Meals at Grandma's

March 21, 2020

Meals at grandma's usually consisted of eggs with toast, bacon or sausage for breakfast.  Occasionally I would beg for Mapo (maple flavored oatmeal), but most of the time when I had cereal it was Cream of Wheat or bran buds.  Grandpa made his own sausage and it was the best.  On special occasions, Grandma would make me pancakes and I just loved pancakes with Grandpa's sausage.

Lunch was usually peanut butter and jelly, or peanut butter mixed with honey.  Because Grandma would bake homemade bread, it would be on her bread.  But, when there wasn't any of her home made bread it was Wonder Bread.

Grandma would save and wash the Wonder Bread bags to use for storing leftovers or putting her bread in it to keep it from drying.  The bags were washed in the sink with soap and water, and hung up to dry.  When the outside was dry, she'd turn them inside out to dry.

We had no Ziploc bags, it was either reused bread bags, paper bags form the grocery store, waxed paper or aluminum foil.  No Saran wrap.  No Tupperware. 

Dishwashers were what rich people had, and microwave ovens hadn't been invented yet.  The kitchen tools were mostly hand operated except for the new Sunbeam Mixmaster Mixer.

Usually came dinner time Mom would have picked me up and taken me home.  At home the thing I remember most about meals before we moved away from Pocatello was frozen food reheated in the oven or on the stove.

Sunday dinners at Grandma's usually consisted of a roast of some sort -- either pork or beef, and accompanied by potatoes -- mashed or baked, a vegetable -- usually green beans, peas or carrots from the garden, celery or carrot sticks and bread rolls.  Grandpa would cook the meat, Grandma would do the rest.  It was always a sit-down dinner and usually with other family, like Uncle George and Aunt Katherine (Grandma's brother and his wife), Mom and Dad (if he were around), and other Aunts and Uncles when they were visiting.

Manners were expected at the table, and the meal always started with a prayer.  No elbows on the table, or talking with your mouth full, and if you needed to get up, you asked to be excused.

Some of the best flavors I remember where Grandma's jams and jellies, Grandpa's horseradish, Grandma's chili sauce, and the crispy fat on the outside of the roasts.  People would fight over who got the last bit of that crispy fat on the roast.  To this day, I still love fat crisped up like that.

Of course, Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners would have the traditional turkey with cranberry sauce.  The turkey was always stuffed and it was the best stuffing every.  Candied sweet potatoes with brown sugar and marshmallows melted on top were too good to be considered a vegetable for this little kid.  But, it all tasted good.

Grandma would take celery sticks and fill them with peanut butter, and then another tray of them filled with Kraft bottled white cheese with pimentos.   There would be a big bowl of black olives as well as green ones too.

It was a feast and everyone would leave the table saying something I thought, as a child, was the dumbest thing every.  They'd say, "I'm too stuffed for dessert.  Let's wait until dinner settles."

I'd think to myself, "Is that even possible?  How can you NOT have room for pie and ice cream?"  I just couldn't imagine it.

Then, when we finally had dessert they'd say something else I couldn't fathom.   They'd say, "Oh, this is just too rich.  I don't think I can finish it."

I remember thinking, "What is wrong with these adults.  Is this some sort of trick to make me thing they aren't going to have more so I don't ask for more?"

It was no surprise to me that none of them ever said,  "Here, Brent, can you finish my pie.   I'm just too full."

Nope, never happened.

When it came to candy, once a year Aunt Lorna and Uncle Mack would send a crate of oranges and a box of See's Candy from California.  Two things that were very scarce in Pocatello in the early 1960's.  Both were appreciated treats.

Grandma also had a crystal candy dish with hard candies.  (Yuck)  Occasionally, I'd ask for one, but most of the time when I wanted candy I'd ask for some pennies and walk down to Del Monte's to buy whatever I want.

Del Monte's had a candy divided in to sections - 1 cent, 2 cents, a nickle and dime.  Penny candy was things like jaw breakers, gum balls, hard candy, Hershey's kisses, etc.  2 cent candy was stuff like Snaps, candy necklaces, big Charms suckers.  Nickle candy was stuff like Idaho Spuds, 7-up bars, Snickers, Milky Way, and all the good chocolate stuff.  Dime candy were the even bigger chocolate bars.

My favorite candy bars were Mars Bars, 7-up (7 different fillings in a break-apart bar) and Chocolate covered Cherries.  Sometimes I'd buy an Almond Joy because my Mom liked them and there were two pieces so I could share.  My go-to candy bar, however, were Mars Bars.  My go-to other candy were Snaps or licorice ropes (They were a nickle for 3'.)

When it came to beverages, Grandma and Grandpa usually had canned orange juice (which I thought was too sour), Koolaid or milk.  Soda pop was a real treat, and usually Shasta brand because it was the cheapest.  If you were outside playing it was, "Get a drink from the hose... and don't forget to shut off the water when you're done."

It was no big deal to knock on a stranger's door when you were playing (if you were playing away from home) and ask, "Can we get a drink out of your hose?"  They'd usually say yes.  As kids, we'd lap water with our tongues after scooping it in our hands from a puddle of clear rain water.  (I would not advise that now, and adults frowned upon it then.)

I look back at my early childhood and wonder how I survived drinking from puddles and garden hoses, but I did.  Life and food were both big adventures.

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