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Obsolete Childhood Food Memories?

When I was little, I remeber going squid fishing at night with my uncles and cousins. We'd bring a little cutting board, some shredded daikon and some spicy korean sashimi sauce (chojang). They'd catch them two or three at a time and my cousin would quickly clean the squid, slice it up and we'd be eating it while it was still moving. So fresh, but I haven't had that experience in years. Maybe because the danger of raw seafood, but I really miss it.

Do you all have any childhood food memories that are tough to recreate nowadays?

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  1. When I was about 8 years old my Dad used to buy a Cow's head (Cabeza as they call it) in East LA, bring it home and cook it in the oven. It used to gross the heck out of my older brothers but for some reason nothing was better than sitting down at the kitchen table with 'ma pops' and having a go at the Cabeza. It was my first real male bonding experience. The cheek meat was especially tender and succulent. My Dad used to like to eat the eyeballs but I never mustered the courage to do that. Even though Cabeza isn't anything special I think the experience and the memory of eating with my Dad is what makes it so special.

    1. When I was about eight years old, we lived in an apartment on Judson in Evanston, Illinois for about 10 months while my Dad took special training after he completed his college degree.

      We had neighbors who would go to the fish market about once a month and bring home huge quantities of seafood and they'd fix it and sit on the big wooden back porch to eat it. They always invited us to join in.

      It was my first exposure to rock lobster, scallops, king crab legs, clams, squid, and oysters and there was always plenty of spiced boiled shrimp, too.

      My 82-year-old Mom and I were reminscing about this over the recent holiday. She adored the raw oysters and it was fun to watch the man shuck them by the bucketful. Brought back pleasant memories. :)

      Whenever I fix a mess o'seafood, I think of that early introduction to it and attribute those times for my passion for and appreciation of fresh seafood.

      1. In Savannah as a kid I had a neighbor whose father and grandfather would go down to the river and gather up oysters. It seemed like wheelbarrows ful. They had a big BBQ built in their back yard. I had a big piece of sheet iron over it. They'd get a roaring fire going and then would pile on the oysters and cover them with wet burlap bags and roast them until they popped open. We'd wolf them down with if IRC catsup and butter.

        1. We used to go canoeing, trout fishing and camping on the Spring River in Arkansas. Pan-fried trout right out of the river was some of the best fish I've ever had. And there's something about bacon cooked over a campfire for breakfast that is just sublime.

          1. When I was 3-4 years old, my grandfather (best man in the whole world) would take us fishing for bullheads. This was in Algona, Iowa and I don't remember what lake we would have gone to. They were dusted with flour and panfried. They would definitely not have tasted as good if caught and fried by anyone else though and I haven't had them since.

            Later in Ft. Myers, FL he made the best shrimp I've ever had. Absolutely fresh shrimp, of course, and deepfried in a very light batter, what I later learned was an extremely light tempura. Another Ft. Myers Beach memory -- watching the neighbor who had Stefanich's restaurant on San Carlos Island sitting outside shucking oysters. Mmmm.

            Good topic, soypower!

            9 Replies
            1. re: mickie44

              mickie44 - Your reminscence about your grandfather was lovely. I have fond memories of my Grandpa, too, a true fisherman and hunter. Don't think Grandma ever served any meat or fish that wasn't the product of Grandpa or the seven boys' work in the fields and streams.

              While I loved to eat venison, quail, pheasant, dove, squirrel, rabbit, and all sorts of fish at their home, I most loved the wonderful turtle Grandpa caught along the shores of the Wapsi River (Wapsipinnicon) in northeast Iowa.

              Oh, I'd give nearly anything to taste that again, just and Grandma fixed it -- lightly dredged in flour and pan-fried.

              1. re: KCJ

                KCJ - You mention quail which I have never eaten. I now live in the Okanagan Valley of British Columbia where California Quail abound. After trying to grow a respectable veg garden the first year here and competing with the quail, I have decided I'm a bird lover more than a veg gardener and will buy better vegs anyway at the many farmer's markets in the area. Mario, my neighbour who has an admirable garden, says he shoots the quail with a BB gun. I was appalled. Now from a distance I can ask, what quail dishes do you remember from your childhood?

