Putting on the Ritz

I cannot remember a time when I didn’t love Ritz crackers.

Ritz
Ritz Crackers

My first Ritz memories are of eating them with peanut butter. I’m sure my mother made this delicacy for us, but I really recall enjoying peanut butter Ritz with my dad. In fact, when my mom was gone and my father was in charge of feeding the hungry horde of people left at home, you could count on peanut butter and Ritz crackers being on the menu.

My father’s mother enjoyed experimenting with making treats dipped in chocolate. Her kitchen as filled with all sorts of sweets covered in chocolate. But her best creation might have been Ritz cracker peanut butter sandwiches which were dipped entirely in chocolate. Those were amazing!

But really, if you ask me, a Ritz cracker can be topped with with nearly anything, and still be tasty:  cream cheese, pimento cheese, spinach and artichoke spread. The list goes on and on.

Because there’s really nothing like a Ritz cracker …

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

Yesterday was 4-H Fall Fest.

Fall Fest is a big deal in our house. It’s a fun day of 4-H competitions, including lots of cookery contests. Each year, we start several weeks before Fall Fest looking for great recipes to enter into the various food categories.

This year, Nathan and I found what we thought would be a winner:  Creole Cheesecake Spread.

Creole-Shrimp-Cheesecake
Creole Cheesecake (photo from Taste of Home magazine)

 

This wasn’t your typical cheesecake dessert. This was more like a savory dip that was baked in a springform pan. It contained shrimp, crawfish tails, some Cajun seasonings and a whole lot of cream cheese. And all of this was baked on a Ritz cracker crust.

Oh my!

When that baby came out of the oven, Nathan and I immediately spread some on top of a Ritz cracker. It was so amazingly delicious that we thought we had gone to heaven!

Next, Nathan and I packed some of this Creole Cheesecake over to our neighbor, who is about as Cajun as they come and known all over Lafayette for his cooking skills. We asked his opinion. After he took a sample taste, he asked us for the recipe! WooHoo … we felt good about our chances at a blue ribbon.

Would you believe Creole Cheesecake Spread didn’t even place? How is it possible for a Ritz cracker not to win? I am still not sure. However, my entire family enjoyed the rest of the Creole Cheesecake Spread while we watched the Saints games against the Bengals.

I am happy to report that the Saints won … and the Creole Cheesecake was a winner with everyone too!

~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~ ~~~

This weekend I enjoyed a lot of Ritz crackers. I don’t keep them in my house very often, because if I do, I will eat them one long sleeve after another. I don’t have this problem with chips or cookies, but give me one Ritz and I’ll eat a dozen!

I remembered a story my dad used to tell quite often about his days in Vietnam. Apparently, after he had been in Vietnam for quite some time, he went to the PX and discovered they had just received a shipment of new items to sell in the store. Among the new merchandise, my dad found a large tin of Ritz crackers.

Ritz Cracker Tin
1970’s vintage Ritz cracker tin

Even though it cost over $5, he bought it! He also got some peanut butter. My dad said it was worth every penny because it tasted like home.

I always loved that story.  Probably because I understood that particular story more than any of the other things he would share with us about his time in Vietnam.

Anyway, between my dad’s birthday on Nov. 9th, Fall Fest on Nov. 10th and Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11th, I’ve been eating Ritz crackers and thinking quite a bit about my Daddy.

Both have brought me a lot of happiness … though I enjoyed the memories of my father far, far more than the Ritz crackers. .

Tomorrow, the leftover Ritz crackers will go into the trash. I’ll no longer be indulging in one of my favorite unhealthy foods. As much as I love them, Ritz crackers aren’t good for me.

However, I’ll still continue to enjoy thinking about my dad. Not a day goes by when I don’t remember him in some fashion. And I plan on keeping it that way because generally whenever I think about my dad, it makes me smile.

So in this Thanksgiving season, I’m grateful for my dad and the wonderful man that he was. And I’m glad that God thought up giving us brains that are able to remember and recall the past so that it can bring us joy.

And every so often, I’m thankful for the enjoyment of a simple Ritz cracker … especially if it’s topped with a bit of peanut butter.

 

Advertisements

The Whole World

 He's got the whole world

Are you singing yet? 

I am! I can’t help it.  I just love this peppy, feel-good song.

Sometimes, when we aren’t singing The Itsy-Bitsy Spider for the 50th time in a row, my foster toddlers will let me sing this little ditty to them.  I always start off intending to sing only the original verses, but eventually I find myself making up my own words. My foster son, who is already prone to making up silly versions of songs such as  Mary Had a Little Rock, enjoys making up new versions to this song with me.  We’ve sung everything from “He’s got all the dump trucks in His hands” to my personal favorite “He’s got all the cookies, brother, in His hands.”

This song fascinate me when I was a small child. I tried to imagine a physical God, so enormous that He could hold everything in His hands. I thought about this and tried to make sense of it in my head, but it was so hard to wrap my small brain around. After all, my daddy had big hands, but he couldn’t hold my entire family in his hands, much less the entire world. Just exactly how big were the hands of God?!

I was perhaps six or seven when a scary thought occurred to me. What if I were sitting close to the edge of God’s hands and I fell off! The very idea caused me such intense fear that I actually had a dream about it. Fortunately, in the dream, a pegasus caught me and I rode on its back for quite some time before finding myself sitting back on the gigantic hands of God.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

What sorts of things do we hold in our hands?

Usually, I hold onto things important or valuable things. Something I don’t want to lose.

The tiny hands of my foster toddlers. My car keys. My iPhone. My debit card.

Sometimes I laugh to see the two babies grasping things in their hands, refusing to let go, squealing if someone tries to take it from them. They always hold tightly the toys they love the most … or sometimes the toys they know the other one loves most. Either way, like me, they hold onto things of value.

Therefore, if God really does hold the entire world in His hands, it signifies my personal value (along with the value of all creation) in God’s eyes. What an flabbergasting thing to consider! I am so valuable to God that He holds me close and keeps me in His hands!

 But, how true is this notion that God holds the world in His hands?

Stop with me for just a moment to consider the words of Psalm 95, particularly verses 2-5.

Let us come before His presence with thanksgiving;
Let us shout joyfully to Him with psalms.
For the Lord is the great God,
And the great King above all gods.
In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land.

It’s more than just a happy song or a crazy notion. God really does hold all of creation in His hands. Perhaps it’s a metaphorical description, but what an amazing truth. There is nothing at all that is out of God’s control. Every person, every creature, every plant, every created thing … all of it is under God’s supervision and protection.

Knowing this, how can we not be overwhelmed with a thankful heart over God’s love for us?

With a Thankful Heart-2

Father, I thank You today because You do hold all of creation in Your hands. I have no need to worry or fear because You are always with me, keeping me safe in Your loving care. Amen.