It seems I have been blogging now for twenty-one days straight. I'm getting dizzy. As I sit down to write tonight, I don't have any particular subject in mind. As with most days, I'm just hoping something comes to me.
So after posting about sleepovers the other day, and getting so many wonderful responses (to see a nicely expanded response, go over to Betty the Wood Fairy's site and read her post), I thought someone should put together a collection of essays about sleepover memories, the good, the bad and the ugly. That idea reminded me of another idea I had not too long ago for a collection of essays--babysitting memories.
Did you babysit? I started babysitting for our next door neighbors when I was in fifth or sixth grade. What amazes me now is how much responsibility people were willing to give me at a very young age. It wasn't unusual for me in eighth and ninth grade to spend the night or even a weekend babysitting while the parents went out of town. This was when we lived on a small Army post in Germany. I suppose it was a safe place, because I often babysat until midnight, got paid, and then walked home by myself. Yikes!
I wasn't the world's greatest babysitter. Mostly I was in it for the cash and the snacks. I didn't particularly like playing with children, though I was always willing to sit down to draw, color, do puzzles and read aloud (I was the same with my own children, by the way). I snooped around, looked for salacious reading materials, and talked on the phone. Nobody ever got hurt on my watch, but plenty of children got vaguely neglected.
After writing about vegetables yesterday, I came up with another subject for yet another anthology of essays I'd entitle What My Mother Made for Dinner. My mother made creamed chip beef on toast; did yours? In the 1970s she made Hamburger Helper casseroles, which we all loved, especially when they were "pizza" flavored. The funny thing is, she was a good cook. When she cooked for company, watch out! She could make Beef Wellington and cheese puffs to die for. She made a mean French onion soup.
But in general, my mom tended to cook the foods of the day. Lots of casseroles, lots of meatloaf. It wasn't unusual to have hot dogs for dinner. We never had pasta, because no one outside of New York City had pasta, or if they did, it was considered weird.
On Sunday nights we had steak, french fries, and french cut string beans. The french fries were frozen (almost always crinkle cut), but my mom deep-fried them, and they were delicious. Sometimes she deep fried onion rings, too.
Here's the interesting thing: My mother's father was a gourmet cook. This was a man before his time. He lived in Louisville, KY, where he was an architect. He knew about wine, he knew about cheese, and once when he came to visit he made us our first homemade pizza. Before that, the closest thing we got to homemade pizza came out of a little Chef Boyardee box that included a small can of tomato sauce and some sort of dried cheese. My grandfather's pizza was a revelation.
I wonder what meals my boys will look back at and giggle about. I cook mostly from scratch, so there'll be no Hamburger Helper to mock. But I'm sure they'll find something to shake their heads over. "Remember how she made us eat whole wheat pasta?" "Yeah, man, what was she thinking about?"