                1. re: mickie44

                  The quail my grandfather and uncles hunted in northeast Iowa was northern bobwhites.

                  Grandma wasn't a fancy cook. Actually, she probably would have scoffed at an inquiry about what "quail dishes" she prepared. To her, all meat except roasts, ground meat, turkey, and steaks was lightly dredged in all-purpose flour and pan-fried (usually with reserved bacon fat, sometimes with solid Crisco), seasoned only with salt and pepper. Never the least bit greasy, never a thick fried coat like you'd get from deep frying. I never recall her ever deep frying anything at all.

                  She prepared fish fillets and turtle the same way -- dredged in flour, pan-fried.

                  What are your quail like in BC? Are they chukars like I know from Idaho and Utah? Or are they some other variety of quail?

                  1. re: KCJ

                    The quail in BC are California Quail. There's an article on Wikipedia with a photo. I find them too appealing to consider them a food but will check with Mario for cooking methods if I get hungry. We also get pheasants visiting in our back yard. I remember my family hunting those in Iowa.

                2. re: KCJ

                  I don't think I've had turtle itself. But eggs? Yes.

                  On the beautiful sandy white beaches of Terengganu where we vacationed, the water was crystal clear, and guess who came to lay eggs ashore just before dawn.

                  I hope I wasn't eating the eggs of these majestic leatherback sea turtles, but eggs were commercially available in Malaysia. They were yummy, but I hope they are no longer legal.

                3. re: mickie44

                  LOL I wish my grandfather had your grandfather's recipe. Whenever I caught a bullhead, he made me throw it back. I could have been the most prolific fisherman if I'd been allowed to keep those babies!

                  1. re: luv2bake

                    My grandpa threw bullheads back, too. Channel cat is a different matter, but he preferred bass.

                  2. re: mickie44

                    Mickie, did you grow up in Algona area?

                    1. re: jwagnerdsm

                      jwagnerdsm, my grandparents lived there and I lived with them until I was 4 (the year 1948 would help for context). Grandpa was the local optometrist. Are you from Algona?

                  3. Snow Ice Cream. We used to add sugar and evaporated milk to snow and make "ice cream". Well, now I live on the coast of NC and I don't see snow anymore. So snow ice cream is pretty hard to come by around these parts.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: Andiereid

                      Same problem here in Tennessee. Not much snow anymore, but that creamy mix tasted soooo good! I'm not sure if I would trust the snow's purity now, either. It was easy to avoid the yellow stuff, but pollutants are hare to see.

                    2. Largemouth bass caught out of the lake by my grandpa, cleaned and soaked overnight in salt water, then dredged in cornmeal and fried in the electric skillet.

                      Accompaniments were fried potatoes and a relish made by mixing together chopped onions and chopped dill pickles.

                      Papa died last spring at 91, and probably hadn't done much fishing in the last five years before that.

                      1. While summering on Fire Island off of Long Island, NY, my dad and us kids would go clamming right in front of our beachouse for hours at a time. We would get so many that the clams would weigh us down on our trek back to shore. We would eat on the half shell, make chowders and clam sauce.

                        Nowadays we head to the fish market when we need a fix.

                        1. When I was quite young my dad arranged a father-son fishing trip with my brother, and I was really offended; I wanted to go! He was surprised and happy to know his daughter was interested in fishing, and brought me along.

                          I ended up catching the most fish, and was extremely anxious to eat everybody's catch. My brother wanted nothing to do with the cleaning, so I dug in and scaled/gutted them all. Those dinky pan fish grilled over a fire were the best thing I had ever tasted.

                          1. I used to love eating vegetables right out of my grandfather's garden. He encouraged us to pick beans and peas for a raw snack any time (and was very patient with clumsy little fingers) and would dig carrots and wash them in the hose for us. Once he cut us each a whole head of lettuce, and the two of us munched away on salad (I don't know what everyone else was eating, but I sure felt special eating a whole head of lettuce with my granddad, and remember it very clearly 50 years later.) Spinach, beets, turnips-- everything is the best ever if it comes out of your granddad's garden.

