesome.”

(I tried not to take it, but at some point I got so desperate that I just closed my eyes and took a swig.  It worked, but for my own peace of mind, I bought a new bottle.)


Dad: “We have two kinds of salad dressing… Oh wait, they’re the same kind.”

Mike: “Brian, they’re different colors.  How OLD are these?”

Dad: “Hm… Shut up and eat your salad, Mike.”


I went down to Denver to my grandmother’s house.  We went to the basement to clean out her office.  Between the shelves of Christmas decorations and newspapers from the 1960s were cabinets with food.  There was a small glass jar with artichoke hearts.  The liquid inside had almost solidified and there was yellow stuff floating inside it.  The expiration date had faded off.  At least I know where my dad gets it from.


I live with a boy who throws away milk 2 days before the expiration date.  Now I’m the one taking the yogurt out of the trash.

So do expiration dates matter?  According to my dad, not so much. But have you ever accidentally covered your salad with really old dressing that your father refuses to throw away?  Trust me, it’s not a pleasant experience.