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Fondest Childhood Memories...

My Nana loved to can and make all sorts of interesting goodies. Why I recall this one is a mystery to me? She liked to make sugared citrus rind and I'd always help. I'd sit on the "chair with the stairs" (a step stool w/steps that pulled out, It was sunshine yellow, metal and very heavy!!) and dredge the cooked rind in sugar.

"Crackles" and "Nutty Cookies"! oh yummers!

"Spritz Cookies"! Changing the different design disks, making them, decorating them and waiting to eat them!! Yummy cheese puffy treats, like a cracker, but fluffier and oh-so-tasty!!

Another memory was the day after Thanksgiving when my Mom would have the pressure cooker making turkey and rice soup, and creating her "Day After Turkey Day" casserole and "Turkey Divine"!

YUM! Good 'ol homemade foods. Ah, nice warm thoughts on a cold day! :-)

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  1. We had a big field near where I grew up. One day I went out with a group of friends and picked tons of wild strawberries/frais du bois, most as small as my pinky nail. I brought them and my friends back home and got my mom to "help us" make them into fresh strawberry pies. It was great fun - for us kids - and so delicious.

    When we moved away from that field we'd take trips to a pick-your-own berry farm (much more efficient!) and I have great memories of picking berries and making jam with my mother.

    3 Replies
    1. re: maviris

      Nice! My Dad grew a lot of organic fruits/vegs, and of course, as a child I was always miffed why we couldn't AFFORD to shop at the store for these things? LOL! What I would give now for such pure and delicious produce!?!

      1. re: Mermazon

        I too, can only dream of the fresh veggies my Mom & Dad would bring in sometimes having so much we had to go visit all the neighbors. Everyone was always happy to see us coming. Tomatoes the size of dinner plates and green beans if lined up would reach the moon!

        1. re: othervoice

          i love the image of green beans end-on-end reaching to the moon! :)

    2. Walking into my grandmother's house for dinner and smelling her BBQ chicken. I miss her.

      1. Watching my Mom cook at the eye level of the counter/chopping board, I guess around 5 or 6. I'd go and watch just about everyday just because that's what kids do. After a while I figured out what would be for dinner by watching the ingredients and process, and of course by asking 20 times.

        On a "good" day I remember thinking to myself "we're going to have really good food tonight" and barely being able to contain myself. On bad days I'd go in the play room and eat junk with my sister.

        Others: strawberry patch that produced a couple of quart bowls each day during summer...so much I got sick of them. Valencia orange tree. Barbecued lamb chops with my Grandmother.

        1. The first time (that I remember) we had Thanksgiving dinner at my paternal grandparents' house. Their tradition was roast duckling, and it was awesome! Love at first bite. As soon as I was on my own, it became my tradition also; and for Christmas, too, unless there are too many guests -- then I go with goose.

          1. When I was in first grade we moved a mile (!) from my school, but my grandma lived two houses down. So I would go to her house for lunch every day. She'd make cheeseburgers, or french toast, or chicken noodle soup, and cinnamon toast cooked under the broiler. When I had my very first loose tooth, she cut my cheeseburger into bite-sized pieces.

            My other grandma made these open-faced sandwiches: spread mustard on a slice of bread, then slice a hot dog lengthwise, place on the bread and top with a slice of cheese. Then you put it in the toaster oven.

            1. I remember being about 6 years old and staying over at my Italian Nana's house. My 5 year old brother and I asked for ice-cream sandwiches for dessert. She had no idea what we were talking about, so made us sandwiches with Wonder Bread and vanilla ice cream. Best darned ice cream sandwich, ever.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                That story makes me very happy, I don't know why. Thank you for sharing it.

                1. re: Eatin in Woostah

                  That made my husband & me laugh & laugh! Great story.

                2. I also remember going over to my grandma's house when she was making pickles and the smell was so bad that I went around lighting candles and spraying air fresheners--which actually made matters worse. (Now I make my own pickles and that smell doesn't bother me a bit.)

                  1. My mother would take mushrooms caps - put them on bread, face up, fill with a little butter, place under the broiler. Once melted, flip caps over so the butter drissled over the bread, broil a little longer, the bread would slightly toast, mushrooms would sort of shrivel. I thought we were eating gourmet and we were eating classy. I loved it. I thought we were sooo special - I don't remember my friends eating like this. And we had just moved from a two family apt. - we were moving on up! :-) Maybe the beginning of my chowhound history.

                    1. As a kid (7-8) living in Oregon, going out with the family to pick blackberries and having to race the dog who could pull those things off the canes like a vaccuum sucking up a cotton ball. We would go back home, and I would help my mom make blackberry pies. Also, hunting with my dad and then coming home to help dress the birds and make dinner. Then there was the garden: a 30 x 70 foot plot of earth that we supplemented with rice hulls and horse manure. My dad and I worked for a full two weeks in the spring to get the soil just right. We had a great time working together, I loved spending the time with him. The best tomatoes, strawberries, zucchini, bell peppers and melons (my dad used to pretend to get mad because I'd go out to the garden and eat a whole casaba by myself!) came from that garden. Now I'm passing on the knowledge to my son and daughter.

                      I also remember when I was in high school I would help my mom cook huge mexican dinners, enchiladas (tortillas from scratch), arros con pollo, beans, chile relleno. I did all her prep and clean up, and still helped make the dinner. I worked hard, but wouldn't trade that time with her for anything.

                      12 Replies
                      1. re: gsshark

                        Ah...nice memories, thanks for sharing!! Funny, I just had some homemade blackberry pie! Oh Yum, I miss gardens like that...

                        Hmmm, by any chance do you happen to have a great recipe for Chile Rellenos??? I adore those and have had some difficulty making ones I really like.

                        1. re: Mermazon

                          No recipe, just method. I've tried like crazy to get the rellenos like my mom's, but have only hit twice. Here's the method. Make a cut just at the crown of the (Anaheim) peppers about an inch across, roast the peppers over the flame on your gas range (hope you have a gas range!), place between two damp kitchen towels to steam. While your waiting, make the dredge. Salt and pepper mixed in flour to taste - should taste lightly salted and peppered - a couple of eggs beaten with a fork; keep them cold (my mom used to add a little ice water when the eggs sat out for a while). Prep your cheese. Mom used sharp cheddar and monterey jack. Two strips about four inches long and about 1/2 inch square.
                          Get your oil hot in a cast iron pan. Peel the skin from the peppers, insert cheese, dredge in egg, then flour then place into hot oil. By the time she (or I) got three or four in, it was time to turn the first one, just so you get an idea of how hot the oil is. Serve warm. I'll never forget those (mine still aren't as good) - the mixed cheeses melted, slight spice from the pepper, the light batter and just a little taste of oil. Mmmmmmm, I know what I'm making for dinner tomorrow!
                          I also vary the cheeses sometimes, using pepper jack or garlic, but always go with cheddar/monterey for guests.
                          Let me know if you try it, or if you can offer some tips gsshark2000@yahoo.com

                          1. re: gsshark

                            Sounds so yummy! Was there ever any type of sauce that you added to it when plated? It seems like a lot of places here in So Cal like to do a mild chile/onion sauce. Oh, and how much oil do you usually use? (And what kind?)

