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When snow falls here, California’s the place to be ‘ maybe

When snow falls here, California’s the place to be ‘ maybe
When snow falls here, California’s the place to be ‘ maybe
Former columnist Vickie McDougal of 'Vickie's Vittles,' takes cooking really seriously now in her remodeled, 'working' kitchen in Tujunga, Calif.

On the Wednesday before Christmas ‘ when the snow hit here big time and all those people nearly froze stranded all night on Interstate 64, and all those people at O’Bannon Publishing Co. and elsewhere around Harrison County who couldn’t get to work or had to be picked up and hauled to town in a 4WD pickup or SUV or H2 ‘ I sat on the McDougal household’s patio in the bright Southern California sunshine, and felt really, really, really … great. OK, guilty, but great.
Usually, Virgil and I vacation in the spring or summer and head for the beach. Usually, however, the weather we leave back home turns ideal while we’re stuck in something just short of a hurricane. Now, there’s a lot more to be said for a winter trip to visit ‘the kids,’ Stuart and Vickie McDougal and granddaughter, 16-year-old Mandy.
It never pays to feel too smug, though.
The last three days of our stay it began to rain, even though the song says, ‘It never rains in Southern California.’ Don’t believe that. It didn’t just drizzle, mind you; most of the time it came down in sheets. The first day the weather turned foul was the one we had picked to visit the President Ronald Reagan Library and his final resting place.
The site is breathtaking, as it sits on the top of a hill overlooking Reagan’s beloved Simi Valley. There was, of course, a gift shop, and I couldn’t resist bringing my editor, Randy West, a book filled with Reagan quotes. ‘Here, Mom,’ said Vickie. ‘Look what I found. You’ve got to get it for Randy. He’ll have a fit!’ See, our daughter Vickie knows Randy quite well, even though she lives far away. She gets The Corydon Democrat and reads it cover to cover every week.
The rain continued for days after we left. It turned cold enough to wear a sweater jacket (people out there had on thick parkas ‘ you’d have thought it was 10 below). Before long, Southern California had gotten its normal allocation of rain for the entire year in just a few days. Three houses that sat on the side of a hill, ones Virgil had especially admired, are gone.
I’m not going to get into all the other recent weather phenomena, the horrors of the tsunami that struck dozens of nations on the Indian Ocean or the mudslide in LaConchita, Calif.
I’m going to tell you about my daughter’s remodeled kitchen, which she thought, as the work progressed, would be a disaster. Instead, it’s a beaut. The thing is, Vickie and Stuart decided a few years ago to buy a new house, but when they started shopping, they found that what they wanted would have been far too expensive. So they fixed up their three-bedroom bungalow in Tujunga to suit themselves.
Vickie is into cooking. I mean really into cooking. She loves to do dinner parties, and she’s built up a pretty good following in her catering business. So she wanted a kitchen that ‘worked.’
Basically, everything is designed to hold stuff, and some cabinet drawers can withstand 250 pounds of stuff. The countertops are granite, which means you can put anything on them. They are non-stainable, unwarpable and basically indestructible. She has two refrigerators, two stoves (one that runs water into her pasta pot), two ovens plus a warming oven, two prep sinks, two garbage disposals, two dishwashers, and one pastry station. Just one. But it’s to die for. The counter is low, for easy kneading or stirring, and there’s a pull-up shelf that holds the KitchenAid at your fingertips.
Vickie’s kitchen ‘works.’ Consequently, so did I.
The first full day at her house, I made her favorite chocolate/peanut butter chip cookies (two batches), plus peanut butter cookies with one end dipped in melted chocolate, and confectioner’s sugar-covered pecan sandies, a lattice-worked cherry pie, two banana-nut bread loaves, and two pecan pies. And I’m not a baker. I’m known more for my sliding layer cakes. No one could go far wrong in that kitchen.
Some of you may remember Vickie. She wrote a recipe column for this newspaper, ‘Vickie’s Vittles,’ a decade or so ago. I’m trying to talk her into a rerun. Then, we wouldn’t have to fly 2,000 miles to sample her cooking.
On second thought …
(To be continued next week)

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