“Plain food is quite good enough for me. “

More fall-like weather followed last night’s rainstorm. Today is in the 60’s and the rest of the week will be the same. I went back to my sweatshirt this morning. The day is a bit dark though no rain is predicted. Every day is closer to the end of deck time. That makes me melancholic.

This morning I had a library board meeting, the last entry on this week’s dance card. I thoroughly enjoyed last week’s empty card except I did have that cleaning frenzy, now gone thank God, so this week looks like a lie on the couch and read week. Maybe I’ll add a few bon-bons.

The sun has just decided to make an appearance. It has that sharpness that comes on a cool day when the sun is just light, not warmth. Β I can see it glinting through the leaves. The bird feeders by the deck are in shadow now, a consequence of the changing angle of the sun. If I never went outside, I would still know the time of year by following the path of the sun.

When I was a little kid, I liked fall but I disliked the shorter days because we’d only have a little time to be playing outside after school before homework and dinner. In the summer we’d be outside until close to seven and even later. This time of year five was pushing it and four was more likely. We’d come in, plop down in the front of the TV and watch Superman and The Mickey Mouse Club while my mother cooked supper. We always had a vegetable, usually from a can, mashed potatoes and some sort of meat. My mother was a whiz with hamburger. Her meatloaf was spectacular with ketchup on the top and bacon over the ketchup. We used to fight to get the crispy bacon strips. She’d also make hamburger in gravy over mashed potatoes and American chop suey. One of our favorites wasΒ a pseudo-Chinese dish with bamboo shoots and hamburger. That one always seemed exotic. We’d also have chicken, but my mother always baked it. Roast beef was reserved for Sunday dinner. The only fresh vegetable I remember eating was carrots, and I didn’t like carrots until I was older. I wanted canned Le Seuer peas and could eat them every night. For my last family meal before leaving for Ghana, I chose roast beef, mashed potatoes with gravy and Le Seuer peas. I chose comfort food.

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18 Comments on ““Plain food is quite good enough for me. “”

  1. Bob Says:

    My mother also cooked similar to your mother. In those days going out to eat at a Chinese or Italian restaurant was real treat. The TV dinner had just made its debut in the mid 50s with great sales success but not much taste. In those days a career woman in the was a rare sight. Woman of our mother’s age were expected to marry, have kids, keep the house and cook homemade meals.

    My father was a traveling salesman for a company based in NYC. They had a woman sales manager who traveled around the country to work with the salesman. She was in her early 50s, I think. She came to Dallas for a visit in about 1955 and came to our house for dinner. My mother remarked to my father how sad this woman’s life must be without a husband and children. Of course in those days the thought that she might be gay or just enjoyed having a career without a husband or kids was unthinkable.

    BTW we are having meat loaf, mashed potatoes and a salad for dinner tonight. When my mother was alive my father insisted on her serving a green tossed salad every night. He was convinced that if you didn’t eat fresh vegetables you would get Pellagra.

    • katry Says:

      Bob,
      We seldom went out out eat, too expensive, except once or twice a year to a restaurant called Kitty’s which served mostly Italian food. The plates were always heaped. It is still open and still serving heaping plates of food.

      You’re right-I didn’t know a single mother who worked outside the home when I was growing up.

      I didn’t know any unmarried adult women either. All of the ones I knew had children and families, not like now. I know other women my age who chose not to marry and others who are openly gay because they can be.

      Okay, I’d want an invite to dinner if I were close. The salad would just have to substitute for the peas!

      I can’t remember us ever having salads except maybe potato salad for picnics or trips to the beach. My parents were never salad people and seldom served them even when we were all adults home visiting.

      I like salads.

      • Bob Says:

        I think the salad aversion is because our grandparents or great grandparents came from Northern Europe. My father told me that if my grandmother served raw vegetables to my grandfather he would say, “What do you think I’m a horse?” πŸ™‚

        When my father started traveling in the South he was always served a salad before the main course in restaurants and he liked veggies. That’s when my mother started serving tossed green salads with dinner in our house.

