Childhood and Food

I couldn’t sleep so saw a few moments of a show that was telling me chef’s favorite memories of childhood. I’ll do you one better, good and bad. As far as I’m concerned there are taste and sense memories like the smell of chocolate chip cookies in the oven. The smell of cookies and vanilla is a time-tested trick of the real estate agent.

Then there are family memories of dinners together, and then special events like birthdays. Mom’s gone nine years and no-one has her recipe for the birthday cake she made each of us, including herself, every year as we grew. It was a pecan layer cake with two types of chocolate frosting. I believe those were the best days we had with family. Birthday kid got to choose the meal as well. I only remember the cake, and I don’t do dessert because Mom and my sisters were so good at it I had to cook, not bake. My brother is a good cook, too, and he didn’t even go to school for it!

I hated bologna sandwiches. When Mom didn’t have time to make me lunch for school (a bologna sandwich) she would give me tokens, $.35 for a hot lunch at the cafeteria, $.02 for milk. I always had a penny so would pay a cent extra for chocolate milk. They usually had what they called Salisbury steak. Pity that town in England. It was awful.

In high school I ate my first “tater tot!”  Good. Later I got to choose and would have a slice of pizza (just dollars, no tokens any more) and packet of Twinkies. Great diet for an athlete! I’ll bet the Twinkies are still in me, with their incredible shelf life.

In college for breakfast in the caf I ate Cocoa Puffs with chocolate milk. Then I moved to an apartment, cooked real food for everyone and never touched a dish. My roommates were shocked that one could make brownies or a dish from dried pasta that didn’t come from a box. I said I’d cook if they set the table, did dishes before and after dinner, and shopped my grocery list.

Our list of hungry neighbors increased so I was cooking for at least 12 for dinner every evening. Shopping list said 50# bag of potatoes for the week. They brought back cans of potatoes because they were on sale. So much for that. From then on I had the list and the cart and pointed to what I needed.

I never liked rice pudding. Mom made it and I wouldn’t eat it. I think it was a textural thing, combined with rice going with dinner, not dessert. That was as a little kid. Yesterday I made Quiche Lorraine that my husband loved. Also a tart with cooked apples, cinnamon, peaches and blueberries.

I like most things, not octopus, texture. It is a blessing for me to be able to cook for family and friends. Cheers! Dee


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