                            (My grandmother on the other side of the family also had a garden, but my clearest memory of that is very different. She never had indoor plumbing, so on the way to the smelly outhouse, I would grab a little handful of fresh dill (conveniently growing near the outhouse door) and hold it over my nose... This is actually a pleasant memory too.)

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: Anne H

                              Yeah, my memories are fresh vegetables from my mom's garden. Broccoli I have never tasted any as sweet and crunchy since. It brings tears to my eyes remembering the broccoli, asparagus, kohlrabi, tomatoes, zucchini, pattypan squash. We'd eat them right there, rubbing off the fuzz with our fingers and washing them with the garden hose.

                              1. re: amyzan

                                The big thing we get from my folks' garden is okra. She always cooked it dredged in cornmeal, lots of oil in a hot skillet. She sent some home with me awhile back, and I cooked it, but couldn't make it edible.

                                1. re: revsharkie

                                  I find it's hard to get much meal to stick to freshly sliced okra. I've had better luck, believe it or not, thawing frozen sliced okra, and then dredging it. It's plenty gooey by the time it thaws, and bread nicely without any batter. With the fresh, you might experiment with battering, then dredging, but I'd stay away from eggs in the batter--too much puff.

                                  Strangely enough, I've also used Malt-O-Meal quite successfully to dredge okra. It's already toasted, and it makes super crunchy fried okra. You don't even need much oil with the M-O-M. A tablespoon will easily fry a pound or more.

                                  My grandma always grew okra, and she fried it like you mention. Unfortunately, she usually burned it. I like fresh okra sauteed with corn fresh off the cob, zucchini, and tomatoes. Yum, I wish grandma'd done that! I would've started eating it sooner!

                                  1. re: amyzan

                                    My mom often burns hers, too. That's my sister's favorite way to eat it! (Odd, since my sister is one of the pickiest eaters I know.)

                                    1. re: amyzan

                                      Sometime for kicks, try dredging okra in all-purpose white flour - nothing else. Add a little sea salt after it's fried. It's best to have fresh okra, rinsed off, air-dried and up to room temperature to start with. If I had Malt-O-Meal around, I would try that! Maybe wheat germ might work . . .

                              2. Aren't grandparents wonderful? I just remembered our huge farm garden and our Dalmatian who had a taste for strawberries. Seems I'm always fighting someone for the ripe berries -- Dalmatians, quail, husbands. It's always something.

                                1. My grandmother would make fideo that I've never been able to recreate. She'd dry-toast regular spaghetti in an ancient cast iron pan to the point that sometimes the spaghetti would be charred on the ends. The "soupy" part--peeled tomatoes from the garden, garlic, and comino (cumin seed)--she'd grind up by hand in a molcajete. I remember it being not as soupy as my other grandmother's version; more dry actually, almost like a casserole than a soup. And it was always topped with big melted orange squares of government cheese! Somehow it just isn't the same without it! ;-)

                                  1. When I was around 3 or 4, I remember being woken up in the middle of the night by the doorbell. It was a bunch of my father's friends who just came back from fishing or something (probably up the coast from LA). Either way, they brought in a burlap bag full of uni (sea urchin). They were all out in the backyard cutting a hole in the uni, and spooning it out and eating (with a little pour of soy sauce, and maybe some lemon from the tree outside). Out of curiosity I went out to see what the commotion was, and I was offered some uni. I loved it. I think I must have finished a couple uni myself. I haven't been the same since.

                                    1 Reply
                                    1. Another grandfather story just came to mind. When I was under 5 years old, he and I would have a bedtime snack of limburger cheese, crackers, and tea. This food memory though can definitely be recreated, much to the dismay of friends and family.

                                      1. One of my Dad's favorite treats was to crumple up saltines in a coffee cup (no mugs in those days) and pour milk over it, then eat it with a spoon. He'd have it in the middle of the afternoon sometimes but mostly shortly before he went to bed at night. He loved it.

                                        1. Two memories come to mind.

                                          The first are my grandmother's homemade, hand-cut spaetzle. She would cut the fluffy, irregularly-shaped egg noodles in lengths of about 2". Each noodle had its own pattern of bumps, ridges, and hollows and was perfectly tender to chew. They were made to hold sauces and gravies. Packaged pre-formed spaetzle, extruded noodles, and even the rare hand-cut restaurant versions just don't come close.

