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My father’s mother baked from scratch, but she always had a container of Cool Whip in the fridge when we came to visit. Did she always stock it? I don’t know, but it was a special treat for us.

I don’t buy it for myself but even now the taste of Cool Whip reminds me of hot summers and warm smiles.

Last week, I whipped up a bit of cream to go with fresh strawberries from a farm down the road. I usually add a bit of Grand Marnier but this time, I decided to try a slight twist. 

It turns out that heavy whipping cream plus vanilla, sugar and a dollop of sour cream creates a thick whipped topping that tastes a lot like Cool Whip. Not as it is, necessarily, but as I remember it. Fun, flavorful, special.

Let’s call it Cool Whip for adults. All of the memories, none of the additives.

Thanks, Grandma.

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Photo by Tangerine Newt on Unsplash

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As a bonus Father’s Day gift, today I’m featuring a podcast I know he’ll like.

A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs 

In it, Andrew Hickey discusses the history and culture of rock & roll as seen through 500 songs. He’s up to episode 150.

If you prefer to consume your media via the written word, each episode includes a transcript. I also found myself somewhat at a loss as to which, what and where, so (being me) I made an episode list with links. (If an index already exists, I didn’t see it.)

Note: I built the list by translating episode titles into URLs in Excel and haven’t tested every link, but hopefully they’ll get you to where you’re going.

Enjoy!

