I was tagged by Stef of the wonderful Pinoy food blog Stefoodie for this meme in which you tell your five favorite food memories from childhood. At the risk of coming dangerously close to revealing my age, I'm going to start by saying that I grew up in the town of Bountiful, Utah, and my childhood years were in the fifties and sixties. Bountiful is quite a large suburb of Salt Lake City now (they are even getting a Costco), but in those days it was a small town where no one locked their doors and kids could and did wander the streets at night with complete safety. It was a great place to grow
I was raised in a large Mormon family with ten children, of which I am the oldest. My dad was an attorney, so we were not poor, but with ten kids there was not a lot of extra money for fancy foods. My mom was quite a good cook, known for her homemade bread (made by hand, including hand kneading twice) and homemade cinnamon rolls. But she was not a passionate cook like I am. She cooked because she had ten kids to feed. We had a few favorite dishes that she did well, but there was not a lot of experimenting going on in the kitchen. During a lot of my childhood my mother also worked as a nurse, and it was during that time that I started cooking some dinners.
The first real ethnic food I remember eating was tacos. Mom would buy uncooked corn tortillas, hamburger, iceberg lettuce, bottled Crystal hot sauce, grated mild cheddar cheese, and if we were lucky, tomatoes. I would stand at the stove and make tacos, quite a long process when you were making them for that many people. The "recipe" consisted of frying the hamburger (I don't remember adding seasoning), grating the cheese (there was no pre-grated cheese in those days), cutting up lettuce and tomatoes, and then frying the corn tortillas one at a time in a cast-iron frying pan. We used plenty of oil, and there was quite a knack to getting the tortilla fried enough to be tasty, but still soft enough that you could bend it to put the hamburger, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, and hot sauce inside. When you ate these the grease would pretty much run down your arm, but they were delicious.
Memory #2: Onion Sandwiches
On Sunday nights after church we often had a simple dinner. I'm sure that Mom needed a night off, so Sunday nights we usually had bread and milk, simply pieces of homemade bread broken into a bowl, covered with milk, and eaten with a spoon. I absolutely hated bread and milk, but if Dad was in charge of cooking Sunday dinner would be onion sandwiches, which I loved and would still enjoy eating today. The sandwiches were simply homemade white bread, lots of mayo, medium sized slices of yellow onion, and lots of salt. Whenever we ate it my dad would say "This onion is as mild as an apple" which the kids found very amusing. My mother was not a big fan of the onion sandwiches, but a lot of the kids grew up to like them.
Memory #3: Popcorn with Vege-Sal
Another Sunday night tradition in our family was popcorn. This was homemade popcorn, cooked on top of the stove with oil added to a heavy pan, the popcorn sauteed in the oil, then a lid put on the pan when it started to pop. Sometimes we had popcorn cooked in bacon grease, which was one of our favorites. (This was before people knew about cholesterol.) We used white popcorn most often, and always seasoned the popcorn with Vege-Sal (which we pronounced Veg A Salt). Vege-sal was something my Grandma Denny passed down to all her grandchildren, and I dare predict that every one of my brothers and sisters still use it today.
Memory #4 Cooked Cheerios
Since our family was so large we didn't have a lot of money for snacks. I don't ever remember having things like chips or cookies readily available in the cupboard for an after school snack. Instead Mother would say, "Have a piece of bread." Wanting something a little more exotic, one of us kids devised a recipe that became a favorite: Cooked Cheerios. It was inspired by the holiday Chex Mix recipe that combines several types of cereal, nuts, butter, and worcestershire sauce. Here's how to make Cooked Cheerios:
- Melt a generous amount of margarine (we never had butter) in a large frying pan.
- Add Cheerios, as much as the pan will hold without spilling out when you stir the Cheerios.
- Sprinkle Cheerios with Worcestershire Sauce and Salt, and saute, cooking until they are all fairly browned.
- Eat as a snack, similar to how you would eat popcorn or Chex Mix.
This memory is something I started eating as a young teenager and continued to eat for years and years as an adult. I was a fairly responsible kid and started earning money by babysitting for other people in our neighborhood at quite a young age. This gave me access to spending money, most of which I used to buy snacks, such as sunflower seeds or this favorite, Fritos with bean dip. In later years I developed a fondness for the hot bean dip and the Fritos "Scoops", but in my childhood I am pretty sure there was only basic bean dip and regular sized Fritos. I loved to eat this and would walk down to the store and get it whenever I had some money to spend. Even to this day if our family goes camping, you can be sure there will be someone who brings this along.
There you have my favorite childhood food memories. I think this meme has been around for a while, so I am not sure who to tag. I do know that I am supposed to reproduce this list, taking off the top person and adding my name to the end:
1. Joey who’s trying to blog about her 80 Breakfasts
2. Karen of The Pilgrim’s Pots and Pans
3. Louie of Louienep/food
4. Stef of Stefoodie.net
5. Kalyn of Kalyns Kitchen
Here is who I am going to tag, and if they have already done it I will beg their forgiveness for not noticing:
1. Kevin of Milky Way Diner
2. Tony of Tony's Food Chronicles
3. Monkey Gland of Jamfaced
4. Jennifer of The Spice Must Flow
5. Sara at Sara's Kitchen