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You Cook 13 Foods and What Do You Get?
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John Sherck’s 13 list was on foods this week. Food is always a good topic. What are 13 foods you can remember from your childhood and teen years as regular offerings at the dinner table?

1. Roasts of any kind. My mother could not cook, so putting a roast in the oven and then returning to reading her book of the week was the perfect solution. She would time the roast so that she would be interrupted from reading by my coming home from school or from choir practice or by some other thing, so that she wouldn’t forget and burn the roast. Toss in some onions, potatoes and carrots from our vegetable garden and we had dinner. Roasts were fairly common because we would buy a side of beef at a time and freeze it. I remember once we were running low on meat in the freezer and my mother saying, “Darn. We’re out of roasts. I guess we’ll have to eat the filet mignon (which required watchful cooking.)"
2. Spaghetti was a staple. My stepfather was Italian and our spaghetti was the Napolitano kind. The first meal I learned to cook, in fact, starting with fresh tomatoes from the garden. One time both my mother and I salted the sauce and we had to add slices of potato to absorb the salt. My father had a fit, but money was too scarce to be throwing out food.
3. Meatloaf was another way to use ground meat, stretching it out with bread and/or rice. I liked to experiment with different herbs (I did tell you my mother couldn’t cook, didn’t I?) and sometimes the results were heavenly and sometimes the results were, shall we say, less than satisfactory.
4. Stew took care of the tougher cuts of meat. I still like to make a stew in my slow cooker, but stew meat is tasteless. Best to use chuck roast and cut it up yourself. It’s $2.99 a pound now; I can remember when it was 29¢ a pound and neck bones were given away for dogs to gnaw on. We used the neck bones for soup. When times are tough, nothing goes to waste. Dogs got the after-soup bones when we were done.
5. Chicken and dumplings was the dreaded Sunday night supper. My mother insisted she knew how to make dumplings. ‘Nuff said. Motto in our house was “Never Criticize the Cook". Once they were so bad even the dog wouldn't eat them.
6. Pork chops on occasion. My mother cooked them in milk; I never understood why. We each were allowed one food we wouldn’t eat and this was mine. Yuck. When we had pork chops, I ate cheese and crackers (or scavenged for leftovers.)
7. Macaroni and cheese was a repeated favorite, often served with corn on the cob, picked an hour or so before. We would get local cheeses from the family dairy farms round about and the result was fresh and tasty (and loaded with calories and fat, oh well).
8. Fish fried and sprinkled with lemon. Mostly flounder. Once when my mother brought the fish home, one was still alive. I took it out of the wrapper, ran down to the ocean, and released it into the water. Mom was not pleased. We had peanut butter and bananas for dinner that night.
9. Clams were free. I would walk out during low tide and pick a bushel of clams in 30 minutes or so. Dragging the basket behind me, I’d trudge into the house and my mother would clap her hands in delight. We had lots of clams, every way imaginable.
10. Blue crabs another gift from the ocean and oh, so delicious! With fresh corn on the cob, a heavenly treat. I would take string, tie some vile, half-rotted garbage to it, and dangle it in the water. The crabs would swim up and start to eat. A quick swoop with the net and into the basket another very active, irritated crab. Must be where the word “crabby” came from.
11. Baked ham was another of my mother’s favorites. Just pop it in the oven, remember to take it out, and voilà, dinner. The best part was the canned pineapple served as a side dish. Pineapple was a rare, special taste.
12. Rice was the basis for many meals. Mom would buy industrial-sized bags of rice, enough to feed a village, and cook up large amounts in a giant stew pot, using water from our well, pumped by hand (fresh, no chemicals). Breakfast, lunch and dinner would then consist of rice plus…whatever leftovers lurked in the ice box. (Yes, we had an ice box. Didn’t have electricity or indoor plumbing for quite a while.) Rice topped with a fried egg. Gravy over rice. Rice sautéed with veggies from the garden. You get the idea.
13. Liver and onions were often on the menu, because liver was good for you, and cheap. Remember the rule that you could have only one food you wouldn’t eat? Liver and onions was my sister’s. She would leave the house, and she and the dog would go out into the barn and share a picnic, as she called it. She wouldn’t come back inside until the house was aired out. In the middle of winter, that meant some chilly moments when we opened the side door and the kitchen door to let the air freshen.

So, what foods do you remember from your childhood? Any that especially stand out?

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