Posted tagged ‘canned vegetables’

“Strange to see how a good dinner and feasting reconciles everybody.”

March 4, 2018

My hopes are high that Coffee will be here tomorrow. If not, remember to go to www.keepthecoffeecoming.blogspot.com as I’ll be waiting there for you.

Today is damp but lighter than it has been. The sun is working to get out of the clouds. I’m its most ardent cheerleader. There is still wind which makes the day feel even colder. I think it rained during the night as the sides of the street were still wet this morning when I got the papers, the dry papers. I can’t fault a day which starts with dry papers.

When I was a kid, Sunday was always boring. It followed the same regimen every week. Eat breakfast, put on church clothes, walk to church, go home and hang around until Sunday dinner, the most lavish meal of the week. It always included a roast of some sort, potatoes and vegetables. The potatoes were mashed and the vegetables, except for the carrots, came from cans. Those fresh vegetables, the carrots and the potatoes, were always boiled. We never had salad, and we never had bread on the table. A roast of beef as my grandmother called it is still my favorite.

My mother grocery shopped on Friday nights. As she had no license, my father drove her. They’d return with a trunk load of filled paper bags. The only foods we, my brother, sisters and I, cared about were the cookies. We knew they’d be Oreos and sometimes chocolate chip cookies or some other kind. We’d want them right away, and my mother would warn us that once they were gone, they’d be no more. We were kids. We were in the moment. We wanted the cookies.

I have grown my palate since I was a kid. Canned vegetables will never grace (sort of grace) my table. I like to cook potatoes all different ways, but I love mashed potatoes covered in gravy the most. I love carrots, and I experiment when I cook them. The last recipe called for ginger. My favorite is honeyed carrots. I use the baby carrots still with their greenery.

I just heard a loud crash which seemed to come from my deck. I ran outside but saw nothing except the man in the house behind mine burning leaves in a barrel. What I saw made me laugh. The wind is taking the burning leaves, and they are falling on the carpet of leaves in the guy’s yard. Small fires start, and he goes around with his rake putting the fires out. Maybe this will teach him why burning leaves is illegal.

“It was Sunday morning, and old people passed me like sad grey waves on their way to church.”

October 15, 2017

I’m wondering where the sun is hiding. The day is damp and cloudy. It’s a quiet day, no breeze rustles the leaves and no voices are loud enough to be heard. I have to go out and do a couple of errands later and tonight is game night. That’s like a full day for me.

When I was a kid, the expectations for Sunday were pretty much nonexistent. It was a nothing day much the same week after week. It started with church. The only unknown was which mass I’d attend. Would I go early with my dad, the usher, or later by myself or with my brother? Sunday dinner was the biggest meal of the week. It was always a roast, sometimes a roast beef and other times a whole chicken. It was the one meal all week where we all sat down to eat together though my mother sometimes stood by the counter to eat. On weekdays my dad was late getting home from work so he was never there for dinner. We were usually watching TV when he got home.

Once in a while, on a Sunday afternoon, we visited my grandparents in the city. I was amazed by the city. Houses were close together. The Italian bakeries sold pizza. A house down the street sold Italian ice through an open window. On the corner of my grandparents’ street was a private club. My uncle was a member. I remember going there once for a family party.

If we didn’t go out to visit, we’d sit around watching TV until my dad took over and turned to a football game. That sent us to the kitchen to play a board game or down the cellar to play. If I had a book, I’d go read it in my room away from the noise. My mother cooked in the kitchen. She peeled potatoes and opened cans of vegetables. We usually ate around two. Most times there was no special dessert. We’d grab cookies.

Sunday night we’d watch a bit of TV then it was early to bed because of school the next day. We always grumbled. That never got us anywhere except upstairs to bed at our regular time.

“I was going to change my clothes, but I changed my mind instead.”

August 23, 2013

Today is simply beautiful, sunny and cool with a strong breeze. The nights will be delightful for sleeping: cool, even cold. Tomorrow night could be down in the 50’s. Gracie has been out all morning, and I will join her as soon as I can!

When I was a kid, I didn’t mind being dirty and sweaty. Both of those were from having a great time. My socks often slipped down in my sneaker, and I didn’t even care when I walked on the lump of a sock. I’d eventually pull up that sock, but in a short time, it would slip again. That was the way it was. I took a bath once a week, that Saturday ritual we all had. For dinner, our vegetables, except for potatoes and carrots, came from cans. I don’t remember fresh vegetables, maybe because my mother knew we would probably not eat them. She had enough trouble getting us to like carrots without pushing even more. In the summer, we’d play all day then go to bed exhausted. A bath wasn’t ever part of the nightly ritual, even in summer. I guess jumping into the sprinkler or going to the pool kept us clean enough.

We girls wore blouses, never t-shirts. Some of my blouses were sleeveless, and they were the coolest for summer, coolest in the sense of the word, the opposite of hot. We wore shorts and sometimes clam-diggers. I know why the pants were called clam-diggers, but I had never dug a clam in my life so in a way it was an odd name. We also wore dungarees, but girls’ and boys’ dungarees were different. Ours had zippers, usually in the side pocket. When I was really young, mine had elastic at the waist. Girls could wear sandals. Boys never did, too risky and too open to name-calling. My sisters wore white sandals with buckles. When I got a little older, I stopped wearing sandals and wore white sneakers instead. The sneakers usually had pointed toes, and when I was in high school, I used to polish them to keep them white. Dresses and skirts were still necessary wardrobe components.

The last time I wore a dress was Easter. My friends and I go out to a fancy restaurant every year so we get dressed up. Tony wears a suit and tie and Clare and I wear dresses. Many of the people at the restaurant are also clad in Easter finery. The few who aren’t stand out a bit. I always feel a bit outlandishly proper when I’m in a dress. It happens so seldom.

My uniform of the day almost always includes a t-shirt. At night, for a play, I do wear a regular shirt and nice pants, but not dressy pants. I don’t even own a blouse anymore. I do happen to have a pair of clam-diggers, but they are meant to be worn around the house or to the dump which doesn’t have a dress code.

“A vegetable garden in the beginning looks so promising and then after all little by little it grows nothing but vegetables, nothing, nothing but vegetables.”

July 5, 2012

It is the loveliest of mornings, sunny and cool. When I let Gracie outside, I followed her and stood on the deck for the longest time surveying my world and enjoying the start of the day. My vegetables are growing, and I need to stake my tomatoes as they are growing over the wire tomato thingies ( I don’t know what they’re called. Thingies works just as well for almost anything).

When I was growing up, the only fresh vegetable I remember eating was corn in the summer. I didn’t like tomatoes, and my mother didn’t serve salads. She knew we’d all turn up our noses. I ate canned peas, the small ones, the Le Seure peas; they were my favorite. My mother tricked us by hiding the carrots. She mashed them with the potatoes, and for years I thought potatoes were orange and white. My mother also served canned green beans, and we had to eat a few. All his life my father ate canned asparagus, long after the rest of us had found the joys of fresh vegetables. I remember my mother serving them to him at Thanksgiving. If you held up a spear, the top would fall over; they were a bit mushy. He always had the entire can to himself.

My father loved native tomatoes. Around here, when the vegetable season is at its height, people put out tables in their front yards with a variety of vegetables on them. The prices are usually on a piece of paper taped to the table and the money goes in a can. I’d load up on tomatoes and bring them up to my parents’ house when I visited. My dad would cut the tomatoes, load mayonnaise on his plate and take them into the living where he’d snack and watch TV. He always said there was nothing better than native tomatoes.

My dad would love my garden though I suspect he’d say dibs on the tomatoes!