Coffee


29 Jul 2011 09:17 pm

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Life before fast food was slower.
 
It sure was a much more meandering pace for our family. For the readers who were not born during the fifties: there were no microwaves, but there were stoves and ovens and ice boxes (refrigerators). Although many women did go to work during and after World War ll, most women were still at home raising children during the early fifties.

  1. They were cooking. Cleaning. Reading cookbooks. Cracking eggs. Chasing their kids around the house outside with a switch when they didn’t behave themselves. (hmm umm)

The food may have even tasted better.
 
I remember taking my own good time at the supper table. I liked to linger and count the peas left on my plate. Make faces at my little sister. The food was pretty simple back then but it was fixed by my Mother who just happened to be one of the best cooks in the world.

Anyway, I thought so. My mother graduated from high school and married my Dad several weeks later. When I came along she was already an accomplished cook because, as she told me, she made straight ‘A’s in Home Economics.

Mother could cook anything without measuring cups or spoons but she always had her high school home economics text book on the kitchen counter which helped her to prepare wholesome, healthy meals. I always liked books even before I could read and I remember poring over the menu section. Mother never cooked duck that I can remember but I used to wonder what it tasted like. In the cookbook were menu suggestions for everyday of the week and for holidays.

I remember one menu for a January dinner:

Avocado Cocktail salad, Duck with Sauerkraut, carrot and celery souffle and Hot Mince Pie with Rum Sauce for dessert.

The only way we ate saurekraut at our house was with weiners. It wasn’t one of my favorite dishes. Being a Baptist family, household rum wasn’t consumed but I often wondered how Mince Meat Pie tasted with Rum sauce. That sounded yummy to me.

Anyway, there were, of course, grocery stores in the fifties. I remember going with my Mother a few times when I was really little but she usually managed to do that chore without us. We had chickens and ducks when we were young and I recall gathering eggs and bringing them in to the kitchen. We had a milkman who would deliver milk in glass bottles. I used to watch in a mixture of horror and awe as my mother cut up a chicken. To this day I cannot do it. I just don’t have the pioneer spirit I suppose.

We were of English/Scotch/Irish stock and when it came to the partaking of meals, we called them: breakfast, dinner and supper. No one had lunch. That was for people who lived in Missouri.

My Dad was a finicky eater so when my Mother strayed from the meat and potatoes route she received scant appreciation. She used her creative passions (and she had a lot of them) on her desserts. Mother made the best date candy, pumpkin, and apple pies, cobblers and cakes.

When the cupboard was bare Mother still managed to whip up magic with the use of a little white cornmeal, sugar, milk and hot water. I was fascinated by an old cookbook Mother inherited from her New England grandfather. I spent many hours thumbing through the cookbook to find exotic receipts such as Turtle Soup and Johnnycakes. Yes, my Mother made the Johnnycakes from the recipes she found in Grandfather Whitmarsh’s cookbook. So, it’s true, a little bit of Yankee cooking was handed down through the family.

We didn’t drink soft drinks or eat potato chips. Mother taught us that vegetables and fruit should reflect the color wheel during our daily meals. She enforced the drinking of milk unfortunately. I always hated milk. The first thing I did when I went away to college was  stop drinking it.

Food was cooked from scratch.
 
There were no mixes, no MSG, no shortcuts in our family’s larder. According to some food writers and experts the time after World War ll brought many modern conveniences to fifties housewives with processed foods such as Cheeze Whiz and frozen products. They tended to be too pricey and lacked nutritional value for my Mother’s uses. Sometimes I would find myself sitting on the front porch swing shucking corn or snapping green beans.

My favorite meal was a dish my Mother called, Arkansas Pie, which was yellow cornbread covered with butter beans, and topped with a slice of onion and a dollop of ketchup.

Along with the Arkansas Pie we had fresh cooked green beans, fried ham, and coleslaw. There were usually tomatoes from the garden. Daddy was a frustrated farmer who always had something growing: kale, asparagus, corn or tomatoes.

Sometimes on the weekends, Mother would make banana pudding which she always served with meringue topping.

  • No, none of us had weight problems. We weren’t couch potatoes, there was no such term back in the fifties. We were active, busy kids, spending most of our time outside.

Oh, but the fifties pressure cooker. It was a big, aluminum pot that scared me something awful when Mother had it going. It hissed and splattered and seemed to always be on the edge of exploding. But Mother operated it like a cool scientist who understood her science. She used the cooker often to cook chicken and other meats. When she finished preparing the chicken the dumplings she made after wards were worth the terror the pressure cooker caused. Mother wouldn’t allow us in the kitchen when the pressure cooker was at work.

