Posts Tagged ‘childhood’

Some of my food choices have not made the transition to adulthood. Lightbulb fried salami. My Kraft Mac & Cheese and ramen habit.* Fruit Loops when I could get them, which was once a year or less (it was a good rule, parental units, but don’t think I’m over it! 😉

But some have.

Consider the peanut butter and jelly sandwich.** Is it a perfect balance of densities, sweet and savory, carbs, protein and flavor? Crunchy or smooth, with your choice of fruit flavors. Spark it up with homemade bread if you’re into that sort of thing. And so easy to assemble!

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* What? Alternate days, it was all perfectly reasonable.

** Am I posting this because it’s lunchtime, because I enjoy reminders of my often unconventional culinary childhood, or because I want to remind my mother that a PB&J is a terrific option for those days when lunch seems like a lot? Let’s go with all of the above.

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Photo by Freddy G on Unsplash

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Yesterday we made yogurt and pizza. Today I’m baking bread and it’s almost time for lunch, so let’s stick with the food theme.

These are more recollections than recipes, and from a time when I didn’t worry about pesky things like saturated fat or fire codes. My tastes have changed over the years, but I happen to be having macaroni and cheese for lunch today.

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Hard salami

Don’t ask how we came up with this idea but my brother and I decided that fried salami would be a pretty good late-night snack. This was back in the days when we shared a bedroom and were often sent to it before we were sleepy enough to go to bed. Reading in our bunkbeds with matching shelves and lamps, it seemed perfectly natural to want a little something to eat. Hard salami was always high on our list; who doesn’t like the seductive appeal of a food that’s half fat and salty to boot? The McDonald’s empire was built on such foods. We loved it. Our real innovation, though, was to cook the salami so that its texture was similar to that of pepperoni on pizza. The only way to accomplish this in our bedrooms was to fry each slice on our reading lamb light bulbs. The edges curled and the fat melted a bit, making the salami a warm succulent treat. I have no idea why it didn’t all just burst into flames.

Kraft macaroni and cheese

I made this so often that I knew the recipe by heart at age 9. I’d eat it one elbow at a time, sliding a fork tine down into the elbow’s open center and chewing slowly while reading in the La-Z-Boy by the window.

Mushroom and oyster soups

These two brands of Campbell’s soup were my favorites. Something about the rich creamy taste and filling texture made them perfect snacks for a winter’s afternoon. I’ve probably had more than my fair share of sodium and modified food starch, but at the time it was delightful.

Stir fried whatever

Usually I’d pull out whatever was in the fridge and toss it into the wok. First slice up an onion or scallion, some ginger or garlic if available, and stir fry for a minute or so until brown at the edges. Add frozen peas, and other vegetables you may have, cook for another minute, then add cold leftover rice and break an egg over top of it all and stir like mad for another minute, or until egg is thoroughly dry. Add soy sauce and snack.


When my brother finished his “meat-itarian” phase he was once again willing to accept a bit of green on his plate, at least when chaperoned by large quantities of meat. One result of this broadened perspective was his version of the BLT. It was simple, relying more on size and shock value for impact. I’m not sure anyone makes them quite like my brother. 

Slice half a tomato thickly, grill up half a package of bacon, find a couple of lettuce leaves in the fridge. Slather mustard onto one piece of bread and hot chili paste onto the other. Assemble the sandwich using all ingredients. If you survive a few months of these, you’ll have a cast-iron stomach and cholesterol levels that are through the roof.

Dad’s grilled cheese

The secrets to a great grilled cheese sandwich are lots of butter* and a cast-iron pan. I remember Dad slathering the outsides of two bread slices with butter, filling them with cheese, and then grilling it all until crisp and brown. He’d even cut mine on the diagonal, just the way I like it.

* Note from the future: mayonnaise is even better than butter for crispiness.

Pumpkin seeds

Every fall Halloween would roll around and it would be pumpkin carving time. Some years my designs would be better than others but I always got a kick out of the process. First, spread lots of newspaper on the kitchen table or floor. Then cut around the pumpkin stem with a sharp and sturdy knife until you can pull the top out. Take a big spoon and scrape out all the strange, stringy membranes inside. Spend an inordinate amount of time rinsing these interior scrapings to separate out the seeds. When as done as you can stand, dry and spread the seeds onto a cookie sheet, then bake at 350ºF for a few minutes until golden brown and crunchy. Salt liberally and enjoy.

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Photo by Anna Tukhfatullina Food Photographer/Stylist on Pexels.com

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