                                          The second are the fried smelt that my parents and I would eat on the Oregon coast during the smelt runs in the spring. All I remember were little crunchy whole fish - almost like fish flavored french fries. I can't remember if the fish still had heads on or were even gutted. But as a kid I loved the flavor and loved that I didn't have to worry about little fishy bones.


                                          1 Reply
                                          1. re: Ed Dibble

                                            We always beheaded and gutted those smelt before pan-frying. And with the side of a fork, lifted each cooked fillet off the bones before eating. Can't imagine doing it any other way.

                                          2. Excellent stories all. When my older siblings reached high school, my parents would load us all in the car to visit potential colleges in Upstate New York and New England on Fall weekends. On the way home, we would stop at roadside farm stands and load up on squash -- acorn, butternut, and of course, the monster Blue Hubbard, along with all the other wild varieties that seemed to show up. At home, my Dad would display them on the fireplace hearth in our den, and my Mom would gradually cook them throughout the Fall. The Blue Hubbard was usually the last since it was the most formidable in size. Mom isn't much of a cook (and recognizes this fact with a smile) but just a little bit of oil or butter and then baking would make these squash taste good enough for us.

                                            1. When I was growing up my mom didn't really make good spaghetti sauce (she does now), so I learned how and that became my main specialty.

                                              At one point when I was in junior high or high school, my mom was taking a class at one of the local community colleges every Tuesday night. So Tuesday nights I'd cook supper (usually spaghetti) for my dad and sister and me. We'd sit at the table and talk, which wasn't something we usually did. It was pretty cool. If I had something on my mind, we'd talk it through. We'd talk about the cafeteria or the Dale Carnegie course he was in. Lots of stuff.

                                              A few years ago I had a little conflict of priorities that I needed to figure out (no big deal, just a little source of anxiety for a day or two), and that night I dreamed that I was sitting at the table talking it through with my dad over spaghetti, and what he told me he thought I should do was what I ended up doing, and it was the right thing.

                                              1. I remember hanging out with my Uncle Joe when I was probably 7-8 years old. We used to sit on the porch during the summer and he would reach into his back pocket and bring out a dried abalone, take his pocket knife out and shave off a piece for me and him to chew on. I would chew that piece for it seemed hours, it tasted so good. He had beautiful abalone shells bordering his garden. I don't know what we talked about, but we spent many hours on his porch chewing dried abalone. Cost prohibitive, now. I miss my Uncle Joe.

                                                4 Replies
                                                1. re: mochi mochi

                                                  oh abalone! that is something i really miss...we've lived on the washington coast for about 30 years and when we first came here, there was plenty of huge abalones for the picking...now it seems we can only come by those midget sized ones that have been frozen and cost more than my car payment...

                                                  1. re: soypower

                                                    Or the canned ones which are probably conch. Not the same as abalone.

                                                    1. re: soypower

                                                      Yeah, when I was a real little kid, I can remember going to Avila Beach in California and basically wading into the water to get abalone. From what I've read since, the environmental protections for seals and sea lions became so strong, abalone was basically eaten out of existence by those (inedible) creatures.

                                                      I'll always remember my dad "tenderizing" the abalone by hitting it with a baseball bat in the backyard.

                                                      God it was delicious.

                                                      1. re: Bostonbob3

                                                        Glad to hear it was the seals and sea lions and not us Koreans like my dad kept saying. :o)

                                                  2. The post about driving and finding roadside stands reminded me of a couple favorite childhood treats that I would love to have again.

                                                    I grew up near Amish country, and although my mother was/is an excellent cook, she would often get up early on a Saturday and drive to the country and pick up the most incredible cookies from an Amish lady. She had a little building at the end of her driveway, and she sold cookies & pies (and I think maybe other things, some preserves, jam, etc.?) there. She made the BEST cookies in the world. Sugar cookies to die for, and as a kid, sugar cookies were boring. They didn't have sprinkles or chocolate chips or any of that exciting stuff! But hers were spectacular. Also peanut butter cookies, oatmeal, and probably others. Those are the ones I remember. I've told my husband about them many times, and I've purchased a bunch of Amish cookbooks in the hopes that one day, one of the recipes will be hers (or darn close)!

