Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Favorite Childhood Foods

While dining on an appetizer of crispy, golden tater tots paired with glasses of spiced cider and handcrafted amber ales, I made the announcement "Tonight when we get home we are going to tackle the writing prompt that has been on the dining room chalkboard for the last two weeks". Moans and protests followed, but they knew I was serious.


For the past few winters we have been doing semi-nightly ten minute writing prompts. We would usually begin at Thanksgiving when our daughter, Mallory would be home from college. My husband and I would carry on once she was back at school until we could be reunited for Christmas break. This year that writing routine has been absent. The main reason is that there are no more college breaks, there is only working, eating and sleeping.


Determined to get our writing group going again, I dug through prompt writing books, and notebooks filled with ideas. I made a list of possibilities, closed my eyes and picked one. I wrote it on the chalkboard so they would know I wasn't kidding. Then life got in the way for a couple of weeks. I had two writing deadlines, one taking longer than I anticipated. Finally at the end of January everything was submitted, I was ready for my group. That readiness led to my announcement while enjoying tater tots at the local brew pub.


Our tasty snack consumed, it was time to go home and face the chalkboard. Once home, I sent everyone off to gather their notebooks and writing utensils, we reconvened in the dining room to take one last look at the prompt before beginning. I set the timer on my phone for ten minutes, pressed start and the sound of pen and pencil on paper began.

Glen and Mallory made long lists of memorable foods. Glen's consisted mainly of meat; tacos, ham and gravy, a ground beef mixture with a sweet/sour flavoring set upon half of a rusk bun, cow tongue, smoky links and fondue. Mallory's list contained typical childhood delicacies; chicken nuggets from Wendy's, hot dogs, grilled cheese, kid size chocolate syrup sundaes, chocolate shakes from Burger King, Cinnamon and Brown Sugar Poptarts and lots and lots of chocolate milk. Maybe this explains her lactose intolerance now, she overdosed on dairy as a child.


My story was different, it wasn't a list of favorite foods, it was about one specific meal - Creamed Ham, Eggs and Mushrooms in a Chafing Dish. My mother has never been a skilled chef in the kitchen. Our suppers usually consisted of Hamburger Helper, not quite baked frozen pizza, and liver and onions. This is why Creamed Ham, Eggs and Mushrooms in a Chafing Dish was so different; the fancy copper chafing dish, real ham, real mushrooms, cream of mushroom soup not just ladled into a bowl, and hard boiled eggs. We didn't have it often, but I do remember my mouth watering every time I saw Volume Six of The Women's Day Encyclopedia of Cookery sitting on the counter...

The buzz of the timer sounded. Our little family gathered together, each taking a turn to read our writing out loud. As each of us read, I marveled at how there were so many stories within simple lists, and specific meals, all derived from a ten minute writing prompt. Our first writing exercise of the year was complete.

What special foods do you remember from your childhood? I would love to hear. 

14 comments:

  1. My grandma's home made noodles. She would cook them in chicken broth and they were amazing. I recently started making my own noodles, thanks to her influence. I have her 1941 Betty Crocker Cookbook and it is one of my prized possessions. I learned a lot about cooking from her.

    I love this post! And that you made this writing exercise a family practice.

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  2. My favorite childhood food was mini cinnamon rolls that my mom would make as she baked a pie. She used the pie crust that she cut off around the edges of the pie plate. She rolled it out, sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar, re-rolled, sliced and then baked. We loved them and my mom wasted nothing!! This is such a fun prompt!

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  3. Way to get that ruler out & crack some knuckles! I love this family tradition, these are memories that live on forever!

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  4. I remember very little foods from childhood. Vegetable soup that I hated and Sunday roast beef meals. My parents were not very domestic and being #4 child of 5 spread over 16 years it was kind of fend for yourself. I usually found the Hostess Yodels my mother hid in the refrigerator. I remember eating them the most. I guess I was raised on Yodels. And we never had pizza - my husband had it every Sunday night while watching Walt Disney. So when we married I wanted it all the time and he was sick of it.

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  5. I always liked and still do... Macaroni and Cheese (scratch made with Velveeta) but now I use real cheese and just a bit of Velveeta. Also chicken Parmesan. I guess I like cheese and still do... And homemade Christmas cookies. That really started my love of baking. Thanks for the yummy memories.

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  6. So nice to start a writing habit again through prompts. Like you, I remember meals more than specific separate items. My favourite meal growing up was the Sunday Roast with all the trimmings, especially when it was roast chicken with stuffing, lots of veggies and gravy!

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  7. I'd be hard-pressed to pick just one or even a few favorite childhood foods. Mom was a wonderful cook and dinnertime was the highlight of every day. One simple food that does come to mind is grilled cheese sandwiches, which we kids made for ourselves. A thick square of Velveeta cheese, mayonnaise rather than butter, cooked on a round, cast iron griddle. When the outside was toasted, we'd open the sandwich to spread the melted cheese from edge to edge. These days I prefer real cheese and butter in my grilled cheese sandwiches, but just thinking about that other kind brings back memories of long summer days and the happy freedom we had as kids.

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  8. When my Mom and Dad were working at the family restaurant and we kids were at home, they often sent treats across the street to us (we lived behind the restaurant). My favorite, a scoop of vanilla or chocolate ice cream with ginger ale poured over top. The ginger ale, all fizzy and foamy, made the concoction look like a volcano erupting. We slurped up the sugary goodness and watched TV, often a Walt Disney program, and life felt really very good. Love you writing prompts and always a joy to read what you write and see what you photograph.

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  9. The first meal that comes to mind was my Mother's chicken fried steak and cream gravy with mash potatoes. I grew up in Texas so chicken fried steak was a staple in most households. I still make it occasionally, it was my son's pick for his birthday every year so that childhood fav carried over to the next generation. Great tradition you have with your family and writing!! Enjoyed!

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  10. What a great idea, Sarah!
    For me? My Grandma's, and then my Mom's, and now my, rice pudding.
    I still have the original recipe written by my Grandma on a well-worn piece of paper.

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  11. My Aunt that raised me made THE most wonderful Apple Cake...no icing...just sheer deliciousness!...:)JP

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  12. What a great family writing exercise. I can't believe cow tongue made it to Glen's favorite list. :) My memories of cow tongue are on the other end of the favorite food list. My mother use to freeze the cow tongue so it sat on the kitchen counter thawing out for most of the day. (Back when we left meat out for hours...) I can remember being really little with my hands up on the kitchen counter and staring at the taste buds on the cow tongue thinking where and what the tongue has tasted before it was on the counter. Needless to say I never enjoyed eating cow tongue. My favorite foods were: orange sherbet (which I would eat with a fork (?), red Kool Aid, pizza and any kind of bread. I still love the bread, sherbet and homemade pizza. :)

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  13. What fun to do a family writing prompt, and what a stimulator for some interesting conversations

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  14. I wouldn't know where to begin. I had the privilege of having a mom who came from a long line of amazing cooks. So many favorites from breakfast to dessert it would be hard and unjust to single out just one or two. What I do remember was her first attempt at Chinese sweet & sour pork. Horrible. Absolutely, unexpectedly, horrible. I was shocked when dad ate every bite on his plate and smiled at her after dinner and said it was nice, but perhaps a once a year thing. She eventually added Chinese dishes to her wheelhouse of delicacies, but that particular meal stands out in my memory because it less about the food and more about the other things that make a family dinner so important.

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Thank you so much for visiting today and taking the time to read my thoughts on life. :)