                            Thanks for the great recipe-I'll take ya up on the tips via email! Look for me coming via Yahoo as well... O=:) Merm

                            1. re: Mermazon

                              No sauces. It surprises me that many restaurants do this (even to burritos). But we ate ours with enchiladas, so there was some sauce to drag it through. Use canola or other vegetable oil, about half an inch, you don't want to put more than half of the chile in the oil. I guess the reason for this is to melt the cheese on the inside, and completely submerging the chile will cook the batter, but not melt the cheese.

                              1. re: gsshark

                                I agree with the sauces! Thanks for the tips! O=:)

                          2. re: Mermazon

                            I'm sure this doesn't qualify as a "great" recipe, but when I was in college I'd come home on weekends now and then and while we were waiting for the grill to heat up I'd make a sort of chile-relleno-like appetizer thing. I would use those canned slimy chiles, put some gooey white cheese inside and roll them in egg roll wraps and deep-fry them.

                            I'm not sure I'd eat them now, although we seemed to like them for some reason back them--except my sister, who called them "snot rolls."

                          3. re: gsshark

                            Funny, I used to know a couple of retrievers that sucked blueberries off the bushes like that! But we still managed to get enough to make the best ever blueberry pie using a recipe from a WWII Victory Garden Cookbook...that pie crust was amazing.

                            1. re: prunefeet

                              One of the couples in my church has a border collie who was once out with the husband as he was picking raspberries. He said the dog watched him pulling the berries off the bushes and putting them in the bucket, then she started picking them, too, and spitting them into the bucket!

                                1. re: prunefeet

                                  Our Shetland Sheep Dog (the giant economy size, like a small
                                  collie), has caused us to move the location of our summer garden. We used to have many varieties of tomatoes which we would stake out. His nose is long enough to reach through the webbing and
                                  he would EAT the tomatoes right off the plants. We wondered why
                                  he wanted to go out every 5 minutes in the summer when it was 95
                                  degrees, but figured it out fast when he would come home with a
                                  mane full of tomato seeds! Apparently, many other dogs love
                                  tomatoes as well.

                                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                    Oh yeah. Our golden retriever would work her way into the tomato bed and eat for 15 - 20 minutes, even standing on her hind legs to get at the tomatoes. Like you I was trying to figure out why she wanted out so frequently, and I was also wondering why the tomatoes would blossom and set, but not mature!

                                2. re: revsharkie

                                  Not sure I'd want to eat those berries!

                            2. My great grandma also had one of those stools, in red. There's a picture of me sitting on it with my red corduroy jumper next to an apple pie. Now, I really want that stool, but when my great grandma died, I was only 11 and didn't really know what was going on and they sold the stool at her estate sale! My uncle said he didn't want it around anymore because he always had to sit on it in a timeout!! Well, I never had to and I want it!

                              My mom and I went through my great grandma's recipes last weekend briefly for my family cookbook- a whole lot of memories in there! Newspaper articles meticulously taped in a little notebook- my mom said that my great grandma would often "busy" her with this when she visited. Little notations next to the recipes in her "grandma hand writing". I think there were about 10 different recipes for Oatmeal Date cookies, among many other repeats from "Lucille", "Betty", or "Celia"! (She was a Mildred! ;-)

                              My mom drawing faces on the eggs for me to crack them on the "nose".

                              Making May baskets with my mom- does anyone still make May baskets?! I'm going to this year!

                              Sitting on my grandma's counter making cookies.

                              8 Replies
                              1. re: Katie Nell

                                I know!!! I really want our old stool too! I saw one similar online last year (I think at Target???) And if I am not mistaken, it came in 'your' red, and my 'yellow'! Although I bet not as sturdy as the ones we sat on in our youth!! Besides, I'm a sentimental gal, and would've loved ours!

                                I wish I still had the recipes of my Aunt, Mom and Nana...somehow they got thrown out by my brother years ago. (Argh! the CAD!) ;-) Great idea for you to make a cookbook outta your family's. I bet it'll be lovely!

                                Thanks for sharing some nice memories. O=:) Merm

                                1. re: Mermazon

                                  Yeah, I'm being a baby, I want the antique one! :-)

                                  1. re: Katie Nell

                                    Well, then I second that "WAH!" 'coz I'd prefer the antique one too!

                                  2. re: Mermazon

                                    I made a cookbook of family & other favorite recipes for Mike's grandson after he spent the summer with us last year and helped me cook just about every day. Then my mom took it and added a bunch more family favorites, and some old family stories and photos, and fixed it up for my cousin when he got married in September. And finally, she added some more stuff and gave it to all of us for Christmas.

                                  3. re: Katie Nell

                                    Check ebay for a "metal step stool". I know I've seen them there, but it was pricey.

                                    1. re: kloomis

                                      I had the opportunity to get one at an estate sale. I was SO close to buying it. It was $25. I had already spent so much that I had to give something up. I think about that thing quite often.

                                      1. re: luv2bake

                                        I may go with the one Target has- very similar, but not the "real" thing.

                                        1. re: kloomis

                                          If you get one soon, let us know, if it's sturdy enough. I know nothing's as good as the "real thing"...but those online at Target DID look pretty darned close...O=:)

                                  4. Every year for my birthday I was allowed to pick whatever I wanted, which (starting when I was about 4) was always artichokes and lobster. My dad would buy the artichokes at an Italian market near his office in NYC and my mom would take me to the lobster pound (which kept the lobsters in these enormous concrete tanks) so I could pick out my lobster. Ah, the melted butter! Ah, the joy of eating with my hands! Now I'm allergic to lobster...but I still have my memories.

                                    9 Replies
                                    1. re: Elizzie

                                      Me too! Boiled lobster and artichokes for my birthday, duck a l'orange for thanksgiving, and lobster thermidor for Christmas Eve. Christmas, Beef Wellington. I can still taste the first time I had lobster thermidor...

                                      1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                        Ah, lobster thermidor...why why why am I cursed with this allergy?

                                        1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                          I wanna be a kid in your HOMES!!! O=:)) P L E A S E ?!? ;-)

                                          1. re: Notorious EMDB

                                            The Chips and Dips cookbook from Crate and Barrel has a recipe for Lobster thermidor dip that I make every holiday. You can also do it with shrimp. Highly advise you to get this book. It has GREAT app recipesl

                                          2. re: Elizzie

                                            "Get outta here!" ... at FOUR YEARS OLD you were choosing lobster and artichokes!?!? WOW! That's an amazing palate for a young child. I admit, wish I was a kid in YOUR household!! Hee hee hee, I bet a lot of folks would be like:
                                            "Honey, are you sure you don't want some Mac n'cheese instead!?"
                                            Apparently you've been a "Chow Master" for decades!?
                                            I bow to you! ;-) O=:)

                                            1. re: Mermazon

                                              The first time I ever tasted lobster was during a dinner party my parents were having. I wandered in to say goodnight, asked my dad for a taste and when I responded by swooning in delight he looked at my mom and said, "Well, I'm going to live to regret that..." Yeah, I was defiitely a ChowKid and had some very definite ideas about where we should stop for lunch on Saturdays. Interestingly, both of my brothers are total Chowhounds as well, must run in the family.