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A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs 
Episode 1: “Flying Home” by the Benny Goodman Sextet
Episode 2: “Roll ‘Em Pete” by Big Joe Turner and Pete Johnson
Episode 3: “Ida Red” by Bob Wills and his Texas Playboys
Episode 4: “Choo Choo Ch’Boogie” by Louis Jordan
Episode 5: ‘Rosetta Tharpe and “This Train”
Episode 6: ‘The Ink Spots — “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin”
Episode 7: ‘Wynonie Harris and “Good Rockin’ Tonight”
Episode 8: “The Fat Man” by Fats Domino
Episode 9: “How High The Moon” by Les Paul and Mary Ford
Episode 10: “Double Crossin’ Blues”, by Johnny Otis, Little Esther, and the Robins
Episode 11: “Rocket 88” by Jackie Brenston and the Delta Cats
Episode 12: “Lawdy Miss Clawdy” by Lloyd Price
Episode 13: “Mama He Treats Your Daughter Mean” by Ruth Brown
Episode 14: ″Jambalaya” by Hank Williams
Episode 15: “Hound Dog” by Big Mama Thornton
Episode 16: “Crazy Man Crazy” by Bill Haley and the Comets
Episode 17: “Money Honey” by Clyde McPhatter and the Drifters
Episode 18: “Sh-Boom” by the Chords
Episode 19: “That’s All Right, Mama” by Elvis Presley
Episode 20: “Rock Around the Clock” by Bill Haley and the Comets
Episode 21: “Rock Island Line” by Lonnie Donegan
Episode 22: “The Wallflower” by Etta James
Episode 23: “Pledging My Love” by Johnny Ace
Episode 24: “Ko Ko Mo” by Gene and Eunice
Episode 25: “Earth Angel” by the Penguins
Episode 26: “Ain’t That A Shame” by Fats Domino
Episode 27: “Tweedle Dee” by LaVern Baker
Episode 28: “Sincerely” by the Moonglows
Episode 29: “Maybellene” by Chuck Berry
Episode 30: “Bo Diddley” by Bo Diddley
Episode 31: “Only You” by the Platters
Episode 32: “I Got A Woman” by Ray Charles
Episode 33: “Mystery Train”, by Elvis Presley
Episode 34: “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard
Episode 35: “Why Do Fools Fall In Love?” by Frankie Lymon and the Teenagers
Episode 36: “Blue Suede Shoes” by Carl Perkins
Episode 37: “I Walk The Line” by Johnny Cash
Episode 38: “Heartbreak Hotel” by Elvis Presley
Episode 39: “Please Please Please” by James Brown and the Famous Flames
Episode 40: “Drugstore Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Janis Martin
Episode 41: “Be-Bop-A-Lula” by Gene Vincent and the Bluecaps
Episode 42: “Ooby Dooby” by Roy Orbison and the Teen Kings
Episode 43: “I Gotta Know” by Wanda Jackson
Episode 44: “Train Kept A-Rollin’”, by Johnny Burnette and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Trio
Episode 45: “Blueberry Hill”, by Fats Domino
Episode 46: “Brown-Eyed Handsome Man” by Chuck Berry
Episode 47: “Goodnight My Love” by Jesse Belvin
Episode 48: “Rock With the Caveman” by Tommy Steele
Episode 49: “Love is Strange” by Mickey and Sylvia
Episode 50: “Honky Tonk” by Bill Doggett
Episode 51: “Matchbox” by Carl Perkins
Episode 52: “Twenty Flight Rock”, by Eddie Cochran
Episode 53: “I Put a Spell on You” by Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
Episode 54: “Keep A Knockin’” by Little Richard
Episode 55: “Searchin’” by the Coasters
Episode 56: “Bye Bye Love” by the Everly Brothers
Episode 57: “Flying Saucers Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Billy Lee Riley and the Little Green Men
Episode 58: “Mr. Lee” by the Bobbettes
Episode 59: “Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On” by Jerry Lee Lewis
Episode 60: “You Send Me” by Sam Cooke
Episode 61: “That’ll Be the Day” by The Crickets
Episode 62: “Jailhouse Rock” by Elvis Presley
Episode 63: “Susie Q” by Dale Hawkins
Episode 64: “Reet Petite” by Jackie Wilson
Episode 65: “Maybe” by the Chantels
Episode 66: “Great Balls of Fire” by Jerry Lee Lewis
Episode 67: “Johnny B. Goode”, by Chuck Berry
Episode 68: “Yakety Yak” by the Coasters
Episode 69: “Fujiyama Mama” by Wanda Jackson
Episode 70: “Move It” by Cliff Richard and the Drifters
Episode 71: “Willie and the Hand Jive” by Johnny Otis
Episode 72: “Trouble” by Elvis Presley
Episode 73: “La Bamba” by Ritchie Valens
