Here is the Recipe...
- 3 pounds chicken wings (cut--no tips)
- 1/2 cup corn starch
- 2 eggs beaten
- Place Chicken in a single layer on a cookie sheet...sprinkle with accent and garlic salt...put in fridge for one hour.
- after chilled, dip in corn starch and egg~quick fry (brown on each side) then put on foil-lined cookie sheet.
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 cup chicken broth
- 1 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1 cup vinegar
- 4 tablespoons ketchup
- 1 teaspoon accent
- dash salt
- Heat in sauce pan until dissolved
Pour 1/2 of the sauce over the wings...bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes...turn chicken over and add remaining sauce...bake another 30 minutes.
Now...how about a story?
I usually make this recipe once a year...every July. Tonight I improvised, instead of chicken wings, I used chicken breasts--and after dropping the breaded boobs in the deep fryer for a couple of minutes for color and crispiness--I decided to place them in a large saucepan filled with the homemade sweet and sour sauce. On a low simmer, I cooked them for about 25 minutes, and served them with a side of rice.
My friend Darla gave me this recipe almost twenty years ago. She had brought a batch of the wings over to a housewarming party I was having one January evening.
I met Darla years ago. We were co-workers first--and fast friends from the start. I remember when her name first went on the schedule for training. We usually got some doozies at the Pub. Darla?!? As we looked at the bulletin board, we snickered and placed bets on how long this "Darla" would last.
From the get-go we knew she was a keeper.
She reminded me of Darla from the Little Rascals. I told her this the first time I was introduced to her. She laughed from her belly. I can still hear her laugh. Like her smile, it was infectious.
Darla was a loyal friend. She was a fantastic cook. And, the lady knew how to throw a party. Darla had a knack for detail.
Every summer she would host pool parties in her backyard. Always spur of the moment, she made sure her guests were well taken care of. From delicious appetizers to a gourmet meal following a quick dip in the pool to a cool, refreshing cocktail refilled before you could even think of requesting another~she was the ultimate hostess.
Every time I went ... it never failed...rain, lightning, and thunder would follow. One particular hot, sunny Thursday, I was at work. Darla and my other cohorts were suspiciously absent. Around 1:30, the owner's wife told me to punch out. It was slow and it was time the "new girl" figured out how to do things on her own.
As I was leaving, the Missus mentioned all the girls were over at Darla's pool...and suggested I head over...as she looked out the window to the cloudless sky she assured me I would be more than welcome based on the weather...the only reason they haven't been inviting you is because your attendance usually results in a "rain-out". As I ran home to grab a suit and towel, the boss gave the hostess a call to let her know I was on my way.
Amazingly enough, a black cloud followed me as I traveled about ten miles east to Darla's house. I no more than put my car in park out front, lightning struck and the skies opened. As I walked up the driveway I was met by a soaking wet Darla wheeling her newly purchased appetizer cart into the house. Why she just didn't dump it in the garbage behind the garage I'll never know...the shrimp was floating...the tortilla chips soaked...and the dip...not even salvageable.
She looked like a wet dog. As she blew her rain-soaked bangs out of her eyes she finally spoke. "Oh, hi...so glad you could make it, chips and dip?" The look on her face, simply priceless.
Luckily, she wasn't mad too long.
A couple weeks later she showed up to work in a new pair of shoes. She refused to wear the "nurses whites" all the other waitresses wore. Her feet were huge--I think a size eleven if I'm remembering correctly--think Marge Simpson...better yet, think Peggy Hill. Anyway, she special ordered a pair of leather Nikes with a Kelly green swoosh...to match our polyester green wrap-around uniform skirt that we sported.
For a mere ninety bucks, I too could own a pair. I gave her the cash and within a week she got me a pair in an 8 1/2 EEE. We were the shit--the envy of all the other girls working the lunch grind. That was until we worked a few doubles. Seems the leather shoes coupled with the required pantyhose and twelve hour shifts made for some stinky-ass-ed feet. My pigs didn't just smell, they reeked.
My good pal took care of me...after I complained she showed up the next day with odor-eaters.
We worked together for a few years before she moved on to greener pastures. Lucky girl got a job at a Country Club and boasted of a pretty impressive hourly wage as well as a guaranteed 18%...no matter what.
