Sue's frog meditating in our neighbor's fish pond
Sue’s frog meditating in our neighbor’s fish pond

My sister, Ann, stopped by over the weekend and we had dinner out on the deck. She is back to work, behind the jewelry counter at Parkleigh. We tried to keep our distance but I think she might have forgotten that we are in a pandemic a few times, like when she leaned in to show us a picture on her phone. Somehow we came around to the types of meals we had when we were kids.

Even though my grandfather was a butcher there was very little meat on the menu. Maybe because there were nine of us counting my parents. Tuna melts were one of my mom’s go to’s. Warm and creamy served over Pepperidge Farm toast. We had Spaghetti from a can, Chef Boyardee until Ragu came along, with the pasta all swollen and soggy. Rice A Roni, the San Francisco treat, was in regular rotation. There might have been some chicken pieces in that. Seems like we had Sloppy Joes once a week. The spices came out of a French’s foil pouch which was mixed with loose hamburger and served over a toasted roll. We loved this stuff!

We ate a lot of steamers, boiled skinny red hot dogs. At least once a week. We ate canned corn, peas and mixed vegetables. Occasionally my father would give my mom a break and make what he called “Mickey Mouse sandwiches.” Little cubes of ham were stirred in with scrambled eggs and served with ketchup. For some reason my father always cut the crust off the bread, all four sides.

There were some clunkers. Chicken Pot Pies were a regular but invariably gave me indigestion. I think it may have been the lard in the pie crust or maybe it was the chicken. Every other week or so we would have Salisbury steaks, one notch above hamburgers, pounded flat with a hammer that left a pattern of upside down pyramids in the meat. I would often put the piece in a napkin and feed it to the neighborhood dog. Of course Motts applesauce was served with that.

My mom’s cookies and raspberry tarts were out of this world. Desert was always a hit.


5 Replies to “Namaste”

  1. We had many of those same dinners, maybe even on the same nites. I was so revulsed by that slimy La Choy canned Chinese stuff, that in college when friends would suggest going to a Chinese restaurant I would groan ‘anything but that’. Now, its a main part of my diet.

  2. I’m with Duane on this. It was a revelation when I started cooking with fresh stuff as a teenager. My mother didn’t care about cooking but she was a great baker. Different days!

  3. We had four children quite close in age and half a fridge stacked with fresh red meat every week. Steak, veges, potatoes; we did all right for dinners. Mum fell down on the lunches though, lol. Vegemite with one slice of lettuce between wheat bread. Or a jam sandwich. Or a banana sandwich. Coming to America in 77 was fantastic — hot lunches every day in a cafeteria – Sloppy Joes, Chicken a la King, Grilled Cheese, cookies, ice cream sandwiches. From public school to private, we knew we had hit the jackpot.

  4. I’m commenting here to pass on the comments my sister, Ann, had in a follow-up conversation. She read this post and called to say she remembered the swollen spaghetti from the can but when the family got a little larger my my mom switched to a combination of a box of Mueller’s pasta (how’s that for an Italian name?)(my father always used a long “I” for the first “i” in Italian), a seasoning packet (maybe French’s) and small can of tomato paste.

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