                                              1. re: Mermazon

                                                Elizzie's lobster and artichokes at four years old reminds me of my own daughter, now age 32.

                                                At four years old, she loved lobster and artichokes. And whole baby squid and soft shelled crab. And bleu cheese and brie. And she was already a mustard connoisseur -- a passion that remains to this day and inspires me to find all sorts of unique mustards to send her in her holiday package.

                                                I distinctly recall trips we took when she was between the age of two and seven and we dined in all manner of ethnic restaurants all over the USA. She never once turned up her nose at anything that was offered, nor did she ask for McDonald's, mac 'n cheese, or a hot dog.

                                                Her favorite homecooked foods were my chili into which she pour honey and my mother's wonderful beef au jus sandwiches.

                                                She never was particularly fond of steak though she likes beef. Nor is she fond of nuts except those used in a recipe if used in moderation. For example, pecan pie wouldn't be her choice but a few pecans sprinkled on a salad of bibb lettuce with blueberries, bleu cheese and raspberry vinaigrette is just great. She also hasn't ever like popcorn but popcorn puffs ar just fine.

                                                1. re: KCJ

                                                  My parents were trying to figure out how to cook something other than the 1934 Fannie Farmer in downtown Cambridge, blocks away from the WGBH studios, when Julia Child first went on TV-- they couldn't help but be impressed.

                                                  I learned to cook from helping them with recipes from Mastering the Art of French Cooking, and their autographed copies from the first printing (and signing) at the Harvard Coop are the one thing I called dibs on in their wills!

                                                  I did, however, turn up my nose at split pea soup, as well as roasted turkey. A kid's gotta have some standards.

                                                  When I want to do something different, that they don't know how to cook, I go for something exotic-- like Italian. Or Indian. I can't possibly make a Veau Sylvie to match the one they made in 1972. : )

                                            2. Coming home from school to find my parents kitchen busy with activity as my great grandmother(Nana)in a housecoat, visiting from Brooklyn directed the cooking for the Jewish holidays whether it was regular Jewish food for Rosh Hashanah or the special, adapted foods for Passover. My grandmother, also visiting from Brooklyn and mother would be working hard and when I got home I joined in. Nana had been a chef at a Catskills hotel and she and my grandmother were both fabulous Jewish cooks. My father would help peel potatos and carrots and provided the muscle for grinding the liver in the old fashioned meat grinder to make homemade chopped liver.

                                              The cooking would go on for days and everything from the gefilte fish to chicken soup and kreplach or matzoh balls (depending on which holiday) through multiple main courses and sides to the desserts were home made. The house would smell like rendering chicken fat and onions, sweet tsimmes, braising deckel (a type of brisket) and baking streudel. There was always reminiscing and storytelling, laught and of course some arguing, bossing and sniping but continued cooking cooperation. I loved being in that kitchen trying to decipher the yiddish they'd use when they didn't want me to understand something waiting for something to be ready for sampling.

                                              The holidays were not the same after my Nana died and a little less special after later my grandfather and then my grandmother passed too. My parents retired this past summer and sold the house and moved to, where else, Florida.

                                              I'm not kosher at all and don't often cook Jewish food but when I do make a pot of chicken soup for my family the same way they did and the distinctive aroma of dill and simmering parsnips fills my house and I every time I go past the "jewish/kosher" section at the grocery store and see the familiar boxes, I remember us all in the kitchen together and it makes me happy. So why am I crying now?

                                              Anyway, my mother with time on her hands now, is making a cookbook for me and my sister (who isn't a cook) with the recipes they left and she collected. Most are on snippets of paper, many without amounts just ingredients and she says she's adding pictures and in some cases going to put the actual scraps of paper with their handwriting on them in the books.

                                              3 Replies
                                              1. re: laylag

                                                That's what I'm doing- putting my great grandma's, grandma's and all my great aunt's handwriting in the book too- sort of a blend between scrapbooky and professional cookbook. And pictures too.

                                                1. re: laylag

                                                  Ah, tears of joy! Thanks for sharing your heart O=:)

                                                  1. re: Mermazon

                                                    Me too (tears of joy).

                                                    My Nanny (grandmother) made the most delicious Mun Cookies (sort of pronounced as a shorter "oo" as in moon, but not "uh" as in sun). I love poppy seed to this day.

                                                2. Random order:

                                                  Having my grandfather take us to Baskin Robbins for ice cream a couple times a month.

                                                  My grandmother's brisket.

                                                  My other grandmother's macaroni and red sauce.

                                                  Thanksgiving at my uncle's place in upstate NY.

                                                  My mother making me stouffer's mac n' cheese whenever she made blintzes for the rest of the clan (I just could never get down with blintzes).

                                                  My mother's pancakes from scratch.

                                                  Hot dogs, all the time.

                                                  1. Laylag, I come from a long line of Jewish chefs/cooks too! My grandmother started the Kosher kitchen at OSU Hillel when I was a child. She was my roomate as she lived with us and my very best friend as a young child. We would take the bus (very exotic to me), about a 45 min ride with 2 changes, to the campus and I thought I was so special because the college students made such a big deal out of me. I went with her 5 days a week from age 3-5. Friday was the best day because she prepared all the food for Shabbat. I think I learned to peel potatoes and carrots when I was 3, no kidding. If there is such a thing as Smell-o-vision, I would love to have captured the smells from her kitchen. Needless to say, she was extremely popular with the students. She had her favorites and they got to come to my parents' home for cooking lessons in Hungarian Jewish cooking - how to make stuffed cabbage rolls, stuffed peppers, all sorts of different strudels hand stretched over the huge dining room table and made into a horseshoe on the baking sheet. Every time I prepare for Rosh Hashanna, Yom Kippur break the fast (dairy!), or Passover, I use her recipes. The suggestion to put these into a cookbook for my daughters is a good one, however, first they would have to demonstrate some interest. Somehow, my 2 daughters have never been interested in learning how to cook period. Well, hopefully, some day I'll have grandchildren and I can teach my teenage nephew the family recipes, he is turning out to be quite the cook as well. This has been a very nostalgic thread, I am feeling quite ferklempte!!

                                                    4 Replies
                                                    1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                      I know! I am loving all these wonderful memories!! Thanks so much for sharing-this'll always be a favorite topic/thread for me. I am such a sentimental poop! I think since my Mom passed away and I recently got married, I'm feeling even more nostalgic. It seems like so much family is gone-I'm missing those dear moments.

                                                      1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                        My grandmother was also a fabulous Jewish cook; but unfortunately, my mother never had any interest in learning to cook, or even really all that much interest in food....So while I remember some of those recipes from when I was really young, I've had to relearn how to make them myself!

