I come from large, farm families, so we are heading into my favorite season of the year - picnic.
With as much practice the cooks in our clans got raising batches of country kids, the eating is spectacular.
The line can stretch about 120 to 140 cousins long when the Cole side of the family gets together. That's because usually no more than half of us show up at once.
Otherwise, there might tend to be a lot of people.
I begin getting ready for a Monday picnic by tapering off suppers starting the previous Wednesday.
I also attempt to begin other preparations, but my wife usually catches me. The morning of a picnic, I'll be rooting around the garage in a panic: ''Terry, where's that garbage can lid, the one I lined with plastic?''
''I put it back on the trash can where it belonged.''
''Aargh! That was my picnic plate. I wanted to make sure I could fit all five or six varieties of meatballs on my plate this year.''
''You're using regular picnic plates like everyone else.''
So I make it a practice to carry my plasticware in line with me. By the time I get to lasagna and three-bean salads, I've cleared room by already eating the potato salad and deviled eggs I picked up at the front of the line.
I'm a font of useful picnic tips. I've had a lot of practice. For example, a few years back, I shared my famous recipe for how to wake up late, fix a covered dish, and still get to the picnic on time. Since I've been banned from the food pages for some reason, I offer it up to you again now:
Uncle Burtie's Rapid Green Bean Casserole and Dress for Success
(with Some Help from Del Monte Foods)
1 can condensed cream of mushroom soup
3/4 cup milk
1 bottle cool breeze body wash
1 bottle shampoo (scent optional)
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 pair each fresh briefs, socks, T-shirt, jeans and sneakers
2 cans French-style green beans, drained
1 jumbo can cheddar cheese-flavored French fried onions
1 tube deodorant (gel or stick)
1 splash aftershave
1 leftover food item from fridge wrapped in foil
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Throw clothing items on bed
1. Combine soup, milk and pepper in 8x8-inch baking dish; mix well.
2. Stir in beans and almost half the onions. Snack on rest of half.
3. Place in oven; set timer for 10 minutes.
4. Jump in shower. Lather with body wash and shampoo hair. Rinse. When oven timer beeps, turn off the water.
5. Dash to kitchen. Remove baking dish from oven. Do not slop casserole, as you're still dressed for the shower.
6. Stir. Sprinkle most of remaining of onions; shove rest in mouth.
7. Place dish back in oven; set timer for 5 minutes.
8. Hot-foot it to bedroom and jump into clothing. Apply deodorant and aftershave as needed. Comb hair if time permits. When oven timer beeps, you are dressed. NOTE: There is no time for actual shaving.
9. Sprint to kitchen; remove dish; turn off oven.
10. Unwrap foil from leftover food item; cover dish with foil, stained side down. Feed dog leftover food item. NOTE: Used foil adds the secret flavor. It's best not to reveal the secret ingredient at the picnic.
11. Dive into the car and get yourself to picnic before weird cousin Woodrow eats all the deviled eggs again.
---- For more recipes (for nonsense), find the Burton W. Cole fan page on Facebook or write email@example.com.