Wednesday 7 December 2011

A bit of fun . . .

When I was a child, I always knew my mother was superstitious, although I may not have known the name for it at the time. I only knew that everyday occurances were always accompanied with a "saying" or two . . . like for instance "knives and spoons bring pantaloons and forks bring gentle ladies.". If we were dropped cutlery at all, it meant a visitor was coming . . . fork meant a lady and knife or spoon would bring a gentleman. If you put a piece of clothing on inside out, that was good luck! Better not change it back to rightside out though, for the luck would change! Shoes on the table . . . definitely bad luck. Spilling salt, likewise was bad luck . . . you had to throw a pinch over your shoulder without looking . . . now was it the left shoulder or the right? I think it was the left.

The opening of a door of its own accord indicates that a visitor is on the way, whilst a slamming door may damage the 'spirit of the house' and should be avoided.

When baking bread, remember . . .
'She that pricks bread with fork or knife;
will never be a happy maid or wife.' A loaf that splits open while it is in the oven warns of a death to come in the family; a loaf with a hollow centre presages a death; it is unlucky to turn a loaf upside down after cutting the first slice for this will cause the head of the household to fall ill; if a loaf crumbles in your hand as you are cutting it there is going to be a quarrel before very long; drop a slice of buttered bread butter side up and a visitor will arrive.

When you have finished your boiled egg, crush the shell or push the spoon through the bottom to avoid bad luck. This stems from the belief that witches collect up the empty shells and use them to go to sea and work spells against hapless mariners. Also, do not bring eggs into the house after dark as it is bad luck.

To stir the teapot anti-clockwise will stir up a quarrel. If two women pour from the same pot one of them will have a baby within a year. Mom believed in 'reading the tea-leaves' to predict the future, and also cards. Many hours were spent in these pursuits. She had a special deck of cards on the dresser in her bedroom which we weren't allowed to touch or tamper with.

Crossing two knives was bad luck. If you are given a present of a knife, give a coin in return to avoid 'cutting' the friendship.

'Let the superstitious wife
Near the child's heart lay a knife.
Point be up, and haft be down,
While she gossips in the town.
This amongst other mystic charms
Keeps the sleeping child from harms.'

If two spoons are found in a tea cup there will be a wedding in the family; if you drop one and it lands with the bowl upwards you are in for a pleasant surprise.

Members of the opposite sex should never dry themselves on the same towel as this will invariably lead to a quarrel between them.

When washing up, if you break a plate or cup, you can expect another breakage before the end of the day unless you deliberately smash some other small item to avoid the bad luck.

When rising from the table take care not to upset your chair, for this is a sign that you have lied at some time during your conversation. Anyone who lies down on a table will die within a year; any engaged girl who sits on a table while talking to her fiancé risks losing him; it is unlucky to change your position at the table after a place has been allocated to you; to place your chair back against the wall or fold your napkin after a meal at a fiend's home will prevent you ever visiting there again.

To break a mirror resulted in seven years bad luck. Early man, on seeing his image reflected in water, believed it represented his soul and should anything disturb this image then his own life was in danger. Mirrors have always been closely associated with magic. Mirrors are covered over with cloth in the room where someone has died for fear that anyone who sees himself in the glass will similarly die.

It is unlucky to pass anyone on the stairs (cross your fingers if you do so). Stumbling on the staircase is said to be a good omen and may indicate a wedding in the household before long.

Do not sing in bath as this will lead to sorrow before evening; any young girl who persistently splashes herself or her clothes when washing will end up with a husband who is a drunk. Get out of bed the right side. The left-hand side is associated with the Devil; but, if you can't avoid it, put your right sock and shoe on first. You will always get the best night's sleep if your bed is positioned in a north-south direction with your head to the south . . . this will ensure a long life. To be rich, point your head tothe east; to travel widely, the west. It is unlucky to put a hat on the bed.

China ornaments of animals should never be placed so that they face a door for they will allow the luck to run out of the house. It is unlucky to sweep any dust or waste material directly out of the house, as this will carry the good luck with it. Sweep such waste into the centre of the room, collect it up in a pan and then carry the lot out of doors to avoid any repercussions. A new broom should always be used the first time to sweep something into the house, to symbolize luck.