                                                    Another childhood favorite - fresh apple cider & doughnuts. We used to go apple picking every year. All the orchards where we picked had some kind of setup where they made fresh cider, and you could buy it there. And one of them had doughnuts, too. So we'd pick and pick (smelling those wonderful apples the whole time, the crisp air, man, I love apple picking), and then we'd be finished and go to purchase all our bushels. We'd get a cup of the cider and some doughnuts to eat there, and mom & daddy always bought a couple gallons of cider to go.

                                                    Nothing at the store can touch that fresh cider. The closest is what you can get in the refrigerator section. (The processed stuff in jars is just ick in comparison.)

                                                    A funny apple cider story. My brother & I were at the kitchen table, and the cider tasted nasty. I told my mom it was gross. I guess she thought we were just tired of it, and she told us to drink it. We were disgusted. We finally must have gotten through to her because she got it out of the fridge and smelled it -- it had fermented. hahahaha Two innocent kids being forced into drunkenness by their mom. :)

                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: luv2bake

                                                      Don't suppose that would have been anywhere near as good as properly made hard cider...

                                                      A friend of mine and I once made a batch of hard cider from apples from my mom's yard. He actually built a cider press for the adventure. But we had a falling out before the cider was ready, so I don't know if it was any good. Probably not, since we only used one kind of apple, and I understand that you need more than one for decent cider...

                                                    2. My favorite food memory has got to be going berry picking every summer in the fields and woods behind my house. I would wear my big brother's army jacket to protect my arms and head out for the whole day. I'd usually come back with about a gallon of mixed blackberries and raspberries. This is also how I learned to make my own pie crust since we had to do SOMETHING with all those berries.

                                                      Another good one (also berry related) is when my very stuffy aunt stopped at a roadside custard stand with my sister and I (which was an event to begin with) and my sister and I found a giant mulberry tree covered in ripe fruit behind the stand. When my aunt came around the corner and saw the two of us stuffing our faces with berries she nearly had a heart attack until I explained that they were mulberries and definately edible. Although since I was about 8 years old, she didn't really believe me and kept asking us if we felt ok for the rest of the day. What a riot.

                                                      3 Replies
                                                      1. re: wawajb

                                                        Your reminscence of berries brought back a pleasant memory for me, too.

                                                        When I was about nine years old, we lived on a cul-de-sac for two years. Our neighbors, Joe and Mary Barrymore, had luscious blackberry bushes as a hedge across most of their back yard. We had permission to pick all the blackberries we wants.

                                                        On summer mornings, I'd fill a big plastic bowl about half full with Raisin Bran, Cheerios, or Grape Nuts, fill a thermos with cold milk, grab a spoon, head to the blackberry bushes where I'd fill up the rest of the bowl with berries.

                                                        Then I'd take everything over to a nearby abandoned farm field where a junky old semi trailer rested in a copse of trees. I'd climb into that trailer, pour the milk over my cereal and berries, and have my leisurely breakfast while I read a book. After I ate, I lingered there the rest of the morning reading or visiting with neighbor kids (Gary, Dennis, Scott, Linda) who came out to the field to play.

                                                        Then it was home for lunch and chores most of the afternoon. But those blackberry mornings really made my day.

                                                        1. re: wawajb

                                                          My family was big on picking fruit -- apples, strawberries, raspberries, blackberries, oranges (when we got to FL), etc. Looking back, I think my mom needed the free labor to get plenty of goods for pie-baking & jelly-making! But I didn't care. I loved it. (Unfortunately, my kids never really went for it, as much as I tried to make them!) And my daddy's garden always had a delightful array of things to pick. My favorite picking, though, was berries in the country.

                                                          My favorite berry-picking memories come alive again every time I visit my grandmother in the Great North Woods of Wisconsin. We still go wild raspberry picking and make jelly. (Of course, we eat some, too!) No raspberries found anywhere can match those delicious berries from the woods. (Maybe it's the dubious thrill of knowing you might at any second encounter a bear!)

