Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Soul Food

My last post and the comments from my sibs on the merits of upside-down hamburger pie just got me thinking about those staple meals from my childhood that I love to remember. There were some I loved and some I hated.

We had a rule that you had to eat dinner with the family, but you didn't have to eat anything you didn't want to. My mom never made special stuff for anyone who didn't like what we were having for dinner that night, but we could get a bowl and eat cereal if that sounded better than whatever she cooked. Or we could make our own sandwich. Or whatever.

Anyway... these are the foods from my childhood that worked for me and didn't:

Loved it
  • Ramen noodles with all the fixin's -- my mom would fry some egg, cut shallots and other vegetables and put together a whole spread to go with the noodles. I've never had as much fun with Ramen on my own.
  • Chili -- mom would make chili on Saturday while we were all up at Bogus Basin skiing. We'd come home and have chili to warm us from the inside out.
  • Homemade Bread -- who could pass this up? When I was young, mom would make a batch of bread dough and make cinnamon rolls and bread from it. It was divine. A loaf would never last more than the day. Whatever was left in the evening, dad would eat as bread and milk for dinner.
  • Tacos -- this one might make you laugh. There was a time when mom put shredded potatoes in the taco meat to make it stretch. She always seasoned it with the Schilling taco seasoning packet and I still love that stuff to this day.
  • Spaghetti -- I think this might be my mom's specialty. I've started her spaghetti more times than I could count, but I never finished it and I still can't make spaghetti taste as good as hers. The secret ingredient was ketchup, but even knowing that isn't enough for me to duplicate it.
  • Fried Chicken and new potatoes -- this is my all-time favorite home meal. It's the meal to eat in August when the potatoes are ready from the garden. After making the chicken, mom would make gravy from the drippings. YUM! We might have corn on the cob too, just to make it the most amazing dinner on the planet.

Hated it
  • Upside-down hamburger pie -- I think the recipe came either from the bisquick box or the Campbell's tomato soup label. The meat is seasoned with onion and tomato soup and then you put it in a pie dish and put a layer of bisqick dough on top and then bake it. I just thought it was horrible. As you can see from my previousl post, however, the family is quite divided on this topic.
  • Potato soup -- I didn't actually hate it, but dad likes his clam chowder without the clams and with no thickening. Basically, it's the same recipe as clam chowder with bacon and potatoes, but no clams. I always wished we could have it thickened up instead of milky. Mom liked to make what dad liked though. I'm actually supportive of that position now though.
  • Grandma Deschamps' dinner contributions -- my family will totally laugh about this. When Grandma came to visit she always thought we should eat more vegetables. My favorite horror food was when she made vegetable soup and then put it through the blender thinking we would be more likely to eat it if we couldn't identify any of the vegetables. It was horrible.
  • Steak -- this is something I only hated at home. We didn't get steak very often, but it was usually a pretty thin cut and my dad like his well done. As a result, we all got ours well done. I thought I didn't like steak until I was in high school and had my first medium rare steak. Now I love the stuff.
  • Fish sticks -- I think we only ate these when mom and dad were going out for dinner on their own. I may have liked them at the time, but now I really don't like fish sticks.

In the end, what I really loved about dinner growing up was that we always ate dinner together as a family. I have fond memories of spilling milk, and then spilling more, having dad make a rule about no singing at the dinner table, and sharing the highlight of our day. It fed the sould then and I still look forward to dinner with the whole family now.


My Ice Cream Diary said...

Ahhh, the lovely memories that dinner can create. My family loves to recount past dinners and the silly things that went on. We LOVED any kind of prepared frozen food (like fish sticks) but we were only allowed so much (like 3 fish sticks each). So, after my older sisters had wolfed theirs down they would say "Garbage Disposal, Garbage Disposal, who wants to throw their food in the garbage disposal?" Then they would go around to the smaller kids with their mouths open, trying to get them to give up their fish sticks. For some reason the garbage disposals didn't take green beans. (Obviously this was my parents date night dinner as well or my sisters never would have gotten away with such behavior)

PJMcD said...

I used to fry the noodles after I boiled them. I'd chop up 5 or 6 cloves of garlic,add the sodium bomb flavor pax heat up the sesame oil and cook 'em until the noodles got crunchy golden.Yum yum white trash fine dining for under 2 bux.

At my house it was eat it or wear it. Once my older brother rubbed green lima beans in my hair cuz I wouldn't eat them. Green lima beans works like Dippity Doo.
Also due to our large family some parent thought it would be great to mix a gallon of milk with a gallon of powdered milk.ICK.Any number of times I nearly choked to death on a dry milk nugget, but the worst was boiled swiss chard, the Swiss must be a bunch of brutes to lend their name to that glicky,snotty, grodie kid gaggin' slime. Superman had kryptonite, I have chard.It makes me sick to think about it.In fact I just threw up a little,in my mouth.

annzy said...

I loved the ramen meal and bread and milk ~ummm.