Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 9, 2013

Childhood Foods

Filed under: Family,Food,Garden — Janice @ 11:55 pm

I read an article today about how the smell of childhood comfort foods brings memories back with more vividness than a photo. Duh.

But it got me to thinking about childhood comfort foods of my own. Cinnamon toast is the first thing that comes to mind. I’ve made a thousand slices of cinnamon toast for myself since I was a kid, but they never EVER have the taste and texture of the way Mom made them. White bread, probably real butter or good margarine, sugar and a sprinkling of cinnamon. Maybe being toasted under the flame of a gas broiler helped, too. I know I ate cinnamon toast a lot as a kid (and every year since), but I have the most vivid memory of Mother waking me up one morning. My sister had already gone to school that day, I was 3 or 4, and I must have been tired because I was still asleep. Mother gently woke me up and told me that Captain Kangaroo was on. She had a plate of cinnamon toast for me and the TV tuned to the Captain… sigh… even then I knew I had it good.

From those earliest years when we lived in Amarillo, I also remember Mom’s French fries. Of course they were always good, but I remember them more vividly in that house and they seemed to be more of a treat when we had them there. Kids today don’t even seem to know that you CAN cook your own French fries. You don’t have to rely on what the fast food places call a French fry. I’ll take Mom’s.

And lemon cake. Mom probably has no idea how much I loved her lemon cake. I don’t even think it was something she continued to make that much and I don’t have a recipe for it. But back in the early 60s she had a lemon sheet cake. I remember how good and moist and lemony it was. And then the ants got in it. I remember it sitting on the counter and it had ants and Mother just threw the whole thing in the trash. I was devastated. That was GOOD cake.

Stuffed peppers, homemade tacos, hamburgers, chicken fried steak, corn fresh off the stalk minutes before it was dropped in the boiling water, onions fresh out of the garden sliced and turned into the best onion rings, all the fresh vegetables (that I ate fried mostly), and cinnamon rolls out of a can. Just some of the comfort foods that are coming to mind. Oh, and meat. We lived on a farm. We would have our own cows butchered and we filled the freezer. We’d eat steaks and roast for a while and then work our way down until short ribs were the only things left. There is definitely a difference between good meat and so-so meat. Pizza made from a little box at my grandmother’s. Cream of Wheat at her house. Fresh tomatoes. I even experienced fresh milk— as in still warm from the cow – and real cream and real butter. I would like to try that again. Mom’s chocolate cake and her polka dot cake.

Ohmygod— cherry pie. I just thought of cherry pie. If I could time travel and go back for one plate of one food in my life it would be, hands down, Mom’s cherry pie made with cherries from our cherry trees or from my Aunt Dorothy’s cherry tree, all which were off shoots of my great-grandmother’s cherry trees. Small, sour, delicious. The best cherries in the world and a pie from them was the thing. Mark got to experience one piece of the ultimate cherry pie once. I’ve only had it one time in the last 20 years and I guess I have to come to terms with the fact that I never will. I don’t even attempt cherry pie because anything I make from any kind of store bought or farmer’s market cherry is never ever going to live up to that taste.

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