                                                          I also used to pick Concord grapes on the way to school. My best friend and I had about a mile walk to school, and several yards had Concord grapes. Nothing matches those dewy grapes on a crisp autumn morning.

                                                          I do a lot of blueberry picking now and have also picked muscadines (closest thing to Concord I can regularly get since my Concord vine died. I will get another some day!) I love peach picking. And when I visited a friend in CT a couple years ago, I went apple picking all by myself. Flew a whole box of apples home and shipped my clothes back!! haha

                                                          Those childhood memories can be brought back instantly with those familiar aromas...

                                                          1. re: luv2bake

                                                            We had a farm a couple of hours north of the city that we lived at over the summer. It had 58 acres of forest attached to it, and we would ride our little motorbikes down into the forest roasting in the requisite jeans, rubber boots, long-sleeved shirts and helmets that were the mother-mandated part of the excursion. My brother and I would pick wild blackberries from bushes that were twice our height and loaded with fruit. I remember three details quite clearly: the heat of our outfits, our warm and sticky, fruit-stained hands and the high-pitched buzz of the everpresent mosquitoes. But what fun! And the jam and cobblers that were made from our efforts were to die for!

                                                        2. My last name is Shiffrar, so I as a small child, I had to endure the taunts of other kids singing, "If you think it's butter, but it's not, it's Shiffrar."

                                                          Evil brats should rot in hell. :)

                                                          BTW, anybody remember those commercials? It was for a margarine named Chiffon.

                                                          1 Reply
                                                          1. re: Bostonbob3

                                                            It is often sung in our house, usually after one of us says, "It's like buttah!"

                                                          2. My Dad would occasionally get a "taste" for some smoked eel,which several of the local crabbers would smoke themselves. It wasn't something I remembering as a favorite, but it was a good bonding experience as my mom and none of my sisters (4 of um)would even get close to the eels. It was just me and Dad.

                                                            1. Another "just my Dad and I" post. Dad ran a small corner dairy/grocery store, and his love of good food was known in our small town. One friend used to bring us in a brown paper bag full of fresh morels, with the dirt still clinging them. When he would be off work, he would wash and dry the morels, then saute until browned. Such succulence! As the "baby of the family", he shared those morels only with me, which made me a foodie from about age 5! Have had morels since, but no, they weren't quite the same.

                                                              Dad also made his own ice cream at the store, and I do remember getting samples of the chocolate and vanilla, high in butterfat, as fresh as you can get. He would also bring home the vanilla ice cream, and we would have slabs of it between these square wafer cookies - can still remember the taste and creamy/crunchy texture of those!

                                                              1. When I was 6-ish, my dad's new girlfriend made "us" (the kids) spaghetti.

                                                                But her home-made bolognese recipe for sauce was very different from my mother's typical meat sauce. I didn't like it, and consequently threatened that it would make me "barf."

                                                                Lots of tears from the girlfriend, sister giggling, dad trying to broker peace... not good.

                                                                About 15 years later, away at university, homesick and with overwhelming craving for the taste of home. Called my stepmother and told her that all I wanted was spaghetti with her proper home-made sauce.

                                                                Must have been very sweet revenge.

                                                                1. When I was a kid, New York pizza was made with fresh ingredients by Italian immigrants. Still remember my childhood pizzeria on 58th and 8th. (It's a Starbucks now.)

                                                                  And for special occasions, we'd go to Rocky Lee, the greatest thin crust pizza place of all time.

                                                                  1. Texas summer fish fries. Adults perched on picnic tables, cigarettes dangling from their hands. My dad manning the fryer. A table piled with fried catfish, homemade hushpuppies, french fries, tartar sauce. Iced tea (though I never drank it). Us kids running around playing, our mouths watering at the smell, until it's time to eat. Perfectly crisp, non-greasy catfish. Sweat and muggy heat permeating everything. Water guns. Catfish. Yum. Boy, do I miss those fish fries.

                                                                    1. My mom trying to kill freshly caught catfish in the sink using a huge meat cleaver. A lot of wet flopping followed by the thud of the cleaver, then a lot more flopping. Those catfish heads were hard as a rock.

