Monday, February 23, 2009

Of Folks and Foodways

You'll notice on my menus that Monday is always a leftover day. I make it a point to make a little extra when cooking our weekend meals so that I don't have to start out the week worrying about supper tonight. It's a time and energy saver.

Monday: (leftover) Meatballs, Onion pie
Tuesday: Mexican lasagna
Wednesday: leftovers
Thursday: Breaded fish sandwiches, oven fries
Friday: Pasta with cherry tomatoes and mozzarella
Saturday: A very busy day, so something quick!

And as usual, everything is served with a green salad. Over the weekend I made a chocolate cream pie for dessert. Later this week I'm going to do a retro favorite from every one's childhood- banana vanilla wafer pudding!

One moment that my husband and I repeatedly laugh over is the memory of me biting into his aunt's blueberry pie for the first time. As that taste hit my tongue, my mouth puckered inwards and my teeth practically shattered in bitterness, just as his aunt was saying "I don't hardly use any sugar, at all."
You have GOT to be kidding me, I thought. What is going on here?
As my Mister's family lined up for a slice of the aunt's coveted pie, all I could do was pawn my slice off on my husband and shake my head.
"No sugar at all? Who would brag about that? That's just sick," I told my husband in private later.
"That's how we like it," he explained. He went on to say that although he loved my baking and finds anything I make to be just delicious, there was a special spot in his family's heart for Aunt D-'s tart, sugarless, blueberry pie.

I skipped all the rhetoric about how my mother actually had a pie business for while, and how a professional chef once told her it was the best blueberry pie he ever tasted, and how you do need some sugar in any fruit pie, and how if Aunt D- ever needed to make money she wouldn't be able to do it by baking pies. The latter is a laughable thought since my husband's aunt and uncle are comfortably retired, but you get the point. Anyway, it caused me to reflect on other traditions my Mister's family seemed to have at family suppers that were new to me, such as the lasagna.

The lasagna first appeared at a Thanksgiving meal, looking terribly out of place among the more typical offerings. I kept looking around the room trying to figure out which of his relatives were Italian, but the answer is nobody. Having only heard of having an Italian entree as a supplement to Thanksgiving from a friend with a very Italian mother, I got a real kick out of that meat-and-pasta dish appearing at family functions. And the same aunt that makes the awful pie can really make a killer lasagna.

Of course, there was plenty for my husband to get used to with my family's meals, as well. Mainly, the militant punctuality with which supper time is set. Really, it is preferable to be dead than to arrive late to my mother's house, and being dead is the only excuse for lateness. Oh, and then there is the somewhat nutty table conversation. But dessert is always sweet and errant pasta dishes never appear.

And I can be forever grateful that my husband never knew Aunt Betty. Our family has gotten a lot of multi-generational mileage out of quoting our salty Aunt Betty, she of the indelicate observation. But Aunt Betty's real talent was for cooking a meal so plain, bland, and tasteless that it was downright memorable. Aunt Betty rarely ate and didn't much care for food. That may have been the root of the problem.
"Some days, I forget to eat," she once said with craggy disdain. And a new quote was born. What can I say, she was so unlike the rest of us!


  1. I am sure the sugar cane growers of America are shaking their heads. Yuck.

    You have to tell me how the Onion pie went. That seems like a whole lot of onion.

    My shepherd's pie was a little bland. I had helpers and forgot to add garlic. Besides sneaking flax seed into everything, I put in lots of garlic when I cook. Can never have enough garlic.

    Word verification: Weedin Glad it is not that time of year yet.

  2. What a good eye you have- you're right, in my onion pie I actually use about 2 cups of sliced onion (1 large) and only about a cup of cracker crumbs. I like to use a round buttery type cracker that begins with the letter "R." Also, before putting it in the over, I sprinkle some paprika on top, and when it comes out, I sprinkle it with fresh parsley.

    I use garlic in shepherd's pie, too. Garlic makes everything taste better! Does flax seed have some particular benefit?

  3. I am giggling at all the differences between the families at get togethers concerning foods. LOL NO SUGAR??? Is that woman crazy??? LOL My neice is realizing her new hubby's family is a little odd from ours in family dinners as well. At Christmas, they had tacos. Just because they wanted them.

    With hubby's family and mine, it goes like family knows how to cook good real homecooking down home fattening sugary goodness. LOL His family um....well they can make hamburger helper....maybe even take a pie out of a cardboard container and bake it...but I wouldn't call it cooking. LOL Not much comparison.

    Loved reading this blog. I giggled several times.

    God's Blessings,
    Amy Jo

  4. Such a fun post! I'd love to hear more "Aunt Bettyisms"!


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