Margaret Shumate column: Pass the Sock-O-Tash

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 23, 2007

By Margaret Shumate

For The Salisbury Post

Grand old recipes never die but often briefly step aside and share the limelight with newer ones. Betty Crocker has been a household name as long as I can remember.

However, it now seems a young pretty culinary wizard named Rachael Ray has become the new kitchen queen.

I have to admit, I never had much cooking experience growing up.

My mother was an excellent cook but never wanted to share her kitchen until clean-up time. For some strange reason, at that particular time, I suddenly remembered I hadn’t finished my homework or that my sore finger was hurting really bad.

Later in life, when I got my own kitchen, I collected recipes and along with Mom’s helpful hints began experimenting with the big bad oven.

Although cooking was not on the top 10 list of things I enjoyed doing, I was happy and proud of my creations most of the time.

Until once at a Thompson family reunion when I discovered my brother Tom had placed packs of Tums and Rolaids beside the dishes I had prepared. Thankfully, the ribbing and laughter was short-lived as everyone considered the source of the prank.

After all, he had earlier tried to convince everyone that our mother had dropped her potato casserole on the ground and that the chives on top were actually grass.

Fast forward to the present. I still cook very little and rely on frozen and canned foods.

When grocery shopping, I often feel I must have on an apron or cook’s hat, because shoppers stop and ask me what aisle something is on, which brands I prefer or other cooking-related questions.

GET REAL, people! This is ME you’re asking and my name is NOT Betty or Rachael.

Once while reading a nutrition label on a frozen food item, I noticed a woman who kept opening and closing doors in the vegetable section.

With hands on her hips and looking very frustrated, she turned to me and said, “Excuse me, but could you help me find something?”

“Well, I’ll try. What are you looking for?”

She handed me her grocery list.

“The man I am taking care of wants some sock-o-tash. I can’t find any and I don’t even know what it is.”

“Oh, you mean succotash,” I said and then clarified her mystery.

“If you can’t find any, just buy the lima beans and corn separately and mix them yourself.”

She selected a package of corn.

“I don’t see any lima beans except Food Lion brand and he told me not to buy Food Lion brand.”

I assured her that Food Lion brand was as good as any.

Now, since she had, after all, asked for my help, I continued.

“Before you go back to work, just remove the outer wrapper and hide it in your purse. If he should ask any questions, just tell him you dropped it on the ground.”

Shame on me?

But the man needed his Sock-o-Tash!

Please excuse me — I have to run. The timer on my microwave is buzzing.

Bon Appetit!