                                                                      5 Replies
                                                                      1. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                        Skinning them was even more fun

                                                                        1. re: Hue

                                                                          Mother would soak the cleaned, skinned catfish overnight in salty water. Was supposed to take away the "muddy flavor".

                                                                          1. re: Sharuf

                                                                            My mom and grandma would do that with all the fish they ever dealt with--catfish, crappie, bass, whatever.

                                                                            1. re: Sharuf

                                                                              Like the old recipe for carp and or catfish...get a cedar plank
                                                                              about half an inch thick, place the cleaned fish on the plank
                                                                              and put it in a 400 degree oven for about two hours.
                                                                              Take it out of the oven allow to cool
                                                                              Then throw away the fish and eat the cedar plank
                                                                              Never liked carp or catfish

                                                                          2. re: monkeyrotica

                                                                            My really tiny Jewish great-grandmother kept big carp in the bathtub before passover and then bludgeoned them to death with a club!

                                                                          3. As a young girl I really wanted to fish when we were down the shore. Daddy wasn't a fisherman, so I learned how to crab. One morning Daddy took me crabbing with a friend and his son. Dad's friend was too cheap to rent a motorboat, so a rowboat would just have to doe . Needless to say, we didn't catch many crabs. So, the very next Saturday, Daddy woke me up and just the two of us went crabbing, in a real motorboat. We caught a big bushel basket full of crabs. I thought that Mom was going to kill him when we got home and she had to steam all of those crabs. One got loose, and Mom climbed up on a chair screaming. Daddy chased it around that small kitchen with a pair of pliers. Those fresh steamed crabs were so wonderful. I don't think I have ever had such delicious blue crabs since that night.

                                                                            1. Before I post my story, I hope everyone creates good food memories for their kids, grandkids or nieces & nephews. I think of all the kids who's only memory of their mother's cooking as going through a drive-thru..

                                                                              My grandma had small back-yard garden behind her house in Queens..I remember helping her pick radishes, carrots, etc. But what I remember most is the cucumber salad she would make every summer-just cukes,vinegar,onions, salt & some sugar. I still crave it & make it, but it isn't the same without her. She was food-she loved to feed people and cook. She made both jewish and italian food, so I have visions of me helping her bread veal cutlets to helping her roll out dough for rugeleah (sp). Her cooking was so beloved, people spoke of her cooking at her funeral. I don't think she visited anyone without an old sherbet container with some sort of treat. Family car trips with her involved trays of fried this and that--chicken cutlets and corn fritters..our car would reek, but we'd love it.

                                                                              My mother, her daughter, as well was a spectacular cook, but with a gourmet bent. What I most remember about my mothers cooking is the pride she took in it-she's a tough act to follow! When she was too tired to cook after work, her quick meal for us was usually tuna salad..but even then she took her time to make a beautifully presented salad...
                                                                              this is making me weepy!

                                                                              I love hearing everyone's stories, more please!

                                                                              1 Reply
                                                                              1. re: RaleighRocker

                                                                                My Mother was not a good cook, but that doesn't mean I don't have fond food memories of her. My Dad died when I was 10 and Mom closed the kitchen. When she got home from work, she'd honk the car horn and I'd come running out and we'd go somewhere to eat. We had a few traditions (a favorite local steak house on pay day, Friendly's for Reese Peanut Butter Sundaes if I'd had a bad day, pizza on Friday night) but for the most part we'd wing it and nearly every place was local and fast food was a rarity. My Mom has been deceased for nearly 13 years now and I'd put my food memories with her up against anyone's. While they are different, they are no less special.

                                                                              2. When I was young, I had a few wonderful food memories.

                                                                                One lovely neighbor Mrs. White, had a gorgeous pear tree, loaded down with delicious bartlett pears. About once a week after dinner, she would come out to her garden and collect all the pears that had fallen off the tree. There were a few of us kids, that would come up to her yard, and she would take a paring knife, and cut off a bruise and hand us ripe pears. We just stood, eating pears, and watching this little old lady, gracefully giving out pears. Those were wonderful summer evenings.

                                                                                Then, all summer long we would go to Revere Beach after supper, during low tide. We brought buckets and forks, to dig for clams in the wet sand, right near the water's edge. I remember being taught how to detect a clam under the sand, by stepping on a hole, and if it squirted out water, we dug fast and furious. Sure enough, we got buckets of fresh clams. Yum.