Episode 74: “It Doesn’t Matter Any More” by Buddy Holly
Episode 75: “There Goes My Baby” by the Drifters
Episode 76: “Stagger Lee” by Lloyd Price
Episode 77: “Brand New Cadillac” by Vince Taylor and the Playboys
Episode 78: “What’d I Say” by Ray Charles
Episode 79: “Sweet Nothin’s” by Brenda Lee
Episode 80: “Money” by Barrett Strong
Episode 81: “Shout” by the Isley Brothers
Episode 82: “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” by Elvis Presley
Episode 83: “Only The Lonely” by Roy Orbison
Episode 84: “Shakin’ All Over” by Johnny Kidd and the Pirates
Episode 85: “Three Steps to Heaven” by Eddie Cochran
Episode 86: “LSD-25” by the Gamblers
Episode 87: “Apache” by the Shadows
Episode 88: “Cathy’s Clown” by the Everly Brothers
Episode 89: “Will You Love Me Tomorrow?” by the Shirelles
Episode 90: “Runaway” by Del Shannon
Episode 91: “The Twist” by Chubby Checker
Episode 92: “The Lion Sleeps Tonight” by the Tokens
Episode 93: “Please Mr. Postman” by the Marvelettes
Episode 94: “Stand By Me”, by Ben E. King
Episode 95: “You Better Move On” by Arthur Alexander
Episode 96: “The Loco-Motion” by Little Eva
Episode 97: “Song to Woody” by Bob Dylan
Episode 98: “I’ve Just Fallen For Someone” by Adam Faith
Episode 99: “Surfin’ Safari” by the Beach Boys
Episode 100: “Love Me Do” by the Beatles
Episode 101: “Telstar” by the Tornados
Episode 102: “Twist and Shout” by the Isley Brothers
Episode 103: “Hitch-Hike” by Marvin Gaye
Episode 104: “He’s a Rebel” by “The Crystals”
Episode 105: “Green Onions” by Booker T. and the MGs
Episode 106: “Louie Louie” by the Kingsmen
Episode 107: “Surf City” by Jan and Dean
Episode 108: “I Wanna Be Your Man” by the Rolling Stones
Episode 109: “Blowin’ in the Wind” by Peter, Paul, and Mary
Episode 110: “Be My Baby” by the Ronettes
Episode 111: “Heat Wave” by Martha and the Vandellas
Episode 112: “She Loves You” by The Beatles
Episode 113: “Needles and Pins” by The Searchers
Episode 114: “My Boy Lollipop” by Millie
Episode 115: “House of the Rising Sun” by the Animals
Episode 116: “Where Did Our Love Go?” by The Supremes
Episode 117: “Don’t Worry Baby” by the Beach Boys
Episode 118: “Do-Wah-Diddy-Diddy” by Manfred Mann
Episode 119: “You Really Got Me” by the Kinks
Episode 120: “A Hard Day’s Night” by the Beatles
Episode 121: “The Leader of the Pack” by the Shangri-Las
Episode 122: “A Change is Gonna Come” by Sam Cooke
Episode 123: “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’” by the Righteous Brothers
Episode 124: “People Get Ready” by the Impressions
Episode 125: “Here Comes the Night” by Them
Episode 126: “For Your Love” by the Yardbirds
Episode 127: “Ticket to Ride” by the Beatles
Episode 128: “Mr. Tambourine Man” by the Byrds
Episode 129: “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction” by the Rolling Stones
Episode 130: “Like a Rolling Stone” by Bob Dylan
Episode 131: “I Hear a Symphony” by the Supremes
Episode 132: “I Can’t Help Myself” by the Four Tops
Episode 133: “My Girl” by the Temptations
Episode 134: “In the Midnight Hour” by Wilson Pickett
Episode 135: “The Sound of Silence” by Simon and Garfunkel
Episode 136: “My Generation” by the Who
Episode 137: “Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag” by James Brown
Episode 138: “I Fought the Law” by the Bobby Fuller Four
Episode 139: “Eight Miles High” by the Byrds
Episode 140: “Trouble Every Day” by the Mothers of Invention
Episode 141: “River Deep, Mountain High” by Ike and Tina Turner
Episode 142: “God Only Knows” by the Beach Boys
Episode 143: “Summer in the City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful
Episode 144: “Last Train to Clarksville” by the Monkees
Episode 145: “Tomorrow Never Knows” by the Beatles
Episode 146: “Good Vibrations” by the Beach Boys
Episode 147: “Hey Joe” by The Jimi Hendrix Experience
Episode 148: “Light My Fire” by the Doors
Episode 149: “Respect” by Aretha Franklin
Episode 150: “All You Need is Love” by the Beatles – A History of Rock Music in 500 Songs

