Flashback Friday: Food

Mocha With Linda hosts a weekly meme called Flashback Friday. She’ll post a question every Thursday, and then Friday we can link our answers up on her site.

The question for this week is:

What were meals like when you were growing up? Did your mom (or dad) cook (and was it from scratch or from a box?) or did your family eat out much of the time? Did you eat together as a family or was everyone on a different schedule? What did you call meals? (Dinner vs. supper, lunch, etc.) What were some of your favorite things that your parent fixed? What did you dislike and vow never to fix once you grew up? Did your family have any food traditions, things that were a must on certain occasions (such as Sunday dinners or holiday meals)? Did your parent teach you to cook or did you wing it once you were grown? How similar or different are your family’s eating habits today than when you grew up?

When I was younger, my mom was home sometimes and worked sometimes, so meals varied. My mom was never very domestic and didn’t really like to cook, so most meals were pretty basic. There wasn’t quite as much available in prepared form, so most cooking was from scratch, though I do remember boxed macaroni and cheese and occasional “TV dinners” (with TV trays to set the meal on while we ate and watched TV, but, as I said, that was occasional.) My dad was the traditional “meat and potatoes” lover, so most dinners were a meat, a starch, and a vegetable. If he wasn’t home, Mom had a few easy recipes that I think of as “comfort food” now — spam casserole (yes, really — cut up the spam [though I use Treet, actually, I still call it spam] into cubes, brown it with onion in some margarine, add cooked noodles, a can of cream of chicken soup, and a can of cheddar cheese soup. Not healthy — but good!) or hot dogs cut up into tomato sauce, served with macaroni and cheese.

One dish we had often was beans and rice and cornbread, mainly because it was cheap. Mostly they were pinto beans, sometimes navy beans, often with sausage or ham in them. It would smell so good simmering through the afternoon. My family now isn’t crazy about beans, though they tolerate them in chili, so I haven’t made them myself in years. I can almost smell them now….

Another favorite was what she called “SOS” — ground beef in gravy over rice, usually made on the last day or so before grocery shopping when staples were low.

She also made “drop biscuits” — biscuit dough dropped by the spoonful onto a cookie sheet rather than rolled out and cut. Years later in college one restaurant nearby served them but called them “ugly biscuits.”

We didn’t have as many fresh vegetables as we should have — I think my mom just got tired of fussing with kids over them. I was a teen-ager on a date in a nice restaurant when I had the first salad I can remember.

We didn’t eat out much — it was just too expensive with so many kids. But sometimes after grocery shopping we’d go to a drive-in restaurant called Pick’s, I think, in Corpus Christi. I always got a steakfinger basket and the best chocolate shakes I can remember ever having in my life.

Living so near the coast, often get-togethers involved a big fish fry — someone would do up all the fish and other people would bring side items. They always used a cornmeal coating, which I much prefer to the heavy breaded stuff many restaurants seem to use. The only fish I’ve found in a restaurant that reminded me of what I had in childhood was at a place originally called Po’ Folks, then later just Folks, but sadly they’ve gone out of business.

We did eat all together. Lunch was “lunch,” and we used “dinner” and “supper” interchangeably for the evening meal.

Lunch was usually some type of sandwich. I liked to fry spam for sandwiches or bologna — it kind of forms into a cup when you fry it — but often it was just ham and cheese or peanut butter. If we were running low on groceries, my mom would put margarine on sandwiches instead of Miracle Whip — I always hated that!

My mom would sometimes make a snack of crackers and a mixture which I think was peanut butter and honey … maybe peanut butter and syrup … but something like that that we’d dip crackers in.

I don’t remember any certain traditional foods except the usual Thanksgiving and Christmas menu, and my dad always wanted corned beef and cabbage for his birthday dinner.

After we moved to Houston the summer I turned 16, my mom started working full time and commuting through Houston. I baby-sat the younger kids and would call my mom after school to find out what to start for dinner. She’d give me instructions on what to get started, and she’d finish up anything if needed when she got home, so I guess that’s basically how I learned to cook. I do remember some early cooking experiences with a friend when I was younger than that. One involved not having brown sugar to make cookies and thinking regular sugar would work ok, only to discover our cookies melted into each other. That was before the giant pan cookie came out that you can order and have decorated now — we should have marketed our invention! Another involved trying to make fried chicken — we’d drop the chicken into the hot oil and then run to the other side while it sizzled — I don’t know if we were afraid of getting burnt or starting a fire or what. We were probably too young to be making fried chicken unsupervised!

My step-father would often cook on weekends and was very good at it, but the only dish I can specifically remember was pepper steak.

The only thing I had as a child that I vowed never to cook was spinach or turnip greens. I had a bad experience at an aunt’s house when she made me stay at the dinner table until I ate a certain amount of whatever green stuff she served, and I think I was there all evening. However, I’ve discovered as an adult that I do like fresh spinach in salads and wraps.

And I think that’s about all I remember about my childhood food experiences, though I am sure more memories will filter in over the next few days. Visit Linda‘s to read more or share your own.

8 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: Food

  1. Ah, yes. We used Miracle Whip. Now I prefer mayonnaise but my sister likes Miracle Whip.

    My husband says cooked spinach/greens looks like something you scrape out of the bottom of your lawnmower!

    It’s fun seeing how similar and different our experiences were!

  2. Barbara, Your SOS is modified. 🙂 To be the genuine article it needs to be served on toast, which is the “shingle.” 🙂

    We had lots of prepared stuff (my mom worked full time once I was in school)– Kraft mac n cheese, TV dinners, etc.

    My Dad actually did our holiday meals, turkey, dressing etc. I still remember the little foil tent he would always build…before there were oven bags. 🙂

  3. We NEVER used Miracle Whip when I was a kid… and I am a fan of mayo to this day. (or mustard) I do like butter on a cheese sandwich – but not a meat and cheese… just cheese. However, I almost never eat just a cheese sandwich anymore! LOL!

    I should have played this today… I have a lot of food memories…

  4. I was never a Miracle Whip fan, but there are some foods that just have to have it — like Avocado sandwiches. They don’t taste right with Mayo. Amoeba prefers MW so I keep both in the house and when we have sandwiches he gets MW and I have M — unless it is a “shared” food like my homemade meat spread or tuna salad. Then Mayo goes in — after all, I’m making it!

    Out SOS was made with chipped beef. We called your version of SOS “Hamburger Gravy”. Anything gravy related is a comfort food to me!

  5. Pingback: The Hidden Art of Homemaking: Chapter 8: Food | Stray Thoughts

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