                                                        And particularly unfortunately, we never lived in the same city as Grandma and Grandpa, so eating her cooking was always just a few times a year thing. When we did visit, my parents would usually get a hotel and the kids would take the spare bedroom at Grandma's. As a result, one particularly fond memory is eating her breakfasts. First of all, they lived in the Los Feliz neighborhood of LA in the *coolest* ever Spanish style apartment that had a built in eating nook in the kitchen (I still covet that apartment; I plan to go find it one of these days and see how ridiculously expensive it would be: they rented it for at least 30 years)...but more importantly from a CH perspective, we'd sit at that breakfast nook, enjoying the LA sunshine and the views of the citrus and avocado trees outside the window, and get treated to absolutely perfectly cooked soft boiled eggs, fresh and outstanding grapefruit, toast with real butter, perhaps some oatmeal....this was nothing like the cereal and milk that was a typical breakfast at home! I can't tell you how many years it took me to learn to make an egg that tasted like those...and when I was shopping in a kitchen supply store and found egg cups like the ones she used, I was really surprised at how teary-eyed I got!

                                                        Anyway, my theory (since my Mother wasn't much of a cook) was that it always skipped a generation (I can cook, so can my sisters, and I figured we learned out of self defense whereas my Mother never needed to learn :-), but my daughter has proved that theory wrong. I went to visit her in LA recently (and now that I am spending more time there she and I really are going to go check out the apartment on my next trip!) and in her own little walk-up apartment she served me my lasagna, only better!

                                                        1. re: susancinsf

                                                          Don't forget the fresh-squeezed orange juice....usually set in front of you the moment you sat down!!

                                                          To this day I love to eat soft-boiled eggs in egg cups...reminds me of those breakfasts.....

                                                          1. re: janetofreno

                                                            My Mom used to call the fresh OJ that we'd drink in the morning "eye openers"!! She really believed in a good healthy start for our day. (We hardly ever drank coffee as kids unless visiting one of our Mom's colleagues who'd offer us Cuban coffee...yum!)

                                                            Dad grew virtually every citrus known to man (it seemed!) we'd pick our oranges for the juice and grab a grapefruit or 2 for breakfast. AH....how fortunate I was, and never fully appreciated it as a child. Besides citrus, he grew as much fruit and veggies as he could fit into our big backyard. Yep, organic, fresh produce all the time-how I long for that now!

                                                      2. Amazing, all these folks with memories of the kitchen stools we sat on as kids. I have the stool that I said one in my Gram's house (as did my mother) butter yellow. My fondest memory is watching my Gram cook eggs for my Gramp's breakfast, over easy, and listening to her count the time out loud when the eggs were done. My job was taking care of his toast. Moreover, my best friend who lived up the street from Gram, an old vernerable Italian family in the Bay area, and her Nonni. I'd spend my days after school with Catherine, and watched her Nonni making "sauce", every day, most of the day, from scratch. "Sauce" was her version of bologase, which was amazing! I still make it from time to time, and Catherine and Gram's yellow stool in the corner of the kitchen are right there!

                                                        1 Reply
                                                        1. re: lrostron

                                                          Oh! you are so fortunate to still have "the stool"! I know I am covetous, and perhaps Katie Nell (another Chow 'stoolie') is too???

                                                        2. Going with my dad on Saturdays to buy homemade corbina ceviche from a vendor near our house in Panama. My mom's spicy enchiladas when I had the flu.

                                                          1. Getting stuff together right now for a rabbit dinner I'm preparing for some friends, I've been reminiscing about my dad's bringing home rabbits and squirrels he'd shot, cleaning them in the back yard, the smell of his oiled canvas hunting coat and of the burnt gunpowder in the spent shotgun shells he'd let me play with...and then, best of all, the luscious braised meat, rich and tender and bathed in its own gravy. Once in a while Mom would vary her cooking method and make hasenpfeffer with the rabbit, a spicy-sweet-vinegary stew with thick homemade egg noodles.

                                                            No shotgun pellets to pick out of my rabbits, though - let'em thaw out and peel off the plastic cryovac wrappers...

                                                            1 Reply
                                                            1. re: Will Owen

                                                              My husband would be right on board there with you Will!!! He is a meat man, and loves his game. He always teases me saying:
                                                              "It tastes just like chicken!" Hmmmfph! I don't believe him ;-)

                                                            2. So many food memories ...

                                                              We too had a huge garden ... in the summertime, just before lunch I'd take a peck basket and go pick the day's tomatoes. I'd choose the six most perfect ones (and I'm talking big tomatoes, the size of a large orange), wash them, cut them in half, salt very generously (yikes!), and eat over the sink, juice running down my chin, with Dr Pepper.

                                                              Eating 7+ helpings of my mother's Swedish meatballs at Sunday dinner as the guests looked on in amazement :) I got all my height by 7th grade, so the few years before that I had a hollow leg. No one could believe what the skinny little kid was packing away ...

                                                              The food my grandmother cooked--her chicken casserole, roast beef, the date-nut candy she made in a roll in a tea towel for us to take back in the car ... her ham salad ...

                                                              When I was very small, my mother would give me a bit of pie crust to make my own little pie. As there got to be more of us, she would shoo us all out of the kitchen so she could cook alone. Somehow we all managed to learn to cook anyway ...

                                                              I also remember her making tongue in the pressure cooker, which she would serve either with BBQ sauce, or make sandwiches, sometimes open-face party sandwiches. These were wonderful, the texture was unlike anything else.

                                                              I also remember the disasters--like the salad soup made from leftover church supper salad. And the dish of homemade canned tomatoes and still-crunchy (not al dente!) pasta, no seasoning ... ugh.

                                                              5 Replies
                                                              1. re: foiegras

                                                                I ADORE tomatoes that way-either with sea salt or "Spike". (sans Dr. P though... ;-)

                                                                I'm a wee bit scared to know what 'salad soup' is, but plllleeeaassse, elaborate. I've gotta hear that!!

                                                                My Aunt and Nana used to make Ham salad! It's not something I see too much any more. Did your Grandmother ever cook her roast beef with little white potatoes? My Mom did-they'd be carmelized from the beef's juice and fat & also slightly crunchy on the outside (and oh so melt-in-your-mouth tender on the inside). Same for the beef! YUMMMMMERS! O=:) Merm

                                                                1. re: Mermazon

                                                                  You should indeed be scared ;) No food processors then I don't think, so I guess it called for putting the whole mess through a blender. I guess she added water and voila! salad soup. Worst thing ever. She got the idea from a women's magazine recipe, so that gives you an idea of just how dangerous they can be.

                                                                  I occasionally make ham salad myself, but I have a favorite vintage soda fountain I go to, and always order it there (they grill all their sandwiches, then add shredded lettuce, hamburger pickles on the side), with a chocolate malt.

                                                                  My grandmother was a big believer in buying the proper cut & roasting the meat without liquid in foil. No potatoes, but onions were roasted with it, maybe in 8ths, a layer on top of the meat.

                                                                  1. re: foiegras

                                                                    Wow...and did SHE eat it!?! A friend recently sent me a link to an old cookbook with some putrid recipes from the ? 50's ? I believe? It was HILARIOUS!! If I can, I'll try to put the link on here-I think it'd be a hoot for everyone!!