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Photo by Il Vagabiondo on Unsplash

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“I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”

― Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

Or in my father’s case, not so little. For passing on wisdom, an open heart, sharp editorial eye, love of cooking, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars and so much more, thanks, Dad. Happy Father’s Day!

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Photo by Mieke Campbell on Unsplash

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My doctor may not agree* but some days you just need to go all in. This recipe is one example**:

Mom’s Mashed Potatoes

Peel, cook, mash, mix. The secret to success is lots of everything good; more butter, more milk, more salt.

Simple. Good.

* I use this rule in moderation, which makes the times when I do even better.

** Lest one accuse my mother of writing an incomplete recipe, I admit that there was originally more to it than this. I’ve stripped it down to the essentials:)

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Photo by bernard buyse on Unsplash

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Today would have been The Whippersnapper‘s 109th birthday. I was hoping to post another photo of her but my father, keeper of the family album, is out of town.

For now just let me say to my grandmother, dancer, baker, tea maker and all-around excellent human being:

I miss you, but I love that you were here.

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Photo by Logan Ellzey on Unsplash

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For various reasons I need a dose of cute today. Here it is, in case you do too.

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Photo by Patrick Slade on Unsplash

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Today is the first time I will be making Swedish meatballs for Christmas Eve. I’ve helped my father, many times, but have never made them in my own house. 

The recipe we grew up with was my grandmother’s. Every year we would pull out the little wooden recipe card box and find a three by five index card in her handwriting, with my father’s annotations at the edges. You could tell which one it was by all the lingonberry stains. 

I loved that it was a family recipe, and that every time we made it I remembered Christmas as a kid at my grandparents’ house in Chicago. 

I will admit that I didn’t exactly love the recipe. A decade or so ago we all admitted that maybe, just maybe, the meatballs weren’t all they could be (sorry, Grandma!), and tried an alternative. Here’s what I had to say about that:

… a few years ago we made the shift from Grandma Johnson’s handwritten recipes (so homey!) for dishes like Swedish meatballs and limpa and roast pork to the spectacular versions of same in Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit. Yes, an Ethiopian-born immigrant throws down on traditional Swedish food and wins big. See what I mean? The food still says home, only better:) 

The Universal Language? | J.R. Johnson

So this year we’re doing the new old family recipe. It won’t be the traditional Christmas Eve smorgasbord with family, but it will feel like the holidays.

Mr Man and I have already made the quick-pickled cucumbers and are letting them steep (half the sugar though, and no apologies!). As soon as the juice is at full flavor it will be time to make the meatballs. 

Until then we’ll kick back, listen to classic Christmas music and make the most of this Christmas Eve. 

God jul everyone!

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Photo by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash

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Today, a recipe that has an important place in our family history.

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Swedish Pancakes
(Mike Johnson)

Mike: The history of this recipe begins with Olga, my father’s father’s (far far in Swedish) sister. For most of her life she was a live-in maid and nanny for a rich family across town, from the time when Swedish girls were brought over to replace other ethnicities in the service industry. She also cooked for her brother and his children, and later grandchildren on the weekends. After that she took care of her son. She worked all her life, living with the same family for 30 years and only retiring at 85. She died at the age of 99, tired and more than ready to go.

Jen: My father often spoke of Olga and how she would stand at his grandfather’s stove flipping seven thin pancakes at a time in the special cast iron pan, piling plates high on Sunday mornings. She didn’t have a recipe, just mixed the ingredients together until they “looked right.” Dad finally made up his own and still uses it to play the role of Swedish grandmother, eating over the stove as the rest of us spread butter and sugar and lemon or lingonberries on the pancakes,* then roll them up to eat. Delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¼ C. milk
  • ¾ C. flour
  • ¼ C. sugar
Photo by M Draa on Unsplash

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* We do the dishes after so Dad can relax. We’re not monsters!

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We Earned This One

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Here is a thing that I love, and the one item I requested from my grandmother’s estate: an artichoke plate. 

Artichokes are thorny, tough and difficult to pair with wine. They were at the heart (hehe) of a racketeering scheme in New York in the 1920s and ’30s, which led to a temporary ban and a dramatic upswing in knowledge about, and orders for, the vegetable. They also taste great.

The back of the plate is marked “E & R 0136” but that’s the only information I have. Where was it made, when, and did it come from Ebeling & Reuss or another manufacturer? I don’t know, but I love it anyway.

Disassembling an artichoke flower bud is a messy job, and this plate is the perfect canvas on which to do it. I prefer to serve mine with lemon butter sauce, but there’s also mayonnaise. If you must.

I doubt the dish is valuable from anything other than an emotional standpoint but that’s fine, I won’t be selling it. I have a lot of great memories about artichokes and about my grandmother, and this plate helps me remember both.

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