Friday, September 18, 2009

Lesson's In Life From Nonna # 1...Good Luck !!

As I look back on Nonna's life, I recall that my mother was full of wisdom, determination, love and laughter. I will be sharing some of these times in a series called Lesson's In Life From Nonna. So I ask you to read along with me and enjoy this special woman.


Nonna had a great sense of humor, which she loved to share with those around her on a daily basis. She believed that laughter had a healing power all on it's own, that it could change the dynamics of most situations almost instantly. My mother was a fantastic cook and everyone who enjoyed her treats and meals always raved about them. One of her specialties was a southern treat know as Creamy Pralines. She had many people begging her to make Pralines and to give them the recipe, which she gladly did.

As Nonna aged and her health began failing, Kathy, my wife, told me that she was going to have Nonna teach her how to make Pralines. Kathy called Nonna and told her that she was willing to learn, only to have Nonna put her off because she did not feel up to it. This went on for a few months and anyone who knows Kathy, knows that she is persistent. Kathy told me that she was determined to have mom teach her how to make those Pralines and would not take no for an answer! I laughed and thought, this will be good, because Kathy will not win this battle. I was proved wrong again, as Kathy said we were going to Memphis so she could learn how to make Pralines! I said " I thought mom was ill and wasn't up to this" to which Kathy replied," No, I'm going to buy everything we need before we get to the house, and she is going to teach me!"

I was stunned when mom came into the kitchen and said " OK, I'll show you, but you have to do all of the work" Nonna sat on a stool and told Kathy each step of the process, patiently watching and showing a little chuckle occasionally. She was enjoying this more than she thought she would, as Kathy was knee deep in concentration, holding on to Nonna's every word and taking notes. The Pralines, after much work and teaching, turned out beautiful and tasted just like Nonna's.

As Kathy was cleaning up the mess, Nonna gave a little snicker and said, " Baby, I've given that recipe to a lot of people over the years, and almost everyone of them would call me and complain, because they were totally frustrated that the Praline cooking turned into a disaster!" " You know, I shared the recipe with them, (snicker)but I never told them the secret!" Kathy almost fell over laughing and had to beg Nonna to tell her. Kathy said " Mama, when something happens to you, I will be the one who makes your Pralines, SO I HAVE TO KNOW!!!!" Nonna agreed and said " the secret is in the pot", and told Kathy the details of her success making Pralines.

Nonna's Creamy Praline Recipe.

2 Cups Sugar, 1/2 cup Karo Syrup(white), 2 tsp. Vanilla Ex., 1/2 can Sweetened condensed milk, 2 cups pecan halves, 1/2 cup water, 1/2 stick butter.

Mix together sugar,karo syrup,water and milk. Bring mixture to a boil. Cook on medium heat until temp. reaches 245 deg. remove from heat. Add vanilla and butter, beating by hand with wooden spoon lightly until mixture becomes thick and bubbles form. Fold in pecans and stir several times. It is ready when mixture becomes very heavy. Drop a spoonful on wax paper and let cool before storing. Never refrigerate. GOOD LUCK!!!

Nonna ending her recipe with Good Luck was her sense of humor coming through. She knew of the struggles that awaited those who tried to duplicate her Pralines. Nonna knew that when we take ourselves to serious, and have a negative effect on those around us, we are depleter's. When all seems wrong, find a way to laugh at ourselves and ask, will this situation have any lasting impact on my life? The answer is almost always no. As far as to the secret Nonna shared, you'll have to ask Kathy!

Love John

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