                                                                    1. re: Mermazon

                                                                      She did ... she is more about eating to live than living to eat, though she's a competent (if impatient) cook. I refused omelettes for years, because when she burned the scrambled eggs (no wonder, she'd start them & then go back to the bath to continue getting ready!), she'd tell us it was an omelette!

                                                                      I should note that she did not repeat the salad soup, that was a one-off :)

                                                                      1. re: foiegras

                                                                        How funny! My pal sent me this link (the one about the "Regrettable Foods")
                                                                        I think you, and anyone else who goes there shall find it funny. O=:)


                                                              2. wow, what a trip down nostalgia lane.

                                                                I was blessed to inherit my great-grandmoms red step/stool/chair. I can just picture her sitting in it next to the counter in her kitchen.

                                                                I would love to have my grandmother's bread pudding again.

                                                                1. My grandma (Mormor in Swedish) lived with us my entire life - she emmigrated here in the 20's from Solvesborg, Sweden where they had a bakery. I remember spending my weekends with her just baking - and I still have her breadboard that she brought with her. I'm so lucky to have so many of her recipes - she baked by eye so I'd watch and measure every single thing she did and write it down. Good memories...I miss my Mormor.

                                                                  1. We lived in Gaviota, California, in a tiny house on an oil lease where my dad worked. It was 2 bedrooms and there were 5 kids! We made it work by converting the garage to a bedroom and by getting a travel trailer parked in the back yard as a bedroom for the lucky oldest kid.

                                                                    It was a humble home but we had a 180 degree view of the ocean and a "private" beach - because it was behind a locked gate at the oil company marine terminal and pretty much too far to walk to from anywhere nearby.

                                                                    Dad would come home from work tired in the evening. He would open the gas oven door and prop up his feet to feel the warmth from the pilot light.

                                                                    Mom would get out some saltines or Ritz crackers in those long waxed paper tubes and put out a piece of cheese. Sometimes dad would bring home a chunk of smoked bonito wrapped in greasy butcher paper or open a can of sardines or smoked oysters.

                                                                    Dad would cut off pieces of cheese with his pocket knife and place them on a cracker with a piece of fish or oyster and pass them across to us as we sat around the table, listening to his and my mother's stories of what had happened that day.

                                                                    That was some of the best food I have ever eaten because it was shared with such love.

                                                                    5 Replies
                                                                    1. re: Snackish

                                                                      So true! L O V E ...

                                                                      I think a lot of us were very lucky to have family dinners together and family time. BOTH my parents worked, yet they found the time to make things special for us kids. This was in the 70's-80's, so it's not like I'm talking about the EARLY 1900's ! LOL! Ah, we were fortunate, eh?

                                                                      I love how I am hearing folks on this topic sound like they too incorporate home cooked meals with their family. Nice to read it's still happening!

                                                                      1. re: Snackish

                                                                        Snackish, wow! Having your own private beach would have been way cool. I grew up in the Midwest, although we went to Lake Erie, I didn't see a real ocean until I was ten. We loved eating outdoors and would picnic all summer long on weekends at various lakes and at the swimming pool during the week. I agree with Thomas Wolfe, You Can't Go Home Again. Have tried to replicate some of these memories with my kids, but it's not the same.

                                                                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                          This is the most gorgeous thread/text I've read in months, maybe years, this thread is....honestly. Diane it's true...I try to capture the traditions but my mom and dad and my aunties are the missing ingredients and I can't quite get it right without them. I read threads like Snackish's and the others and I think of my own family and think good lord, how they loved me....it even showed in the way we ate. I would give ten years of my life to go back and have just one dinner with them again.

                                                                          1. re: thegolferbitch

                                                                            Sometimes when I miss my college freshman daughter really bad, I play the videotapes engrained in my head of all the wonderful experiences I have had through the years as a child (they all involved food somehow or other) and all the experiences with my children. Those memories and smells have been captured in my head forever. Bon Appetite magazine does a back page article with celebrities who are asked with whom they would like to dine for one last gala meal. I agree GolferLady, I too would give 10 years to have one more family meal with the relatives, feel the warmth, laugh at the bad jokes, and taste the yummy food. There is a French book called No Exit where people are trapped forever in their version of Hell. My version of Heaven is a couple of card tables laden with foods, family and pets from long ago. My father, grandmother, great aunts and uncles are playing cards, my brother and cousins are running around whooping it up and our beloved dogs are waiting under the tables for scraps to fall from the table. That will be my homecoming, I just know it.

                                                                            1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                              We played cards too. You should write, Diane, if you don't already (beyond these boards!). You're really good. I'm going to pick up a Bon App. magazine now. Do you know I've never read one? It's time to start!

                                                                      2. Snackish, what a great story. See, it's not the food, it's the company...

                                                                        1. Good memories, in no particular order:
                                                                          - My Grandmom's poundcake. Greeting her at the door to our house while silmutaneously removing the delicious buttery loaf from her hands and yelling, "I get the first piece."
                                                                          - My Grammy's blueberry buckle. Secretly picking off pieces of the crumb topping while "waiting" for dessert.
                                                                          - My favorite dinner from my mom: pork chops or fried ham, homemade mac and cheese and applesauce (she usually made me eat something green too, but we won't talk about that)
                                                                          - My two brother racing to see who could eat the most tacos when I was 6 or 7, while my parents were impressed that I ate a WHOLE taco. I often regarded the dinner table as my own personal theater - talked a LOT.
                                                                          - Making homemade cookies with my mom, especially cut-out cookies. Now that I am a mom, my personal vow is to do the same with my son, despite how big of a pain in the neck it is.

                                                                          5 Replies
                                                                          1. re: amyvc

                                                                            When we were younger and eating crab legs for dinner, I'd always scrape out a good amount before dipping into butter. My piggy of a brother would "steal" my crab meat before I got a chance to eat it!! Now I do one leg at a time!! O=:)

                                                                            1. re: Mermazon

                                                                              Oh, in my house stealing the crab would be grounds for being sent to your room! :-)

                                                                              its funny, but I think our crab dinners are one memory my kids really love, and it is high on their list of requests when they visit in winter. However, the family is definitely divided into two camps on how to eat the crab: I do the one piece at a time route also (we eat Dungeness, which means the entire crab, not just legs), cracking open that leg or claw or piece of body and getting the meat out with chopsticks and eatin right away...and my son follows my lead. My daughter, however, is definitely in the get a good amount on the plate, then enjoy, camp. I do remember my son threatening to reach over to her plate, and perhaps even getting his hand slapped once or twice. :-)

                                                                              So, the first time my daughter came over to enjoy crab with my relatively new hubby (her stepdad), she was delighted to see that he waited till he had a nice pile of meat on the plate before eating!

