Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Food Memories

Food is so much more than fuel. Its tastes and smells can instantly transport us to another time and place. I remember a fourth of July when I was four. It was in California and we had just lit a firework that was nailed to the neighbor’s fence. It spun in a shiny kaleidoscope of colors as I sat on the cement steps by the pool. Someone sat by me churning homemade ice cream in a big hand crank machine. I don’t even remember the flavor of the ice cream but I do remember picking up the big crystals of rock salt and sucking on them as I watched the fireworks reflect in the water of the swimming pool. Even now when I see rock salt on the cement after a big snow, I remember that time so many years ago.

Growing up we always had a garden. In the summer months we were sure to find something that Dad grew, sitting on our dinner plate in the evenings. Unfortunately, lots of it was things I’d rather not see staring back at me; Swiss chard for one. Honestly, I have no idea what true Swiss chard tastes like. The only flavor I can remember is the one I created when I shoved a forkful of the slimy green stuff in my mouth, poured milk in there on top of it and then plugged my nose and swallowed. I can taste that flavor every time I see something leafy green growing in my own garden.

I remember the time I ran out of milk when I was making pancakes. I figured if I can use yogurt as a substitute, why not mayonnaise? Now every time I add a jar of mayo to my grocery cart the kids laughingly remind me of the mayonnaise pancakes that I once tried to poison them with. I remember Mom’s homemade meatloaf and the mysterious sweet sauce she put on top that would turn into sweet crunchy pieces around the edges that we would all hurry to eat before someone else got to them.
There are so many memories wrapped up in the foods we eat as a family. So from my family to yours, here are a few recipes that evoke some of the better memories I have. And I won’t be including the one for Mayonnaise Pancakes...your welcome.

Mom’s Meatloaf with Sweet Sauce
  • 2 slices of bread cubed 
  • ¼ cup milk 
  • 1 egg 
  • 1 lb. ground beef 
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped onion 
  • 1/8 cup finely chopped celery 
  • ½ tablespoon Worcestershire sauce 
  • ¾ teaspoon salt Dash of pepper 
  • ¼ teaspoon poultry seasoning 
  • ½ cup ketchup 
  • 4 tablespoons molasses 
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Soak bread in milk. Add eggs and mix. Add meat, onion, celery, Worcestershire, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Mix thoroughly and form into a free form loaf in a glass casserole dish. Bake uncovered for one hour. Mix ketchup and molasses and spread over loaf. Bake for an additional 15 minutes. Slice and serve.
French Silk Pie (As a teenager I worked at a local Deli with all my high school friends. It was the most fun I’ve ever had at a job and this was our favorite thing to eat there)

• 1 8 inch graham cracker pie crust
• 1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 
• 3/4 cup sugar
• 2 ounces unsweetened chocolate squares
• 1 teaspoon vanilla
• 2 eggs
• Fresh Whipped Cream
• 1 Plain Hershey Bar
 In microwave, melt chocolate, set aside to cool. In medium bowl, cream butter, gradually add sugar, cream well. Mix in melted, cooled chocolate and vanilla. Add eggs 1 at a time, beating 5 minutes each, and scraping sides of bowl often to incorporate all sugar. (Beat until no longer any grains of sugar). Spoon and smooth into pie crust. Chill until set, about 1 hour. Pile high with fresh whipped cream and top with shavings from the Hershey Bar.

Babysitter Cookies My next door neighbor was an older girl that would sometimes babysit me. She always kept me entertained one of two ways. Either we would take a roll of quarters, drive to the nearby grocery store and play Ms. Pacman for hours or we’d make these amazing cookies that came out different every time but were always so good.

• 1/2 cup butter
• 1/2 cup shortening
• 1 cup granulated sugar
• 1 cup brown sugar
• 2 eggs
• 1 tablespoon vanilla
• 1 teaspoon baking powder
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 2 cups flour
• 1 cup oatmeal
• 1 cup cereal (corn flakes, rice krispies…whatever you have on hand)
• 1/2 cup coconut(optional)
• 1/2 cup raisins(optional)
• 1/2 cup nuts (optional)
• 1/2 cup chocolate chips(optional)
• 1/2 cup peanut butter(optional)

Melt together the butter and shortening. Add sugars and cream thoroughly. Add eggs, vanilla, baking powder, baking soda, flour, oatmeal, cereal (corn flakes, grape nuts, cocoa puffs -- whatever you have) and mix well. Stir in any or all of the optional ingredients. Drop by rounded tablespoons onto lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake at 350°F for 10-12 minutes.


Lyndsay Wells said...

I loved this! I want to try your mom's meatloaf recipe and laughed over the mayo pancakes! I once had a rather unfortunate experience involving mayonnaise and sesame oil as a homemade hair product. Not. Good. Ha ha ha!

Anonymous said...

I, too, have garden memories. My dad had a huge garden that took up most of our backyard. He grew tomatoes, green beans, onions, leaf lettuce, radishes, beets, cucumbers, kale, swiss chard, and my least favorite: okra! I was and am a pretty adventurous eater, but okra I could not stomach. It was slimey! Your post reminded me of the smell of my dad's garden. I will always associate the smell of sun-warmed tomatoes with my dad. -Monica

Kathy Granlund said...

Dear Gayle:

We still usually celebrate July 4 with homemade icecream. We live on the other side of the tracks from the Country Club. This year we will have a potluck feast, icecream, play "Catch Phrase" then walk the two blocks and sit on the brick fence and watch the fireworks from the Country CLub.

I always miss the Durlings, especially around the holidays.

I very much enjoyed your blog. And I too have always LOVED your moms meatloaf.

Love, Kathy G.