                                                                                1. Mushrooming. My family is Polish, so it was an obsession. My mother would scout the neighborhood after it rained, and then send me (small and inconspicious) to do the gathering from other peoples' yards. Shaggy manes from the front yard of the convent, giant puffballs by the library, and honey mushrooms down the block...frequently got spoken to by the property owners.

                                                                                  Also, hours spent mushrooming in the woods. Once my mother got shot at with rock salt by an irate landowner...

                                                                                  I got to eat the mushrooms, though. Really wonderful.

                                                                                  3 Replies
                                                                                  1. re: Gin and It

                                                                                    Oh, me too. My dad (Polish-Jewish) was such an avid mushroomer and we would find huge grocery bags full of morels in the spring and chanterelles, hen of the woods, etc. in the fall. I got so spoiled! We were big-time scavengers, eating lamb's quarter, chickory, dandelion greens, blackberries... Years later, I really freaked out my housemates in inner-city DC when I came home from the park with a big bag of chanterelles. They were everywhere and there was no one else who knew enough to pick them!

                                                                                    1. re: Gin and It

                                                                                      That reminds me of my mother's stories about her yia yia, her Greek grandmother who lived with them. Yia Yia would scour the neighborhood for dandelions. Mom said she was mortified, and if someone would see Yia Yia and say, "Isn't that your grandmother?" she'd say, "No."

                                                                                      I just wish I had some of Yia Yia's recipes for her dandelion greens. Might make my walks more interesting, hunting out the greens!

                                                                                      1. re: Gin and It

                                                                                        That reminds me of my mom finding mushrooms in the greenbelt behind our house after the rain. Whenever she found these, she'd slice them up and they'd be the main event in a bubbling pot of sukiyaki. Then she read about people eating poisonous mushrooms so she never cooked anything she found in our forest.

                                                                                        She also used to pick these baby ferns - i think they're called bracken - and dry them out on our deck and then make this yummy dried fern salad. But then she read about a woman picking these on the side of a road and getting hit by a car, so she stopped doing that too.

                                                                                        Sometimes I really hate the newspaper. :o(

                                                                                      2. Abalone prepared in the motel kitchenette after mom and dad got them out of the sea at low tide near Cayucos or Pismo. Pounded, pan fried, served w/ just shoyu and hot gohan! 1950s! Fishing trips in the high Sierra where brown trout would be pulled out of streams just a foot or two wide, cooked flayed on green sticks over a small fire and eaten with a touch of salt and the packed musubi!! PICNIKS--in the foothills of the Sierras or at Roeding or Kearny Park in Fresno! Now you all have made me remember the canvas tarps my mom and dad used to have just for picniks, the Japanese o bento we always had. I wish I could tell them.

                                                                                        1. Guess you're korean... i had similar experiences when I was young. family went to the beach in maine and collected fresh sea urchins. we put the 'catch' in the bathtub and proceeded to crack them open and eat them with soysauce.

                                                                                          Of course, when I was younger, this was totally gross. Nowadays, I'd die to relive the freshness of those urchins!

                                                                                          1. My father would take us on vacation to an oceanfront Cottage in Seabrook Beach, NH, before the nuclear plant was built there (yikes) and before the "Cottages" were multi milliondollar homes that cost 3K a week to rent.
                                                                                            We'd stay for two weeks. My mom would cook vast amounts of fried chicken (the sea air really gave me an appetite during the day and made me sleep like a log at night). But my favorite was when my dad took HIS one vacation day during the vacation and went deep sea fishing. I used to love it when he caught mackerel. I remember them as being huge and so beautiful to my childhood eyes. I would help him fillet them and he'd get our small charcoal (Kingsford!) hibachi. While the coals got gray, my mom and I would place the mackerel fillets (no bones, but with skin) on the tin foil, top them with slices of green pepper, onion and tomato, salt and pepper, and some pats of butter. Then we'd seal up the foil and dad would cook the mackerel. We'd eat on the porch and sop up the juices left in the foil with Italian bread. I miss those days and my parents so very much.