                                                                              1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                I wish you could've been there to < protect > my crab meat! LOL! I think perhaps when I wasn't looking my Mom and Dad may have stolen a bite or two as well!?! O=:)

                                                                                1. re: Mermazon

                                                                                  poor thing...I would *never* do that...well, unless you count looking at hubby with doe eyes till he gives up a bite or two .....:-)

                                                                                  1. re: susancinsf

                                                                                    Wah!!! sniff, sniff, sniff. Thanks...I know, poor me! ;-)
                                                                                    I think that's why I was "given" a hubby that doesn't really like crab meat...why? MORE FOR ME! Hee hee hee...plus, he's like that with avocadoes! SHRIMP? Now that's another story! Although I confess the doe eyes help when he's just peeled a bunch! O=;)

                                                                          2. We came to this country in the 70s and were awed by all the varieties of food available. Although we didn't have much money, we made the most of what we had. Some random memories:

                                                                            Walking into the bagle shop by our apartment and reveling in the smell of piping-hot bagels coming out of the oven.

                                                                            Going to Chinatown and being embarrassed as my mother haggled with the venders about everything: "no way that's 2 lbs. of bok choy"; "your scale must be broken"; "you call this fresh?"; etc. Waiting in absolute boredom and fidgeting while my mother--the queen of freshness--smelled, felt, poked, and prodded everything. Of course, I do the same today!

                                                                            Coming home from school and there was always a homemade meal waiting for me.

                                                                            My sisters and I had a nightly ritual of devouring Entenmann cake before going to sleep...recalling our day, laughing often.

                                                                            The beam on my father's face whenever I complimented him on his wonderful shrimp curry dish and beef and onion fried rice.

                                                                            The look of joy on my mother's face when I told her friends that no matter where I've traveled around the world, I always get homesick for my mother's cooking--the best cook ever.

                                                                            And, years later, being in the hospital room with my mother when we all knew what the prognosis was. "So I'm really not going to be able to eat another meal at XYZ (my mother's favorite restaurant)?" she asked.

                                                                            And I thought, what a wonderful family I was born into, the immense role food has played in our lives, and how it seemed entirely appropriate that near the end of her life, one of my mother's regrets was not being able to go to her favorite restaurant again!

                                                                            1 Reply
                                                                            1. re: gloriousfood

                                                                              GF-Isn't it great to keep her memories alive? How sweet. I lost my Mom a couple years back-way too soon. S I G H... I am grateful for this topic and all who've shared. It's touched my heart and makes me see why so many of us love the kitchen!! O=:)

                                                                            2. My grandmother, 1st generation and 100% Greek, was an example for me of someone who loved to cook for people (and even animals!) she loved. She was a great cook, and she passed that on to my mom. (It had to be in the genes because my mom didn't know much about cooking when she got married!) And I got it, too. Granny & I were very close; she lived with us or very near us until I was about 15. After that, we saw each other regularly (holidays, vacations, etc.) and wrote to each other all the time (another love we shared).

                                                                              One day some years ago (Dec. 2001), I was preparing spanakopita using, of course, my grandmother's recipe. In the middle of making it, I got this overwhelming feeling that something was terribly wrong with Granny. I called the nursing home right away to check on her. She was moved to the home due to Alzheimer's because she had become a danger to herself and others (things like putting the coffee maker in the oven and turning on the oven thinking that's how she had to make coffee). Even though she seemed to be mostly unaware (I stress "seemed") and at that time we lived about 600 miles apart, I still visited her, wrote her, etc. So anyhow, I called the nursing home to check on her. I told them I had a feeling something was wrong, and they said she had been fine. I asked them to please indulge me and just go check on her. They did and came back to report that she was sitting in a chair and seemed perfectly fine.

                                                                              I told my husband I still didn't feel good about all of it. I felt something was really wrong. But what could I do 600 miles away, and the nurse is telling me she's fine? That was a Thursday. The following Tuesday, I got home to a message on my machine from my uncle, who lived near her, and said to call when I got in. He said nothing about Granny or anything, but I knew. I called him, and he said she was not doing well. He said we needed to get up there as soon as we could.

                                                                              As it turned out, Granny had stopped eating that day I called (of course, when I called, they didn't know she had "stopped eating" because it was the first day). She died on Wednesday.

                                                                              I find it comforting (maybe in a weird way to some people) that Granny somehow, some way I certainly do not understand, reached out to me while I was preparing her spanakopita. I obviously can not make her spana without thinking of her, of that day, and of our special bond. I make many things that she taught me, but that one is by far my best. I actually think mine has gotten to be even better than hers, and that's something I know would make her very, very pleased.

                                                                              That's probably not what you had in mind when you asked for food memories. I do have some great ones to share that are a little simpler. :)

                                                                              I'll try to limit my list, but I have a really hard time picking favorites!

                                                                              A couple other things of Granny's:
                                                                              a. koulourakia
                                                                              b. avgolemono soup

                                                                              Grandma E's:
                                                                              a. pancakes - my husband got her recipe, and his are almost as darn good as hers. She's still around - what a blessing.
                                                                              b. Swedish pepparkakor (my mom's have gotten to be about as good as Grandma's!)
                                                                              c. Cardamom coffee cake (actually a sweet bread - wonderful!)

                                                                              a. BBQ ribs (no one comes close. He taught me how; I haven't attempted yet!)
                                                                              b. chili (mine is close but not as good as his original but is better than his now, if that makes any sense!)
                                                                              c. smoked ham (and I'm not a huge ham fan)

                                                                              a. homemade cookies, especially spritz
                                                                              b. potato salad
                                                                              c. my mom makes the BEST pies. Her crust -- divine! I'm going to have to request some rhubarb pie ... mmmmm.

                                                                              Aunt Nikki's tomato & cucumber salad and her kourambiethes

                                                                              Mom & "Aunt" Linda's sauerkraut balls - O M G

                                                                              Homemade jelly, especially from wild raspberries picked in N. Wisconsin with Grandma E

                                                                              My (late) father-in-law's marinade, which my mother-in-law uses to perfection in pork roast

                                                                              Nachos - in various combinations, locations, and stages of life - with good friends

                                                                              The strawberry daiquiris of my college roommate/maid of honor's mom

                                                                              The delectable cookies baked by the Amish lady who lived in Amish country near where I grew up. Oh, how I wish I could find her and get recipes!

                                                                              Fresh apple cider at the orchard after hours of climbing and picking

                                                                              I guess that's a respectable list and probably more than anyone wanted! :)

                                                                              11 Replies
                                                                                1. re: luv2bake

                                                                                  Luv2bake, can you share your recipe for avgomeno soup? We live very near a very good Greek restaurant and next to good, old fashioned chicken noodle soup, this is my favorite! They won't share the recipe and I tried deconsructing it and doing on my own, but it didn't turn out well. Also, the sauce that is served with gyros? I find myself with leftover lamb from a roast and would love to make gyros, could buy the pitas, but can't seem to duplicate the sauce. TIA

                                                                                  1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                    Hi, Diane. Our family didn't really do the tzatziki sauce - I'm guessing that's what you mean w/ the gyros - the white, thickish sauce? I think it must have been regional in Greece and out of our family's region. But I do have a decent recipe for it that my daughter & I made one time for a school function. We took what we liked from various recipes and made our own. So it's not authentic, but it was good.

