I have a cellphone that I have with me all the time.  However, it is not attached to the end of my arm, and I do not look at it constantly. I don’t always immediately respond to a text.  My friends realize that now and just patiently wait until I happen to check my phone.

 I am amazed as I go about my day to see people who are obsessed with their phones.  In restaurants I see people who are not engaged in conversation, but everyone is looking at their cellphones.  I have begun to notice at places of business, employees are often preoccupied with their phones while they should be paying more attention to customers.  I am often tempted to speak to management but have yet to do so.  Steve and I talk a lot about people who are phone obsessed.  As teachers, we see it in students every day. The children who have their own phones are getting younger and younger.

I tell you that to tell you this.  Last weekend my husband was without his phone for two days due to a swimming pool incident.  In his defense, he was being a wonderful grandfather who forgot his phone was in his pocket when jumping in and joining his granddaughter in the pool.  I can’t tell you how many times I started to pick up the phone to call and ask him or tell him something.  He admitted to the same thing.  A feeling of being lost was with us for two days.

We wondered what we did 40 years ago before the cellphone age.  

I remember telling my class one time that when I was their age, we had one phone in the house that was attached to the wall. I was thrilled when we got a long cord so I could walk around while I talked on the phone. One of my students told me he was sorry I was poor as a child.  I laughed and told him it wasn’t poverty, that everyone had the same one-phone household.  

When Steve came into my class that day, they asked him about what the phone situation was at his house when he was young.  You should have seen their faces when he explained that his family was on a party line.  I’m sure they thought he really must have been poor!

• • •

I am not a big fan of Mexican food.  My friends know not to invite me out to a Mexican restaurant. However, many of my favorite recipes have a Mexican touch.  I hope you will give these a try.  Thanks for reading.

TACO  RANCH  CHICKEN

½ cup olive oil

½ cup ranch dressing

2 tablespoons taco seasoning

1 teaspoon lime juice

1 tablespoon white vinegar

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves

Pound chicken breast halves to a ¼-inch thickness; place in a gallon size ZipLoc bag.  Mix remaining ingredients to make a marinade and pour over chicken; refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.  Grill chicken over medium high heat about 10 minutes, or until chicken is no longer pink in the center.  

PEPPER  JACK  RICE  BAKE

2 tablespoons oil

1 red bell pepper, chopped

1 onion, chopped

1½ cup rice, cooked according to package directions (6 cups cooked)

1 (8-ounce) carton sour cream

1 can cream of celery soup

2 (4.5-ounce) cans chopped green chilies

1 cup corn kernels, fresh or frozen

2 cups shredded Pepper Jack cheese

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 375 degrees; lightly spray a 9-by-12-inch baking dish with cooking spray.  Heat oil in skillet, and cook red bell pepper and onion until softened.  Combine cooked rice, sour cream, soup, green chilies, corn, cooked pepper and onion and 1 cup of the cheese.  

Spread mixture into prepared dish; cover and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove top, and add remaining cup of cheese; cook for an additional 10 minutes.

TACO  RANCH  BITES

1 pound ground beef

1 (1-ounce) package taco seasoning

2 cans Ro-Tel tomatoes, undrained

2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

1 (8-ounce) bottle Ranch dressing

5 (15-count) frozen mini phyllo tart shells

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  In a skillet, cook ground beef until no longer pink; drain fat.  Add tomatoes and taco seasoning and cook for minutes; remove from heat.  Combine cheese, Ranch dressing, and taco meat; spoon mixture into frozen shells.

(You can freeze at this point.) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, until cheese melts. (Add 2-3 minutes if baking frozen tarts.)

Contact Lee Ann Flemming at lafkitchen@hughes.net.

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