A couple weeks before she hung up her apron for the last time, we worked a holiday together. Fourth of July. Darla did not like working nights and she was positively pissed she was on schedule for this particular snooze-fest. As she headed out back to have a puffer in the gated dirty linen/garbage area/official smoking area, the rest of us decided to have some fun.
I had just been outside before her and spotted a prey mantis perched on a bag of dirty place mats. I scooped him up and put the little bugger inside a Styrofoam cup. While the pissed-off camper finished her cigarette, we started placing empty drink glasses on table 24 (her only table of the night) in the Pub.
After she got the word she was cut, she grabbed a tray and headed out to clean up her table...I had dropped off the "hopper" a minute or two earlier in the center of the mess. Anywhoo...as Darla was traying the dirty glasses...the preying mantis jumped out of the mess...she, scared to death of an ant, freaked the flip out. Her screams and yelps drowned out the sound of crashing glass.
When she saw the lot of us wiping tears from our eyes and giggling by the bar, Darla merely dropped off her tray at the servers' station and said out of the side of her mouth, "Assholes". She punched out and headed down the road to save us a table at our favorite after-work watering hole.
Like I said before, she never stayed mad long.
A couple of years later, she got me a gig at the Country Club and this time she trained me. Every July, the club hosted a huge tournament for the Kennedy School. Members with the big bucks wined and dined clients. We fed the golfers breakfast--cleared and set for lunch--then spent the rest of the afternoon getting ready for the big dinner in the evening when the golfers' wives would join them in the main dining room
Without fail, around two o'clock, a hearse usually arrived at the back door from an area funeral home filled with flowers. Darla explained the first time this happened that this was "the best part of the day". I was horrified.
Our "job" was to take the arrangements the mourners had "left behind" and transform them into centerpieces for the swanky shindig to be held in the evening. I found it morbid. Darla found it a challenge. She had an eye for detail and a knack for floral arrangement. I had no choice but to haul out the vases.
One particular year a very prominent member happened to pass away the week of the tournament. As luck would have it he was dropped in the ground a few hours after lunch. His flowers arrived around three--and they were beauties.
The centerpieces that evening thanks to Darla--breathtaking.
Following the dessert buffet, said prominent member's daughter bellied up to the ice cream station and mentioned to Darla how absolutely beautiful the flower arrangements were and pressed her for info regarding the florist. Clearly over-served, she swayed as she slurred her questioning words.
Now, this lady had never been nice to Darla...and so I'm sure she enjoyed herself as she mentioned the name of the Funeral Home. I looked at her as if she were crazy. She simply smiled and said, "she won't remember any of it tomorrow"...and just to be sure, she headed over to the bar to order her another drink.
And, so with a couple of years of "floral arrangement lessons" under my belt, I looked forward to the next outing. No longer mortified about where the flowers came from, I had some ideas for the following summer.
Fall, Winter and Spring went by and the Summer of 1997 was upon us. And, like every July the Big Kennedy Outing was on the books. Darla, however, was not on the schedule that July. She was in a downtown hospital awaiting a liver transplant.
After we served breakfast and prepared for lunch we joked about who was going to call the funeral home for a "floral carry out" and more importantly who was going to head the "arrangement" detail in Darla's absence. Following lunch service, we each grabbed a quick plate from the buffet before preparing for the dinner hour.
The GM, Mr. Munster, came in the room with his plate (very uncharacteristic of this clown). No need for him to call for our attention--as him taking a seat at our table rendered the room silent enough to hear a pin drop.
Out of habit, the yahoo cleared his throat, and then delivered a sucker punch. With five minutes left before we were expected to return to work he let us know our co-worker had passed away early that morning. He held the news about our friend until now so as not to "interrupt the flow of breakfast and lunch service. P.S. the flowers should be arriving within the hour."
And, so with that we prepared for the rest of the evening. My days at the club were never really the same.
Fourteen years have passed and I still remember the gal with such attention to detail. Tonight as I made her Chicken recipe I swear I could hear her laugh. All these years later I still miss my old friend.
Darla is pictured in the front row above...wearing suspenders...dark shoulder-length hair...and a smile that could light a room.
Just how I will always remember her.
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Filed under: Feel Good Stories