                                                                                    1 pint plain yogurt
                                                                                    1 large cucumber, peeled, seeded, and finely chopped
                                                                                    2 garlic cloves, minced
                                                                                    1/2 teaspoon sea salt
                                                                                    1 tablespoon fresh mint or dill, finely chopped
                                                                                    1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil (1 to 2)
                                                                                    1/2 teaspoon red wine vinegar, or 1 T white vinegar
                                                                                    salt and white pepper, to taste
                                                                                    fresh mint or dill sprigs for garnish

                                                                                    1. Line a colander or strainer with cheesecloth. Place it over a bowl, and pour in the yogurt. Cover & refrigerate overnight.

                                                                                    2. Put the chopped cucumber in a small colander or strainer, sprinkle with some salt, and toss. Put the strainer over a bowl and drain in the fridge overnight.

                                                                                    3. Next day, transfer your yogurt to a medium bowl. (You can throw out the liquid.) Make a paste with garlic and about ½ teaspoon of salt. Add to yogurt along with mint, oil, vinegar, and pepper. Stir, and add more salt to taste. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour.

                                                                                    4. Serve as a topping for souvlaki or over gyro meat in a pita. Good with fresh veggis, pita bread. If you serve it as a dip, garnish with mint sprigs or sprinkled dill.

                                                                                    1. re: luv2bake

                                                                                      I make a very similar dip and use it also over grilled salmon- divine! I dry rub the salmon with paprika, old bay, s & p, and dill. The cool cucumber yogurt really sets off the spicy salmon. Healthy and my kid actually loves any fish that way.

                                                                                    2. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                      And for the avgolemono, just take a whole chicken, clean and boil it. Add salt & pepper to taste. Remove the frothy stuff that forms while the chicken is boiling. Cook until done. At this point, you can remove the chicken to cool and add to the pot some long grain rice - about 1 - 1 1/2 cups - (or you can use pasta instead, especially manestra) and cook until it's done. Skin & bone the cooked chicken, and cut the chicken in pieces. Add it to the pot. Remove the pot from heat.

                                                                                      Then you beat a few large eggs in a medium bowl that can take heat. Gradually add fresh lemon juice (probably 3 lemons or more, depending on your taste). Add some broth a little at a time (so as not to cook the eggs) until the egg mixture is warm. Once it's warmed through, drizzle it into the hot broth, stirring constantly.

                                                                                      And there you've got it! If you don't eat all the soup at one meal, you end up having fat, mushy rice (or pasta) when you eat your leftovers. I've done various things to avoid this, but leaving the rice out while cooking is not advisable. The starch from the rice is important for the consistency of the soup.

                                                                                      You can also use leftover turkey for this recipe.

                                                                                      1. re: luv2bake

                                                                                        Thanks! I make chicken stock in a 16 qt. stock pot and freeze in 1 or 2qt. containers. I will try with a qt. size container and some of the chicken and adjust the lemon accordingly. Couple of questions: 1) will converted rice (Uncle Ben's) work? 2) would orzo (pasta that looks like rice) work? The tzatziki sauce recipe will be VERY helpful. This makes me want to go out and get a butterflied leg. I'm thinking of it for the Super Bowl as DH is from Chicago and gyros are big time Chicago fare. Thanks!

                                                                                        1. re: Diane in Bexley

                                                                                          Yes, UB's will work. I used it exclusively for many years until I got hooked on basmati.

                                                                                          Orzo & manestra are the same thing. I often forget to use the more common term and use the Greek manestra out of habit. :)

                                                                                          Let me know how it goes! I hope the freezing goes ok considering the eggs & the mushy-rice possibility. I can't remember if I've ever frozen mine or not. Surely I have?!?!

                                                                                    3. re: luv2bake

                                                                                      Luv2Bake, anything you want to write is ALWAYS a pleasure to read!! Thanks sooo very much for opening your heart to all of us and sharing some wonderful food and family memories. That is EXACTLY what I was hoping for!! So many wonderful people (Chowers) have shared stories like this, and I feel blessed to read them. I get the "warm fuzzies" reading these threads and then it makes me think of more fond memories.

                                                                                      What you wrote made me recall the 'encounter' that I experienced a few days ago while baking some fruit pies. Of all the things I've cooked and baked, I've never made a 2-crust fruit pie. I'm not sure why, maybe b/c I never thought mine would ever be as delicious as my Auntie J's. She made these truly amazing strawberry pies! Unfortunately, she passed away before I had the opportunity to glean from her some of her wonderful recipes, especially her "famous" strawberry pie. If you recall, I wanted a recipe for a 2-crust strawb pie and was having a difficult time finding one that used the ingredients I wanted.

                                                                                      I finally did find a recipe for a blackberry pie, and since I had a bunch of blkberries, I thought I'd try making that one first. As I was making the blackberry pie, I followed the recipe to a "T". I felt pretty confident about the pie, so I popped it in the oven.

                                                                                      However, when it came to start the strawberry pie, I still didn't have a recipe for that, so I figured I'd just wing it. Then I recalled my Mommers saying to me that my Auntie J always advised "It never hurts to add vanilla (extract) when baking." So, I did. I then felt guided to use raw sugar instead of fine white. Then I felt compelled to use less sugar and more corn starch. I had no idea why I kept experimenting, b/c if I have never made something before (esp. when baking) I stick to the recipe verbatim. In this case, though, the whole time I felt like I was not alone in the kitchen while I was making this strawberry pie. Once both pies were baked and fully cooled, I tried a bite of each. First I tried the blkberry-it was good, but too juicey. Then I bit into the strawberry pie. In an instance I had this wonderful picture of my Mommers and my Auntie Jane standing in her kitchen-both of them laughing and giggling and eating her strawberry pie. (My Mom and she were sisters, but more importantly best friends. They were so full of love and joy.) Wow! It tasted JUST LIKE HERS! I KNEW she must have been guiding me all the way through the process. I could sense my Auntie and Mom looking down from Heaven in approval. That's when I knew that I definately had some help from above! It brought tears to my eyes and then I smiled because I felt my Mom and Auntie's presence in my home, and knew they had helped me through the whole process. I now believe I have the recipe-Heaven sent!

                                                                                      1. re: Mermazon

                                                                                        Isn't that wonderful!! (I do remember your request - I posted a strawberry pie recipe for you - I think it was yesterday - and looked through 5 more books last night.)

                                                                                        If you don't mind sharing your new-found old strawberry pie recipe, I would love it.

                                                                                        I also think it's funny because some of my nieces call me Auntie J!!!!

                                                                                        1. re: luv2bake

                                                                                          Yes, I will be glad to give you the recipe! I have been trying to get over this darned bronchitis so I haven't been in the kitchen a lot lately. However, once I'm "mended", I'll be happy to put it on here. "Chow" for now! O=;)

                                                                                          1. re: Mermazon

                                                                                            Take your time. I'm not in a rush.

                                                                                            I had some GREAT strawberries this weekend at a meeting I had. Oh, my gosh. I'm ready for spring!!!

                                                                                    4. In our back yard in Fresno in the 50s and 60s we had grapefruit, naval oranges, Japanese pears, kumquats, pomagranite (the first thing I ever planted), avocado, pecans, walnuts, almonds, a big asparagas patch (fresh thin spears from patch to kitchen!), rabbits, bantum chickens (pets!). We would run barefoot all summer--at the risk of stepping on puncture vines. We would have to water everything, and the memory of the taste of tap water from a hose on a 100 degree F plus day might still be my favorite drink.