It never did blow up on us, although it did explode many times in my imagination.

Another delicious dish Mother made in the pressure cooker was her beef and vegetable stew. Mother put pretty tough slices of beef in the cooker, along with tomatoes, potatoes, carrots, celery and other vegetables and within twenty minutes or so, have a great stew. The meat was tender and tasty and most of us were right on time when called to the table for supper.

Leftover roast beef was made into a special treat by the use of a hand-crank meat grinder that clamped onto the side of a counter. Feeding the ingredients into the little mechanical miracle was some kind of thrill for me and I was always up for helping my mother make the roast beef salad. She added chopped pickles, salt and pepper and mayonnaise. We served it up on Wonder Bread and it was delicious. My siblings liked to have a side of cottage cheese with the roast beef salad sandwich but it made me gag. The sandwich alone was good enough for me.

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Fishing at Silver Bridge

My grandparents were fishermen so we went fishing a lot when we were young. The family’s favorite destination was a place up in the Boston Mountains called Silver Bridge. Most of the fish fries occurred at our grandparents’ house, but I got the feeling my Mother didn’t much care for cooking fish. Still, she made great Salmon croquettes. The salmon fillets came from a can but she managed to make it taste like something special by adding green onions, an egg, bread crumbs (or crackers) and frying it in some vegetable oil.

We were never allowed to eat much popcorn or peanut butter because our family doctor advised against it. He suspected that popcorn and peanut butter might cause appendicitis. Anyway, that’s what Mother told us. After I grew up I made up for that deprivation. I love popcorn.

When t.v. dinners came along they were too expensive for my parents’ budget and my Mother wasn’t convinced that they were nutritious. I remember wanting to try the Mexican t.v. dinners once for my birthday so Mother made an exception for that. There was a little Mexican Tamale place downtown and occasionally our Grandfather would pick up some tamales and bring them over to us. The t.v. dinners didn’t compare to the downtown tamales so I never asked for Mexican t.v. dinners for my birthday again.

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In the fifties people didn’t go out to dinner that often. Sometimes when Mother took us downtown to see our grandparents at their dry-cleaning shop, The Rightway Cleaners, on Garrison Avenue we were treated to dinner at Woolworth’s counter. My sister and I loved their mashed potatoes and brown gravy and rolls, which is what we always ordered.

  • My Mother and Grandmother could always be counted on to go down the block to The Wide Awake Cafe to get a cup of coffee. I hated milk but loved the cream that was served with the coffee and my Grandmother always shared her cream with me. I also loved the red headed waitress who always served us. That was my Aunt Jeanine.

The Fun Guy in the Kitchen
 

  • My Dad never ventured into the kitchen unless our Mother was really sick and the only foods he knew how to make were fried potatoes and pancakes. He’d open up a can of pork and beans and serve it along with the fried potatoes and his children thought he was some kind of cool chef from outer space. He made his pancakes in the shape of animals.

Lucy and the Liver

  • When my Mother fixed liver for supper my sister, Lucy hightailed it over the little foot bridge to our neighbor, Ellen’s house and hid in her room. She couldn’t stand the smell of liver. My Mother would send us out looking for her. We knew where she was but would take our time looking for her because we knew there would be the usual scene at the table. Lucy was really clumsy and spilled her milk at almost every meal. She didn’t do it on purpose either.

Unlike my sister, I liked my Mother’s Liver and Onions. In fact, it had something to do with my romance with my future husband. One of the first times Bob came over to our house my Mother was making Liver and Onions for dinner. I was sort of embarrassed about the humble food she was preparing but Bob’s eyes lit up and he invited himself to eat. Mother had fixed mashed potatoes and gravy, homemade biscuits, the liver and onions, peas, etc. Bob was smitten.

He sat down in the onlooker’s chair. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Onlooker’s Chair
 

  • The Onlooker’s chair was just an extra chair at the dinner table that a neighbor or friend who dropped by unexpectedly was invited to sit down in to have a meal with us. It became the “onlooker’s chair” one day when our friend,Tommy came over.  When we invited him to eat supper with us, he said,”no, I already ate, I’ll just look.”
25 Jun 2011 03:50 am

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There’s always lots on the menu here at The Wide Awake Cafe. Here’s what’s on the grill today:

Lose a War Soup: A satisfying, filling, tasty, treat.

Cut and Run Soup: a large bowl filled with lots of factual, satisfying lumps of truth.