A bird that flies into a house, foretells an important message, whereas if one hits your window and dies . . . there's sure to be a death in the family, but if a bird poops on your car, it is good luck. Likewise if it poops on your head!

If a black cat walks towards you, it brings good fortune, but if it walks away, it takes the good luck with it. Oh, and don't forget, keep cats away from babies because they "suck the breath" of the child.

When cows lie on high ground it is said to be a sign of good weather to come, while if they feed too close together or low excessively then rain is imminent. If a cow breaks into your garden then there will be a death in the family.

A cricket is a lucky house spirit that takes its luck away when it leaves.

To see a crow, one's bad, two's luck, three's health, four's wealth, five's sickness, six is death . . .

A howling dog at night means bad luck or somebody close to you will be very sick or worse.

The bright scarlet ladybird is a luck-bringer, probably because it is traditionally associated by its colour with fire. It is a sign of good fortune if one lands on a person's hand or dress. It must, however, be allowed to fly away of its own accord, and must not be brushed off. It is permissible to speed it onwards by a gentle puff, and by the recitation of the rhyme which runs,
Ladybird, ladybird, fly away home.
Your house is on fire and your children are gone.

A peacock feather has an evil eye at the end. Argus, the Greek legend, says a hundred eyed monster was turned into a peacock with all its eyes in its tail. Never bring a peacock feather indoors for decoration as they are unlucky.

A wish made on the first robin of spring will be granted.

Eating carrots improves your night vision . . . fish is brain food . . . chewing gum, if swallowed, remains in your body for seven years . . . eating the crust of the bread makes your hair curl . . . a pimple on your tongue means you've lied. When you hold a buttercup beneath your chin . . . if it doesn't shine yellow on your chin . . . well, you don't like butter.

Finally, never gift a person with a wallet or purse without putting a coin inside . . . an empty gift such as that will surely bring them bad luck.

This richly embroidered childhood surely never did us any harm. It made for an interesting life, and while these things may be true or not, it doesn't really matter much in the scheme of things. I'll never drop a knife without hearing my mom's gentle voice whispering Knives and spoons bring pantaloons . . . and I reckon that's a good thing. I better go get dressed now . . . a little bird just sat on my windowsill, and I am sure to get some company soon!

It may seem bold of me to claim this as the world's best, but I do. It is, as far as I'm concerned and in my kitchen I guess that's what counts!

*The World's Best Macaroni and Cheese*
Serves 4
Printable Recipe

Nothing says comfort quite like macaroni and cheese. This is, in my opinion, the very best version!

16 ounces of macaroni
1/4 cup butter
3 TBS plain flour
2 cups hot chicken broth
1 cup milk
1 cup shredded gruyere cheese
1 cup shredded red leicester cheese
1 cup shredded strong cheddar cheese
1/4 cup grated fresh parmesan cheese
freshly ground black pepper to taste
a dash of tabasco sauce
for topping:
a bit of Parmesan, cheddar, gruyere and red leicester cheese grated and mixed together with a few bread crumbs

Pre-heat the oven to 200*C/400*F. Lightly butter a large shallow casserole dish and set aside.

Grate all your cheeses and mix them together in a bowl. Set aside.

Bring a large pot of slightly salted water to the boil and add the macaroni. Cook according to the package directions, draining it while it is still a tad bit undercooked. Drain it well and rise with cold water. Set aside.

Make the sauce by melting the butter over medium heat in a heavy saucepan. Stir in the flour, mixing well and allow to cook for about a minute. Add the chicken broth, whisking it in vigorously until the mixture is thickened and smooth. Whisk in the milk. Heat thoroughly. Stir in 1/2 of the cheese mixture until it is well melted and amalgamated. Season to taste with black pepper and tabasco sauce.

Place about 1/3 of the cooked macaroni in the buttered dish. Pour over 1/3 of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle on 1/2 of the reserved cheese. Repeat layering until you finish up with the final 1/3 of the cheese sauce. Sprinkle the top with a final layer of the cheese bits mixed with the bread crumbs.

Bake in the heated oven until nicely browned and bubbling. Remove from the oven and enjoy!

Over in The English Kitchen today, there's a delicious Baked Apple Brulee!

“Patience is not simply enduring; it is enduring well!”
~Dieter F. Uchtdorf

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