Monday, November 17, 2014

School Days Food Memories

(I published these two posts dated November 17th in the wrong order, I guess.  I thought this longer one would follow the introduction, but no.  Please excuse the "newbie" mistake.)

About two weeks ago A HALF BAKED LIFE had a delightful post about food memories entitled "The Breakfast Treats".  It was a wonderful post and it immediately brought to mind childhood food memories of my own. With many thanks to A HALF BAKED LIFE for the inspiration, I have posted my own special childhood food memory,

It was the 1956-57 school year.  My cousin J and I walked home for lunch everyday from our respective schools.  J from the 9th grade at the Junior High School (as it was called back then) and me from the 6th grade at the Elementary School.  Neither of us actually went "home".  We went to our maternal grandmother's house.  Our good fortune was that Grandma S lived one city block from J's school and 4 blocks (in the other direction) from mine.

Every school day around 12:10 I would come bounding up the two flights of stairs eager to see if Grandma was serving our favorite lunch. J would already be there and would be tuning the big table radio to her favorite Rock and Roll station.  There was always a chance we could hear Elvis (sigh) or one of our favorite songs.

What was for lunch?  Sometimes it was just a Tuna Salad Sandwich and some Campbell's (was there any other kind?) Chicken Gumbo Soup.  But about every 2 or 3 weeks we would find our absolute favorite menu waiting for us:

Lynden's Chicken Tamale
This was a product that Grandma should have purchased in bulk!  It was easy to cook, just remove the paper label, heat the can in a pot of boiling water for about 3 minutes, remove the pot from the stove and cool it under running water in the sink. When it was cool enough to be handled, the can was set upright on a plate and opened, with a hand can opener. Then the can was turned upside down and the other end was opened and the tamale was ready to slide out of the can.  Getting the tamale out of the can all in one piece was almost as satisfying as eating it!  J and I each received half.  And it was always sliced length wise because the shredded chicken was at the bottom.

Sometime in the 60s or 70s Lynden Chicken Tamales disappeared from store shelves.  Lunch would never be the same again.

Home Grown Raspberries
These Raspberries came from vines in Grandma's backyard (and hand picked by us during the summer).  So many of those succulent berries never made it to the basket.  The berries that did make the cut were home canned by Grandma and whichever little helper she could roundup at canning time. As a result, there were jars and jars on shelves in the cellar.  Besides the Raspberries, there were Pears, and two different kinds of Cherries all from trees in the backyard. We were in charge of the picking which also included the wild Blackberries that grew on the sides of the lane behind the garage.  They were good for when the Raspberries were depleted.  :)

No meal was complete without the "required" glass of milk.  This was milk that came from dairy to doorstep and was delivered in glass bottles with heavy cream on top.  So good.

At that time, almost everyone had a Milkman.  Grandma's brought milk, cottage cheese, butter and eggs.  I don't remember the name of the dairy, but I do remember that the cottage cheese came in metal bowls that were in bright primary colors with a metallic tint to them.  We saved those bowls for years, they moved everywhere with us, and we used them throughout the 60s and 70s in such far-flung places as Alaska and California.  (Those bowls were indestructible!)

In addition to the Milkman, Grandma S had a Breadman.  Cinnamon Swirl was my favorite. Yum!
My mother, her daughter, bought our bread from the Commissary on Post.  It just wasn't the same, as I often and loudly complained.  My pleas fell on deaf ears.

Homemade Oatmeal Raisin and/or Peanut Butter cookies.  The cookies were stored in a very large cookie jar made in the likeness of Friar Tuck, you know, from Robin Hood.  This cookie jar had been in the same spot, according to my mother, since she was a child. It never held "store bought" cookies.  No "cardboard" cookies (as Grandpa S called them) for us. We were so sheltered.

Looking back now, I understand that this was a "Golden Interlude" in our lives.  We didn't know, but change was coming.  Nothing would ever be quite the same. Never again would our families live in the same city (at the same time) as our grandparents. When J and I talk these days and the conversation goes back to our childhood (as it often does) we talk about those lunches, Grandma and Grandpa S and the house on 31st Avenue.  We've both said that if we could choose our "last meal" it would be the Lynden Chicken Tamale, the glass of milk (from the glass bottle), the dish of Grandma's home canned Raspberries and the homemade cookies (Peanut Butter for me - Oatmeal Raisin for J) and, of course, they would be waiting for us in the Friar Tuck cookie jar.  And somewhere, Elvis would still be singing in the background.

