After living alone for the past 30 years, I have discovered that it is much better being called to dinner than having to cook it myself. Dinner to me is not one of those candlelight and wine things that some folks might have in mind that happens in homes featured in Good Housekeeping. At my house, if it happens at all, it would be somewhere around noon or maybe as late as two. I’m not good at good housekeeping either.

On the other hand, there are times when I don’t have anything to cook or don’t have an urge to. There is never a surprise involved when I do cook as I know what I have and exactly what I paid for it. I go to the grocery stores regularly and hunt diligently for something to cook that I’m experienced in cooking. That doesn’t leave me much of a choice.

I can cook chili, meatloaf, pinto beans, collard greens and fried potatoes. I also cook chicken fettuccini with Alfredo sauce, my low cholesterol dish.

I still spend a lot of my time in stores looking for something edible. I once found something called “country-fried steak.” I bought it since it was already cooked and required only a short time in the oven. I’m still trying to figure out what it was and the country of origin.

It is pretty easy for an old country boy like me to find stuff in stores that nobody would eat. Up to now, I think I have tried all of it. I gave up on frozen foods a long time ago. I have never found anything that was frozen that has any taste when it is unfrozen.

A week or so ago, one of my readers brought me a large sack of poke salat greens which he said he remembered me writing about. I was glad to get them, not having a good mess of poke salat in a long time. There is some controversy over just what a “mess” of anything consists of. When I cook it, there is no doubt.

After washing the greens, I placed them in a pan with some chopped red onion and bacon grease and simmered for about 20 minutes. They brought back a lot of memories and the taste was like I remembered.

My readers are always sending me stuff but not all of what they send is good to eat. I once wrote about taking all the door knobs off our doors to put in the hen’s nest to kill the chicken snakes. We had used up all the artificial eggs designed for this purpose.

The snake would normally swallow an egg whole, and then crush it. The artificial eggs or the doorknobs wouldn’t crush. This caused a problem the Chinese have a name for. They call it “Hung Chow.” It was fatal to chicken snakes.

Shortly after I wrote about this, a lady sent me two white doorknobs and I don’t have a chicken on the place. I wish I did.

Another time, I wrote about a medication Mama insisted I take when I was a kid called “Baby Percy.” This stuff would, no doubt, cure the Chinese disease. The firm that has been making this medication for a hundred years sent me six bottles. It is now called “Percy Medicine.” I guess they changed the name to expand the market. Babies worldwide should be celebrating.

I have always appreciated the stuff my readers occasionally send me and the many suggestions I get about what to write.

I could have used a little help today.

Harry Marlin’s column is featured every Tuesday on the Brownwood Bulletin’s Viewpoint page. E-mail him at