                                                                                      The "fish man" from Central Fish would come with a refrigerator truck to Japanese families in Fresno. We got fish and other Japanese goods--this at a time when the hakujins called shoyu "bug juice" and I had to face kids at school who last night had seen on TV one GI holding off 10,000 buck-toothed, bespectacled "japs."

                                                                                      We picked fruit and berries when and where available; and mom and the aunties would can and jam everything. "Auntie" Kiyo next door would make the best ume boshi (of which I consumed the last quite long after her death). Mom and the aunties could cook food from anywhere--in part by having worked for others as maid-cooks as they put themselves through university (before being put in the concentration camps) and in part because Fresno had many, many real "ethnic" restaurants since the 1930s. The central Valley attracted agricultural migrants from everywhere and everyone had to have their restaurants.

                                                                                      All of the cousins had to learn to cook, and other than my brother, we all did. Each of our separate families always to the degree possible ate three sit down meals together per day. Food was love then, as it is now. And we all loved food. We ate well though lower-middle class by income standards.

                                                                                      I picked boysenberries as a little kid, then worked on one of the two family farms (peaches), and later on "Old Man Bennedeti's" fig farm way out in the Valley beyond Madera--for $12.43 a day for what ended up being a 13 hour day in 115 degree F heat. Work was with guys like Joey Burelli who could artistically place the f*&k between every other word in a sentence. Working as farm labor makes you want to do one thing--get out. And I couldn't eat figs for years. That led to being a fry cook, baker, the Forest Service; while university led to math and biochemistry, then anthropology, which led me back to agronomy and back to agriculture and food at the international level.

                                                                                      In the same passage, bikes and BB guns led to motorcycles, cars, girlfriends, wives--while cooking and eating with friends and loved ones has remained a constant.

                                                                                      My loving, hardworking folks are now quite long gone; and the house was covered by a freeway almost as long ago.

                                                                                      2 Replies
                                                                                      1. re: Sam Fujisaka

                                                                                        Sam, Sounds like you've led an interesting life. We sometimes take for granted the little things. Thanks for sharing.

                                                                                        1. re: othervoice

                                                                                          Thank you! I guess that sometiimes we take our own lives for granted until given a chance to reflect.

                                                                                      2. Helping my mom make giant jars of kimchee on the deck. Peeling THOUSANDS of cloves of garlic and making faces at the fish sauce. Wait a minute... my mom still has me peeling the garlic...

                                                                                        1 Reply
                                                                                        1. Odd, but as a child I would not eat much. Now I'll eat anything. Only things my mother could get me to eat until I was 7 were:

                                                                                          spinach pastina w/ sugar and butter
                                                                                          friendly's hot dogs for breakfast (yes, breakfast)
                                                                                          fried clams
                                                                                          chicken fingers
                                                                                          her world famous banana bread w/ chocolate chips
                                                                                          oh, my dad got me to eat his pacman eggs

                                                                                          1. Wow. Brings back so many memories from around the time we immigrated to the States. Sorry, mostly fast food. But we were immigrants!

                                                                                            1) A now obsolete practice in Korea probably due to way-too-numerous scorching of little children: making burnt-sugar with baking soda candies with my brothers in little shack-like tents holding a metal ladle over an open fire. People actually had these stations set up around the city and for a few cents, you could play pastry chef. They had all different kinds of cookie cutter shapes. Sugary, creative and dangerous. Kids loved them!

                                                                                            2) My dad bringing McDonald's packaging from the States back to Korea. My mom would try to mimic the french fries she'd never tasted but just heard about, and put them into the packages. She also made fried sticks of American white bread, tossed them with sugar, and also put them in the Big Mac or Large Fries containers. Later when we came to the states, I asked her to make them for me, but they had lost their magic...

                                                                                            3) "Whopper beats the Big Mac." Standing in long lines at Burger King so we could get a free Big Mac when we said that line. Free food? We LOVE AMERICA!

                                                                                            4) Apple-picking for the first time. Again, all-you-can-eat apples? We LOVE AMERICA!

                                                                                            5) Little Caesar's pizza and the crazy bread.

                                                                                            6) The ice cream truck. Anyone remember Eddie Murphy's "Delirious?"

                                                                                            3 Replies
                                                                                            1. re: yumyumyogi

                                                                                              "I got some 'ise ceam' and you can't have it, and you can't have it, and you can't have it! "

                                                                                              1. re: Mermazon


                                                                                                "you dropped your ice cream, you dropped your ice cream"

                                                                                                Oh, man, that dude can make me laugh!

                                                                                            2. When my mom was making a pie she would roll out a little dough for us, put some butter and cinnamon sugar on it and bake it. I little insta-treat.

                                                                                              6 Replies
                                                                                              1. re: 4rx318

                                                                                                I was about post the same thing, we called them doohickeys. I don't think my mom ever got away making a pie and not making doohickeys.

                                                                                                some other childhood mem.

                                                                                                grandmother would make this really meat paste type stuff we would eat on saltines. I think she would grind up chicken ham pickles cream cheese... ??? i really don't know but it was damn good.

                                                                                                also, whenever my grandmother made flan she would make merengue cookies with the leftover egg whites.

                                                                                                my grandfather would always make me tang when I was visiting. It was a treat since we never had it at home :)

                                                                                                1. re: amopdx

                                                                                                  Yeah, we had some stuff at camp that we never had at home. I went every summer on Lake Erie - wonderful. Two big camp food memories we never had at home:

                                                                                                  Tang, which my mom NEVER bought
                                                                                                  peanut butter & pickle sandwiches. Never made them at home, only camp. Loved them.

                                                                                                  1. re: amopdx

                                                                                                    We always have Tang every year at my Great Aunt Wanda's house for Christmas Eve... one year, she forgot the Tang!!! My Aunt Cindy and I went all over town looking for a store that was open and carried Tang- I think we ended up paying $6.00 for it at Walgreen's... it just wasn't going to be the same without it! She hasn't forgotten it ever again!

                                                                                                    1. re: Katie Nell

                                                                                                      Ah, Tang...it really does inspire a lot of great memories for many people! (BTW-your dog licking the dishes is classic. What a cutie! O=;)

                                                                                                  2. re: 4rx318

                                                                                                    My mom made bumblebees with the leftover pie crust after the pie. (She didn't make a lot of pies, so it was a pretty rare treat.) Same as what you said, only she would then roll up the dough and slice it before baking it.

                                                                                                    1. re: 4rx318

                                                                                                      We had that too! I always thought it was an upstate NY thing b/c everyone in my family does it for their kids. I'm 31 and I still like it, my kids fight me for it.

                                                                                                    2. Kettle's in Tokyo for my first potato pancakes, club sandwiches,and apple strudel. Strange to have those first experiences in Japan ca 1951 but memorable

                                                                                                      1. My mother made watermelon rind preserves every summer, and it was phenomenal! I've looked for versions of this in specialty stores but only found the savory version.