For those who have a taste for something really spicy try this.

Have some beer with this dish.

Obama Gaffe Flambee: A delicious and gutsy take on another goof of the President. Really could cause one to lose one’s appetite.

An odd tasting Yogurt which I myself would never eat but am compelled to serve.

It may be crying time but it’s not quitting time. Try it with some lasagna with lots of cheese.

Boehner Ragout Stew: Putting his foot down. With a side of crostini.

Served with a merlot.

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Never mind the cat on the table. If you choose to sup at The Wide Awake Cafe the sight of cats on the table will not result in any extra charge.

Eggs on faces of the lame stream media. (over easy, scrambled, or coddled)

Some of you may prefer fries but Michelle says you should eat your vegetables.

Vegetables are good for you and the media has been helpful to Obama, Michelle says. Eat some Beets.

We serve pizza here but today it is really snarky pizza. Be warned.

Arugula Salad with a drizzle of oil and vinegar.

Being always wakeful I offer the strongest coffee with cream.

This establishment serves good strong tea with lemon, milk, and hot toasted muffins.

Obama’s Government Chops: So good, you’ll want a shovel instead of a spoon.

White House Attack against Issa causes Acid Reflux. Have a chocolate chip cookie and milk.

For the unschooled palates: Try some jello with jelly beans.

More food for the kiddies. Macaroni and cheese to the Max.

We have lots of desserts on the menu: (if you don’t choose to desert the table)

First, the pies:

Pecan Pie, the kind made by your Southern grandmother, who shelled the pecans while sitting on the porch swing, telling you the story of the Tree of Life.

Lemon Meringue Pie, created lovingly with just the right amount of lemon and sugar, and topped with the best, lightest and highest meringue ever produced, almost high enough to reach Alaska, or, even - Russia.

Have a really big piece of Kentucky Derby Pie. A really big piece before time runs out. Time is running out, you know.

Peaches and cream.

A Feast for the eyes: accompanied by virtual chocolate.

A final toast to Peter Falk, a really good man. Peter starred in so many memorable films and of course there is his wonderful Columbo series but I will never forget him in his role as the Grandfather in The Princess Bride.

28 Feb 2009 02:38 pm

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Charlotte on a wooden bowl

My maternal and paternal grandmothers played important roles in my life and I’m lucky my parents let me spend lots of time with both of them. Looking back there was never enough time. Something I heard last night touched me and got me thinking about roles that grandparents play in the lives of grandchildren.

I was talking to my fellow co-conspirator and friend, Myra who is also the grandmother on the maternal side of my grandson, Aidan. I am his paternal grandmother. Myra is his maternal grandmother. How lucky Aidan is to have her.

We had a good time last night spending the last (hopefully) Friday night watching Aidan being an only child, reminding him of that fact and watching carefully (and sometimes painfully) his poor mom who is in her last few days of ordered bed rest.

Our little girl’s room is all ready. Pray, God, that the doctor and the sonogram is right and she really is a girl because there is just too much pink, rose, rosebud-red and lovely sweet little girl items to return and it wouldn’t be fair to a newborn little boy.

Getting back to our little five year old boy, Aidan who told his grandmother, Myra a story the other day as she was taking him to school. He informed her that he remembered what it was like in Heaven before he was born and came to earth. Aidan said that he was in a series of rooms and they kept moving him from room to room. He said he met different people in these rooms. One person he remembers meeting was the first president. “The first president, you say,” Myra said. “Who was that?”

“Well, that was President George Washington!” Aidan said emphatically.

Sitting around with Myra and watching our grandson play is just the best. I wish she lived here but she’s a steel magnolia from Louisiana. She will stay for a month after the baby is born so I will be having more than my usual share of coffee for the next month with one of my very best of friends.

21 Feb 2009 02:59 pm

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Miss Katydid and her dolls, Wimples and Lumley and other friends are having a tea party. Miss Katydid is my daughter Kate, who, along with her brother, Drew and sister, Charlotte, inspired lots of artistic output from me in their childhood lives. Their unique outlooks on life and funny comments gave me all the entertainment I ever needed. What is wrong with parents today who have to have their cable television and ipods and Wii’s and all that other stuff? If they would just take the time to sit down and interview their children they would find a universe of wonder.

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My brother trying to spoil my tea party

There was always a tea party in me. Perhaps it is genetic. My maternal (and some paternal) ancestors were from New England and were Revolutionaries. My direct ancestor, Ebenezer Whitmarsh built a house in what is now Whitman, Massachusetts in 1714 on ten acres of land (in what was then the wilderness) he had purchased for ten pounds of hard coin. Apparently he was a good builder because the house is still standing. It was up for sale last summer.

