Writing 101, Day Ten: Happy (Insert Special Occasion Here)!
Tell us about your favorite childhood meal — the one that was always a treat, that meant “celebration,” or that comforted you and has deep roots in your memory.
I’m not sure where or how my mother learned to cook. She got married quite young, back in the early 1930s. Girls in her town of Mangum, Oklahoma were raised to be good homemakers. For her, cooking just seem to come naturally. She turned out wonderful meals for her family …there were two boys and me. My dad worked at that time as a housepainter…but this is getting way off course. This is about meals around her table.
Dessert always ended the meal; her fruit cobblers and pies would come from the oven bubbling with indescribable richness. She shared with me her secret method of making the pie crust. Don’t ask me to describe it…I have to keep her secret for her.
For our birthdays there would always be cake. It was usually a white cake with a cooked frosting that would adorn the cake at just the right stage to form a wonderfully gooey icing. This would be covered with grated coconut that guaranteed mouths would water. She did bake chocolate cakes, and on several occasions made what she called a burnt sugar cake. Yes, the sugar was actually burnt, cooked in butter until it caramelized into a golden brown and was mixed into cake batter. When baked it became a wonderfully toffee colored and moist cake that was then iced with a cooked icing.
She liked to make mince meat pie at Thanksgiving and Christmas. I have always had a love, hate relationship with mincemeat. Just the mention of it brings back the dense smell (It smelled of spice and mystery) so different from the light sweetness of her fruit pies. And then there is the first bite. Passion for my tongue where texture vied with the saccharine flavor. Flavor won out and I’d have a couple more bites. Then I had to force myself to finish the serving, overpower it so to speak. In the end it always got the best of me. I was glad when someone finally invented Tums.
Biscuits made from scratch without a recipe were a breakfast treat. They were light and fluffy and topped with jams and jellies(cooked and jarred in her kitchen) and served along with margarine (economic at the time). We seldom had butter.
What I remember most about our meals is we always ate together. There would be a prayer of thanksgiving and only after she made sure everyone was served, would my mother join us at the table.
Pass the mashed potatoes, please; and leave me some green beans. Oh, and be sure to leave room for dessert!