Cruising down the highway, singing a song to help me forget about grocery prices

By Shirley Prihoda

The Bulletin


Today was the day. Upon rising, I added another cup of coffee to my morning ritual of two cups in hopes the extra shots of caffeine would provide the burst of energy needed.


That’s when I remembered we had given up caffeinated coffee months ago in hopes it would mean fewer doctor visits. We’re there all the time anyway, so I doubt this sacrifice has had any bearing. But one never knows.


Alas, procrastination had reached its limit, and denial was steadily looking reality in the face. I had to go to the grocery store. Now, there was a time, in the not-too-distant past, where the act of replenishing cupboards gave a sense of security.


Ask anyone who grew up in a constant state of lack, and they will affirm a full cupboard and a garage or storage room where nothing is ever thrown away - just in case you may need it - provides a sense of security.


With the list in hand, well, it’s actually a screenshot of the whiteboard on the refrigerator, I head to Kroger in Lake Jackson. While cruising down the road, I’m thinking my life is turning out like a country song. It’s not the patriotic, God-fearing, family-loving ones. It was more like my dog died, and the bathtub fell through the floor of the trailer - with me in it.


Just your average I’m feeling sorry for myself kind of song because God knows I am the only one at Kroger paying these ever-increasing prices. It was time to “Straighten up and fly right”, as my mama would say.


As I am cruising down Hwy. 288, my attention turns to the wildflowers along the road singing their silent melodies. It occurred to me that every one of them had to go through a whole lot of dirt to get there.


I figured if they could silently sing, I certainly could. I turned the radio up and mentally rolled the windows down. Wind blowing through spiked hair is not an option. It takes a lot of work to pull off the look that says, “I forgot to comb it.”


About then a country song comes on that I haven’t heard before, “A Bible and a bus ticket home”. The words begin to wash over me and speak to the deep recesses of my heart. You know the places, where faith and hope live with piles of doubt and disbelief thrown on top. As faith and hope begin to rise, strength begins to surge to convince me that no matter what happens I am not without resources.


As the song continues, I find myself singing along. I can do that when it’s just me and the radio.


For some reason, riders in my car, and frequently those sitting in front of me at church, have expressed a lack of appreciation for my vocal abilities. If the truth be known, that’s why we sit on the front row at church. If others want to assume it’s because we are hyper-Christians, that’s their prerogative.


Cruising along the road in my red Honda, I’m singing at the top of my lungs. What I lack in quality, I make up in quantity as I sing along: “I found a note my mama left me. ‘With a Bible and a bus ticket home; one will get you where you’re going. When you haven’t got a prayer.


And one will bring you back soon if your dreams ain’t waiting there. You’re out on your own now. We won’t be there to fall back on, but you know we’re never farther than a Bible and a bus ticket home.”


I park my car, and with my phone in hand, head into Kroger. I’m braced and ready for whatever awaits me on the other side of the electronic doors because I have a Bible and a bus ticket home!


If I had a baby, the empty shelves where formula should be would be high on my list. But no 74-year-olds are having babies. If they did, I bet the availability of baby formula would not be an issue. What is an issue is the lack of cream cheese.


Now, I know cream cheese pales in comparison to baby formula, so don’t send me angry letters. Cream cheese, or the lack thereof, is a great lead in this recipe.


Homemade Cream Cheese

Ingredients

4 cups whole milk

2-3 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon salt


Instructions

In a heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the milk on med-high. Stirring constantly until it starts to a rolling simmer.


Reduce the heat to medium. Add the lemon juice 1 tablespoon at a time, in 1-minute intervals.


Continue stirring constantly until the mixture curdles and separates completely. This should take just a few minutes. (There will be a green liquid on the bottom and thick curdles on top). This should happen within a few minutes. Remove from the heat.


Line a colander with cheesecloth and place over a large bowl. Pour the curd mixture into the colander. Let it strain and cool for about 15 minutes.


Transfer curds to a food processor and process until curds come together and are totally smooth and creamy. It will take around 3-4 minutes. Keep going if your cream cheese is grainy. Add salt to taste. Store in a tightly covered container in the refrigerator and use within 7 days.


(To contact Shirley, please send emails to john.bulletin@gmail.com or write to The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, Tx. 77516)