We are feminists (who like to eat and, sometimes, cook)

The tiresome women who insist that feminists oppose love and marriage make me tired. The young women who insist that they’re not feminists make me tired.

Miriam in her studio

In my mind — and it’s been this way since the scales fell from my consciousness in the mid-1970s — real feminists want women and men to have the widest possible range of choices. Children, no children, house-husband, house-wife — as far as I’m concerned all fit within the rubric of feminism (whatever that might be) as long as people engage productively in their world.

Some of the most interesting women I’ve known have been stay-at-home moms. Conversely, some of the most boring, self-involved people (male and female) I’ve met have supposedly great careers. And so it goes.

I don’t know Ann Romney, but I have a Mormon friend without pots of money who works hard every day at home to make her children good citizens of the world. She makes the best bread I’ve ever eaten, taught me to like kale (in a sausage chowder), met her husband when they were both in the Army and jumped out of a plane for the first time when she was pregnant with her oldest. Now that’s a woman, hear her roar!

Just before Easter three of my former newsroom buddies and I met for wine and laughter in Miriam’s painting studio (you can see some of her lovely work behind her or get a better look at Miriamdurkin.com).

Among the 4 of us we’ve had 7 marriages, 9 children and, so far, 9 grandchildren (Three of us had very young marriages in the beliefs that if we didn’t marry right then! we’d never have another chance and that an unmarried woman was a non-person.) We’ve written poetry, written about books, movies, pop music, dance; NASCAR; we’ve edited same. We’ve walked dogs, baked cookies (or not), diapered babies and traveled for fun and for work when those babies were sick (or not).

In 34 years we have never had nothing to discuss!

Then, of course, we went out for supper at The Pewter Rose, a favorite bistro now owned and run by the wife of one of our former newsroom photographers. And what does it tell you that we ALL ordered the same special — a whiskey- and honey-glazed salmon fillet over baby greens with lemon-basil vinaigrette,  goat cheese and candied walnuts ?

My somewhat warm and fuzzy point is, I think!, we need to drop the labels and do what it takes to wake up in the mornings drug-free and looking forward to the day, open to the unexpected and to change. And help others do the same. And strew this life path with good food that somebody has cooked. Like this 384-calorie per serving Cajun shrimp, spinach and grits from the May issue of Woman’s Day magazine.

Shrimp and grits has (have?) become a cliche on Southern menus, but this version is so colorful and healthy that it breathes new life into that fixture. And, p.s., my husband fixed the grits. Perfectly. For more nutritional pop serve with blood orange slices and broiled Roma tomato halves, topped with olive oil, salt, pepper, thyme and a wee bit of brown sugar.

Cajun shrimp, spinach and grits

1 cup quick-cooking grits

2 tablespoons olive oil

1-1/2 pounds large peeled and deveined shrimp

2 teaspoons Cajun or blackening seasoning (low- or no-salt)

1/2 teaspoon salt, divided, and pepper to taste

2 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced

1 cup frozen corn, thawed, or canned whole-kernel corn, rinsed and drained

1 bunch spinach, thick stems discarded

Cook grits according to package directions (thank you, el Patron, as his Salvadoran milkhands used to call him). Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Season shrimp with Cajun seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon salt and cook for 2 minutes. Turn and cook until pink opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes more. Remove skillet from heat, add lime juice and toss to coat. Transfer to plate and wipe out skillet with paper towel.

Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil over medium heat. Add garlic and cook, stirring, until golden, 1 to 2 minutes. Add corn and heat through. Add spinach and 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper and cook, tossing, for 1 minute. Return shrimp to skillet and toss to combine. If spinach has not wilted, turn off heat and put lid on skillet until it does. Serve over grits, or gree-yuts as it’s pronounced in these parts.

I mistakenly (!) added 2 tablespoons of the Cajun seasoning, and it was not too much. Maybe my seasoning is old and faded, maybe it’s my tastebuds or maybe this dish just needs that “Bam!”

Granddaughter Ashley embodies the joy possible in any good -ism.
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