The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK

August 2, 2011

Fulfilled lifelong dream? Keep cookin'

Enid News and Eagle

— Have you fulfilled your lifelong dreams? Think about it.

When I was a kid, my sisters and I would lie out in the yard in the shade on soft green grass and talk about what we wanted to do and be and have when we grew up. We had lots of dreams we knew would never come true. We knew we would never be gorgeous or be Miss America. We knew we would never go to Hollywood or be on a New York stage. We  certainly wanted to get a good education and be self-supportive, but we really never believed we would set the world on fire.

Each of us sisters have achieved part of our dreams. We are all self-supporting. All of us are educated to the extent we wanted to be. We have all had interesting careers. We have all been happily married. We dreamed big like our very lives depended on it.

Back then I made a list of all the things I thought I wanted to do before I got too old. I have achieved many (in fact most) of them. I have traveled and seen many interesting places in the United States and world. I have seen “Les Miserables” on stage with a professional traveling company. I wanted a pretty landscaped yard with lots of grass. Our house is much the same way I pictured it as a kid growing up.  There are very few goals I have not met in my professional life with writing and speaking.

Recently, I found that “bucket list” of things I wanted to accomplish in my lifetime.  Nearly all of them have come to pass. I have acquired a college degree. I married the man of my dreams. I am frugal, so have a certain monetary security. I have a comfortable home to enjoy and entertain with ease. I continue to study the Bible for more depth in my faith. I enjoy writing this column weekly. Because of this column, I meet wonderful people all over the state.

What do we do when we have met all our life’s goals? Do we just fold our hands and sit around with nothing to do? I think not. Dreams don’t retire. We just change direction and enter another interesting phase of our lives. The first third is preparation for life. The second third of our lives is for making a living and establishing our priorities. The last third, after retirement, is when the fun really begins. Now we work for nothing except our own satisfaction and to think of others. We do volunteer work. We take on many community projects. We are busier now than we ever were when we had regular jobs to go to every day ... and we are happier because we do just what we want to do.

We still dream dreams. We plan for our time of rest in the future. We contemplate old age and what we will do when we are forced to quit all work and community activity. We just keep moving old age further and further down the road.

It is not unusual for many people to live to be 100 years old nowadays. The “Today” show highlights those wonderful hardy souls every morning. They are beautiful people and have such great philosophies of life. They are all so positive and honest about living. They are an inspiration to us youngsters in our 80s and such. They have fulfilled their lifelong dreams of living a century. What a pattern to follow!

I was lucky my parents raised all of us to dream big. We knew we had our parents’ support and blessings in anything we undertook. But we knew we had to stand on our own two feet. I feel sorry for people who rely on an inheritance to live. I have never seen anyone who completely relied on money from home that amounted to a “hill of beans”. Success has to come from within ourselves, and we must work at life to succeed. We can’t all be lawyers or doctors or professional people, but we all have the ability to succeed at something. Doing that something to the best of our ability is success — and our lifelong dream.

Having the cooking class position at Autry Tech offered to me was a lifelong dream. I never really thought of it as a dream, but I have prepared myself all my life for just such an opportunity. I have always enjoyed cooking with others and this seemed such a natural way to accomplish that. What a joy it has been. And I think those classes keep me informed and young by associating with those interesting — and interested — young people who want to learn to cook basic things. It almost takes me back to Grandma’s kitchen to  enjoy those classes.

The next classes at Autry Tech will be in the fall. We will do casseroles to make and freeze for  a busy day. We will also do a class on “Soup’s On” for the cool evenings of fall and winter. Several people have said they need something homemade to cook for their families that they can do quickly without take-out.  These are  the classes for you.

In the meantime, cook this for a quick supper: Everything can be prepared in advance.

Broccoli Stir Fry

3⁄4 pound pork, beef, or chicken, cut in thin strips

2 cups broccoli florets

1 large onion, chopped

1⁄2 cup chopped celery

1 large bell pepper, cut in strips

2 medium carrots, cut thin

3⁄4 cup water

2 teaspoons corn starch

1⁄2 teaspoon sugar

1⁄2 teaspoon salt

1⁄4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons soy sauce

2 tablespoons oil

1⁄2 cup cashews

Mix seasoning, soy sauce, cornstarch, sugar and water. Set aside. In wok (or skillet), heat oil. Add meat and cook until brown. Remove from oil. Add vegetables and stir until partially cooked. Add water solution. Simmer, stirring often, until vegetables are crisp but tender and sauce is thickened (about one to three minutes). Add meat and cashews. Serve over cooked rice or noodles.

Send your comments to: Peggy Goodrich, Food For Thought, P.O. Box 1192, Enid, OK 73702.