Introduction to Food Memories

#Microblog Monday

I haven't been very faithful to the spirit of #MicroBlog Monday.  I never think I'm going to have much to say and then before I know it I have 800 words on the page.  So this little paragraph is just the marker to point the way to my longer post.  I owe many thanks to A HALF BAKED LIFE for her food memory post, "The Breakfast Treats", which was the inspiration for mine. 

If you would like to read my actual food post, it is published in my blog as a regular post, and is next in line after this one.  Thanks to all who journey with me down Memory Lane.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Looking for Information

#Microblog Monday

This morning I changed my mind about the topic of my post.  The original idea will keep for next week.

Today I am asking for your help.  I need to pick your brains, so to speak.  Most who post here have a lot of blogging experience.  I'm asking you to share some of that expertise.

My problem is this:  I have difficulty commenting from my iPhone 4.  I very rarely have access to the desktop computer, but I always have my phone with me.  I take it everywhere, even to my dialysis treatments.  As soon as I'm "hooked up" (as we say) I can use my phone with my free hand.  It makes the 3 hours less stressful to use my time reading blogs, checking email, and sometimes playing double pyramid solitaire.

While I'm reading blogs, I'm trying to comment.  Something is wrong because I have a very high failure rate.  When I hit "publish" more often than not, my comment will disappear into the Black Hole of the Internet.  I have the most trouble with WordPress blogs and this only happens when I'm trying to comment from my phone. Could it be something with security settings or privacy settings? Does the fault belong to my phone? I'm grasping at straws here.

In desperation, I've recently started searching the home pages of blogs for an email address as an alternate way of commenting,  Amazingly, not many blogs have published email addresses.  How do you let someone know you are repeatedly reading and attempting to comment on their blog if you can't locate an email address?  Sort of a vicious circle.

Any and all suggestions will be appreciated!

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

A Conversation


My favorite cousin called from Seattle on Saturday.  The exchange went something like this.  "Whatcha doin'?," she asked.  "Folding clothes", I replied. "Oh, that sounds exciting."  "Yes," I answered.  And all the while I'm thinking, "this is the sort of stimulating conversation for which cross country telephoning was invented.  Alexander Graham Bell would be so proud.

I hope the NSA wasn't eavesdropping on that particular call.  They may have thought, in their conspiracy oriented minds, that it was some sort of code.  But then, who really knows what the NSA thinks? "Frankly, my dear...", but I digress.

I just wish someone would help me find the mates to the 23 unmatched white socks (of all styles, sizes and varying shades of white, but no two alike) currently residing in my laundry basket.  Why 23?  Why not an even number?  Why not 24 or 22?  It's a mystery.

Cousin and I discussed the conundrum of the 23 socks at some length and then moved on to weightier issues.

How many unmatched socks are you harboring in your laundry basket?

Monday, October 13, 2014

Greek Food Festival Weekend


I could sum up this post with one word:  Delicious.

Our city's Greek Orthodox Church sponsors it's Greek Food Festival every year in October.  We (and the rest of the Festival-goers) wait all year for the good food that can be purchased.  This year it was Thursday the 9th, Friday the 10th, and Saturday the 11th. 

We headed out on Friday night - the line was all the way down the block.  No one was leaving.  No one was complaining.  Everyone knew it would be worth the wait.  And it was!

We each had a Dinner Combination Plate that consisted of 1) Pastitsio, 2) Spanakopita, 3) Dolmades, Meat Balls (my favorite), plus a Greek Salad, Rice Pilaf and a roll.  (Which we ate standing up at a high table while Greek dancers entertained us with their folk music and traditional dances.  It was loud, it was crowded, and we could not have cared less.)

The Greek Festival wouldn't be complete without the Greek Pastries:  1) Baklava, 2) Koulourakia, 3)Kataife and 4) Loukoumades among others.  We are Baklava lovers, but had to try a little of everything.  So we bought a sampler and shared.  Wonderful!

In addition to all the great "home cooked" Greek food, there were tours of the recently restored Church, and many other Greek items for sale - the usual, Tee-shirts, tote bags, jewelry, Orthodox religious items and Greek music CDs.

It was so good, we went back on Saturday afternoon and got dinner to go. 

I can't wait for next year!

1)  Pastitsio -  Baked macaroni layered with ground meat and cheese topping.
2)  Spanakopita - Spinach with feta cheese and herbs baked in layers of filo.
3)  Dolmades - Cooked Rice, ground beef, and herbs rolled in grape leaves and served hot. 

1)  Baklava - Pecans and spices baked in layers of filo with honey syrup.
2)  Kourabiedes - Butter cookies topped w/powdered sugar.
3)  Kataife - Shredded filo with chopped nuts, spices and honey syrup.
4)  Loukoumades - Honey puffs (think donut holes) w/cinnamon and nuts.  Served hot.