A few days ago I was doing a magazine interview when the reporter asked me about my most embarrassing moment. It took me a few seconds to scan through my brain – there are lots of those kinds of moments for me – when I arrived at a incident in the grocery store where one of my readers recognized me from the blog. It was a few years ago and was one of the first times that I had been recognized like that. The reason that it landed in that “most embarrassing moments” category is because of where I was in the grocery store and what I was doing. There I was, a newly signed author working on my first cookbook, and I was standing in front of, you guessed it, the boxed dinner section holding a box of Hamburger Helper. There was a long pause in my response and then when I started to tell the reporter about that moment, I started questioning myself. I remember thinking how embarrassed I was after it happened, but as I was about recall the event for the reporter, I realized that that wasn’t something I should be ashamed of. So yeah. There. I said it. I feed my family Hamburger Helper. And we kinda like it. And yeah, I wrote a cookbook, too. So what. That is real life. No, it doesn’t happen all the time. Maybe not even once a month, but some days, after a long day at the office, or a tee ball game, I need something quick and easy. And I’ve always argued that any home cooked meal is better than a drive-through one – in lots of ways.
You know, we need to be honest with ourselves. We’re all guilty of making things seem better, or fancier, or more impressive and social media just drives that tendency even more. But real life is real life. And I think it was Annette Funicello who said, “Life doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.” I think that’s so true. Sometimes, on the outside, our lives seem so perfect. When on the inside, we know they aren’t. It’s just like me and that danged Hamburger Helper. I might even venture to say that I like Hamburger Helper, and maybe I shouldn’t say that being that I wrote a cookbook and all. But liking Hamburger Helper is the truth. And here are some other truths about me. Though filled with love, my house isn’t always spotless. I’m a bit overweight and I’m losing my hair – like REALLY losing my hair. And contrary to popular belief, writing that cookbook didn’t make me rich – not even anywhere close – so we, like most families, struggle some months to pay bills. And that’s okay with me. And it should be okay with you too. What do you need to be honest with yourself about?
This recipe for Okra and Tomatoes is one that can be found in my cookbook, but it’s so quick and so easy, that I just had to share it with y’all here. It is also great because you can use frozen okra and a 14 1/2 ounce can of stewed tomatoes if you don’t have the fresh varieties available. That way you can have okra and tomatoes any time of the year.