      • katry Says:

        Bob,
        Both sides of my family are Irish and I think my grandparents were never salad eaters so they passed that along to my parents. Even when it came with dinner when we went out, they didn’t order one. My mother loved fresh salad veggies and my father was a tomato fan but not altogether.

  2. Birgit Says:

    Dear book expert, I need your help.
    About a year ago you wrote about a book you were reading, but I can’t remember the title. All I still know is that it was a book about books (perhaps also about traveling?) with a strange name-title, it was quite popular and everyone on KTCC who had read it liked it. From your description I wanted to read it too, but it wasn’t translated at that time. I hope it is now, but without author or title I can neither check nor find my probably saved link. Problem. Do you have a clue which book it might have been?

    • katry Says:

      Birgit,
      I have wracked my brain and can’t come up with the title. It totally draws a blank. Maybe another KTCC regular will come up with it!

      Sorry!

      • Birgit Says:

        Finally I found the title: Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore. My description was very poor, thanks for trying nonetheless. Still no translation available, so I have to wait or look for the English book.

      • katry Says:

        Good job, Birgit, as I doubt I would have remembered. I’m sorry it isn’t yet translated.

  3. olof1 Says:

    63,3F hare today and I can’t remember if it has been that warm in October before. Too bad I had to work all day πŸ™‚

    As You know by know my mother has never been a whiz in the kitchen πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ But come to think of it she did really delicious cabbage rolls and a deacent meat loaf but bacon was never a part of it I’m afraid. That is something I’ve only seen on photos from the USA.

    She also had this thing for mashed turnips and pork knuckles and that we had often. I still can’t eat mashed turnips πŸ™‚ Just the smell makes me sick πŸ™‚ But we did always have fresh vegetables like tomatos and carrots, peas always came from a can though.

    Have a great day!
    Christer.

    • katry Says:

      Christer,
      That is just a bit lower than we are here. You are having the best fall!!

      Putting bacon on it was not an every cook thing. Most times I’ve had it some where else the top was just a top with nothing on it. I do the same thing as my mother did. I really love the bacon.

      The pork knuckles would never make it on my table. They even sound disgusting. Turnips I love, but we usually had them only on Thanksgiving. My mother used to mix the carrots in the potatoes so we’d eat them. I used to think potatoes were white and orange.

  4. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    My mother was not a good cook. She overcooked all meat and vegetables so everything was grey. However, she made the best potato salad, turkey stuffing and apple crisp. I know how she did the first two but never got the recipe for the last one. All I know is that you have to cut the butter into the sugar and flour with two table knives or it won’t work. That’s what she said. I tried it with a pastry cutter and it didn’t work so she must have been right. πŸ™‚

    My mother worked when I was a kid. Most of the kids I knew had mothers that worked. She worked 8AM to 3PM and got laid off during the summer up until I was 10 and then she worked full time. That was 1959. She didn’t much like being a mother but she did it well enough. She liked working.

    When I was a kid, I liked fall and hated February. February was just one month too many of winter. Some decades later, after I got a horse and rode out of a barn with no indoor ring, I hated November and loved February. November was the beginning of the long dark tunnel through winter when there was no light to ride by after work. February was the light at the end of the tunnel. There was enough daylight left after work to get a bit of a ride in if I gave my horse a quickie grooming and a quick tack up. πŸ™‚

    It’s time for ice cream and cookies and maybe some wine.

    Enjoy the rest of your evening.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      My mother was a good cook. As we got older, she cooked a wider variety of food as we had become riskier in trying foods. One of my favorite memories is spending the days before Christmas baking with her.

      I didn’t know any mothers who worked in those days. My father would have been horrified if my mother wanted to work. Those were the days of men at work and women at home. She was a great mother.

