Monday, January 18, 2010

She Ain't No Julia Child-Memoir Monday

See Travis for more memories!
Our mom is a writer, not a cook. She never wanted to be a cook. She wanted to be a foreign correspondent. With six children, however, there was a necessity to make food. Mountains of food. Foreign corresponding was out of the question.

Mom made dinners that could be made in bulk, like spaghetti, tuna casserole, chili and macaroni and cheese. Thank goodness these items didn't come in a box back then. Tuna Helper;{shudder}
(Many years later, she was taking care of her grandson, Rob, and she made him some "Mackie-Cheese" in a box and she used water in the cheese powder instead of milk and Rob still talks about the vivid orange macaroni he had that day.)

Another item we had at least once a week was something we called Dog Food or Gravy Train. It was some sort of meat matter in a gravy component. She ladled this material upon toast. Thankfully this recipe has disappeared and can now only be found in the Smithsonian. We also had a cheese sauce served in the same manner now and then.

Dinty Moore Beef stew was a staple in our household. It came in large family-size cans. It was one of my first "recipes." Other canned delights were hash, which she sliced and fried in her big iron skillet, and of course those Chung King dinners with the slimy stuff in one can, the chicken stuff in another and the crunchy stuff in a third.

We LOVED frozen chicken pies. Frozen foods were a rarity back then but there were chicken pies available. We always had them when Dad went out of town on business.
He didn't tolerate frozen foods. Our father was a "foodie" before there was such a thing. It took him a long time to accept new-fangled things.

Porcupine balls was one of our favorite dishes. We liked it when she made these because they were so much fun to talk about, as well as eat. They were meatballs with rice in them. I'm sure there were more ingredients. I shall ask Mama. Perhaps I'll make them when everyone comes to visit.

Mom had this recipe that she found in a magazine for something we called Barf Salad. As I recall it was green Jello with cottage cheese and grated cabbage in it with just enough shredded carrots to add that "already been chewed" look to it. This was her special recipe that she made for all holidays. I can just hear the people at the Ladies' Home Journal Recipe Center saying, "Lets make it green Jello because it will look more like a regurgitated substance."

Drunk meat came along in the later years. It involved a crock pot, a beef brisket, a can of beer and a couple of other ingredients. It was good, but like I said, I missed out on it as a child because of the crock pot part. They weren't invented yet. However, she did have something called a pressure cooker. It was a huge scary sounding device. She always admonished us to keep way back from it. It would clack and hiss and we would look at it with our eyes wide with fear. She used it a lot. She got one for me after I was married and I immediately blew a hole in my ceiling. I recall that the item I was cooking in it coated the sides of the pan completely, with nothing in the middle. It became an ordinary pan after that.

Mom's birthday cakes were legendary. By her own admission they looked like first base after nine innings. Always. They were good though. She rarely made desserts , but when someone came out with a box of envelopes full of stuff that could be turned into a Boston Cream Pie, we had those sometimes.

Mom, my sister, and I were together recently and we talked her into making us a Boston Cream Pie for old time's sake. We had to do some talking! We whined, "You haven't made us one for forty years!"
We got the box.

I wish you could have heard the pie-making process! “How long do I have to stir it? It doesn't say what degrees to ..oh, here it is. You have to let it cool on a wire rack. What is this ‘wire rack’? Cut it in half? Sideways? I forgot how hard it is to cut it into two ...oops one of the parts broke. Another bowl for the inside goo? Good grief. You have to put this little bag of chocolate into hot water for 15 minutes; hot water? How hot? Do I have to boil water for this chocolate or can I just hold it under the faucet? They ought to give clear directions on the box.
OK, here's your damn cake. You can’t cut it for three and a half more minutes."

She says she’s not making us another one of those cakes for forty more years.


MaryRC said...

those make for some interesting recipes. i grew up on poor food. macaroni with tomato sauce, tortillas home made, fried potatoes with cheese.. all so yum!

mama-face said...

I grew up on the same food. Did you ever enjoy the culinary masterpiece Spaghettios with hamburger? gah.

Isn't that pie like the most killer type to make? "Here's you damn cake" hahaha

Anonymous said...

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Blondie's Journal said...

Oh, had me cracking up again. You have the funnest childhood memories!! I remember some of the meals and I suppose they were made widely popular by Ladies Home Journal and word of mouth. Funny, our mother's thought they had just come up with sliced cheese when they made these dinners and if you dared say it was good, they made it over and over and over!!

Fabulous post!! LOL funny!! :-)


Lori E said...

My mom was a great cook and baker but then again she was also at home. I can't imagine making food for 6-8 people every day. Exhausting.

Keetha Broyles said...

Hey - - - I had four kids. "Bulk" cooking, as you call it, was the ONLY way to survive!!! I used to say I was the casserole queen.

Now I'm the fast food and frozen dinner queen. Got a frozen dinner in the micro as we speak!!!

I think I LOVE those porcupine meatballs. I believe I made those for my kids once.

Nancy said...

I remember that cake! I use to love it when my mother made one. Don't hate me, I make it from scratch now. Or would if I could ever have dessert again.

Joanne said...

Your diet sounds like mine growing up and there was only myself and one brother. My mom wasn't a great daily cook but my goodness when she put on a dinner party - to this day I am NOT worthy.

I had to laugh about the baking - my mom will LOVE your description of your mom's cakes. Actually I will hold on to this story for my own blog - I will link back to yours this was great!!!

Suzy said...

Gotta know what's in the porcupine balls recipe.

My mom was a fabulous cook but that backfired on me and my sister. We're used to great food but neither of us can do as well as mom. So we don't.

Suzy said...

Oh yeah, great post by the way!

cookinglady said...

Great Post coming from Friday Follow

Anonymous said...