Much of the time when I was growing up I lived five minutes or less walking time from my grandparents’ home. Consequently, I spent a lot of time at their house; and I had a lot of meals with them.
Since my grandparents usually ate their big meal of the day at mid-day, and at our house noon time was lunch time and the evening meal was served when my father got home from work – usually around 7 p.m. – sometimes I had two big meals in one day.
I think that I realized that my mother and my grandmother were both “good cooks,” but that they were different kinds of cooks. Grandma lived on a farm for many years and was accustomed to cooking and eating a hearty meat and potatoes meal at noon time every day.
My mother certainly knew her way around her kitchen, but she was quite relaxed when it came to preparing a meal. There were times when, around 5 o’clock she would realize that we needed ingredients for dinner – maybe meat, and, yes, a loaf of bread, too. So, a trip down to the corner to Steve’s store was in order for one of us, and in less than two hours, like a little bit of magic, a delicious meal was served.
I think convenience dinners and complete meals in one small box were invented especially for my mother. She could do wonders with a pound of hamburger in a very short time. There were differences in the menus that my mother and grandmother served.
At my mother’s house we didn’t have steak as in steak medium rare. Mom didn’t care for steak, and fathers didn’t do a lot of cooking outside on a grill back then. My mother made a dish with chuck steak, well done with lots of sauce and potatoes
My grandparents had steak for dinner at least once a week. Grandma fried it in a “spider” (it was a frying pan) on top of the stove.
In the spring, Grandma would go to a nearby field and gather dandelion greens. She and my grandfather would savor a large bowl of the cooked greens. My mother, with her nose turned up high, would suggest that Grandma and Grandpa ate weeds for dinner.
My mother cooked with a lot of ground beef, and made things like goulash, Spanish rice and sloppy Joes. She made macaroni and cheese and scalloped potatoes, often combined with ham left over from Sunday’s dinner. Hotdogs were a favorite for Saturday lunch and when my best friend Tucker and I got older we cooked our own, along with a can of pork and beans, which actually had a hunk of pork in them in those days.
Another thing my mother made she called “pigs in a blanket.” The “pig” was a hot dog, the blanket a strip of bacon. The “pig” was split in half without cutting it all the way through, and was filled with strips of cheese and wrapped with bacon and put under the broiler.
My mother planned a big meal for mid-day Sunday – a roast and all the trimmings, and we often ate in the dining room. Sometimes she fixed a “boiled dinner” – ham, potatoes, carrots, cabbage and onions. I can’t remember having corned beef, even on St. Patrick’s Day. Monday was leftovers day. Hash was popular.
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