      I liked February because we had a week’s vacation. That alone made it a great month. I don’t think I liked or disliked one month over another though December was big because of Christmas.

      That sounds perfect!

      Have a great evening!! Enjoy your treats!

  5. im6 Says:

    I don’t remember when my mother DIDN’T work. But that’s not what’s so remarkable. That belongs to the fact that she managed to work AND put the most delicious meals on the table. She was a great cook. Nothing fancy, but delicious comfort food. I don’t know how she did it. When I cook a meal like she did (and she did this every night after working all day), it takes me forever and totally exhausts me. I guess it probably exhausted her as well, but she never complained. Of course, in those days there weren’t many fast food places and eating out was usually reserved for Friday or Saturday nights and after church on Sunday. Luckily, I spent a lot of time watching (and helping) her cook, so I’m a pretty good cook. Like her, nothing fancy, but authentic country cooking. I feel sorry for many kids today who know nothing but frozen meals, fast food or out of a can. And you can see the consequences by the incredible number of kids today who are obese (or fast on their way there). That’s if they’re lucky and come from families who can afford to eat out rather than whatever they can scrounge together with their food stamp money. I have so much to be thankful for!

    • katry Says:

      im6,
      I have always admired women who work outside the house, raise children and keep the homes fires burning, so to speak. The are almost magical in their juggling skills.

      My mother too was a wonderful cook and made the best comfort food, the kind that brings back memories of home.

      We seldom ate out; my parents didn’t have much money. It was a huge occasion when we did. We mostly had staycation before the term was coined. We’d do something neat every day. That’s when we went out to eat, once a year usually, and always Italian.

      I never was interested in cooking until I was in Ghana. There I had to fend for myself with the merest of ingredients. I even made sugar cookies for the first time, and they were delicious. I got hooked on cooking, and when I got home, it became a favorite of mine. It still is. I love planning meals and choosing dishes.

      Like you I have to much to be thankful for, and I am every single day.

      • im6 Says:

        I enjoy cooking. Probably only a little less than I enjoy eating! I figure that’s why I learned to cook at my mom’s side. Turns out it was a pretty good idea!

      • katry Says:

        im6,
        I love to try no dishes when I have company, I have been lucky that the dishes seem to come out really well. I’m already thinking a few theme parties for with winter. Hawaii comes to mind. I’ll hunt dow recipes and hope they come out just fine.

      • im6 Says:

        Hawaii will be easy! SPAM

        From Wikipedia:

        The residents of the state of Hawaii consume the most Spam per capita in the United States (the attached link says they consume 7 million cans a year). Hawaiian Burger King restaurants began serving Spam in 2007 to compete with the local McDonald’s chains. In Hawaii, Spam is so popular it is sometimes referred to as “The Hawaiian Steak”. One popular Spam dish in Hawaii is Spam musubi, where cooked Spam is combined with rice and nori seaweed and classified as onigiri.

        The perception of Spam in Hawaii is very different from that on the mainland. Despite the large number of mainlanders who consume Spam, and the various recipes that have been made from it, Spam, along with most canned food, is often stigmatized on the mainland as “poor people’s food”. In Hawaii, similar canned meat products such as Treet are considered cheaper versions of canned meat than Spam. This is a result of Spam having the initial market share and its name sounding more convincing to consumers.

        More info: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/Menuism/why-do-hawaiians-love-spam-so-much_b_1901306.html

  6. katry Says:

    im6,
    Strangely enough, I knew this. It is just one of those useless facts my head holds onto.

    My father loved Spam the whole of his life. He started eating it in WWII. Often he would fry it up with eggs for breakfast and eat it between two pieces of bread for lunch, always added mustard, the yellow kind. I, however, was never a fan. It always seemed to be the real mystery meat we joked about in school.

    I didn’t realize McDonald’s and Burger King served it in Hawaii. I just can’t imagine ordering it anywhere.


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