Our ancestors contributed to the growth and the goodness of this nation. The Whitmarshes, Haydens, Adams and Faxons were from Braintree, Massachusetts and the Rands hailed from Charleston, Massachusetts. In fact, Nehemiah Rand was a minister and a hatter and owned a part of Bunker Hill but after the British burned Charleston he and his family moved to Lyndeborough, New Hampshire permanently.

Having to flee the city didn’t mean they didn’t fight. Charles Whitmarsh, my direct great something grandfather took off to fight in the Revolutionary War at the age of sixteen and so did my great something grandfathers Benjamin Wright and John Wright. So did Mathew Payne and Josiah Payne. And it came down to taxation without representation. After all the blood, sweat and tears given to the building up of the nation the citizens weren’t willing to let a King from across an ocean send his army to terrorize the people and confiscate the goods the people had worked so hard to produce.

That brings us down to this very day and that so and so in the Oval Office who has in just one month brought such despicable change.

This is what Barack Obama intends to do with the hard working citizens of this country in this day and age. Barack Obama wants to mortage the future of our children and grandchildren, keeping them as renters, unable to take ten pounds of hard coin to build a house as my ancestor, Ebenezer Whitmarsh did and leave it to their children as he did. Why Obama wants to do this, we can only surmise, but stop him, we can, if we join together.

Apparently the American people have had it with the so-called hope and change Obama’s been forcing on the tax-paying, bill-paying producers in this country.

Sissy Willis writes about Rick Santelli, a CNBC host who roused the week with his revolutionary comments about Obama’s distributionist mortgage bailout plan: “Y’know, Cuba used to have mansions and a relatively decent economy. They moved from the individual to the collective. Now they’re driving ‘54 Chevys, maybe the last great car to come out of Detroit,”

Pajamas Media’s Roger Simon asks, Will there be a ‘Chicago Tea Party’?

Wanna Have a Tea Party?

I know I do.

We will have to be doing this while the MSM will be scrubbing the news for Obama, not something the Revolutionaries of Old had to deal with so much or did they?

24 May 2007 09:40 pm


Mingle2 - Free Online Dating

I wouldn’t say I am addicted to coffee. I just like coffee an awful lot. This morning I got up earlier than usual to get to school to prepare for the play. I went downstairs, flipped on the coffeemaker and trudged back upstairs to sit for a while, check the news and wake up.

After a bit I went down for the coffee and the coffeemaker had stopped with just about an inch of coffee in the pot. The switch had turned off. I think my cat, Sabby did it. He’s mad because I’ve been so busy lately that he hasn’t received his requisite attention. He does stuff like that. I think Sabby is really short for sabotage, not Sebastian. I turned the pot back on and went back upstairs.

I returned after a while and the coffee was ready. It wouldn’t have been a pleasant morning if I hadn’t had a few cups of caffeinated courage.

13 Sep 2006 07:38 am

Waking early to good coffee and enough time to peruse the news brings some disappointment, no surprises but some relief.

Relief that nothing worse happened on this flight except another unruly passenger got beat up by the passengers. Annoyed that the FBI spokeswoman immediately claimed it had nothing to do with terrorism. UPDATE: A more detailed article here.

Disappointment that Republican conservative, Steve Laffey didn’t beat RINO Lincoln Chaffee in the Rhode Island Republican Primary.

A shrug of the shoulders to Harry Reid and his fellow Democrats who (unsuprisingly) had nothing constructive to say in response to President Bush’s statesmanlike speech on September 11th, 2006. But still, this leaves me a little unsettled that there are so many mentally ill people walking around

Disappointed to read that the Minnesota 5th District Democrats elected fringe Muslim candidate Keith Ellison as their nominee for the November general election. I’ve been reading about this shady character for quite a while at Powerline.

Tony Snow said “Ixnay for a day” on Fox and Friends.

Matt Lauer sees blurred lines….and President Bush sets him straight. This makes my day.

20 May 2006 03:32 pm

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It varies. The above coffee cup has been getting a lot of use lately. But so do some of the cool Starbucks cups I’ve been collecting ever since my daughter started working there. It really doesn’t matter what the cups look like as long as they hold hot, Starbucks Coffee. I’m a three cup a day drinker for sure.

Chaotic Mom of The Chaotic Home Blog is linking to photos of favorite coffee mugs.

It’s a few days late but never too late when it comes to coffee. (The coffee must be fresh)