Thursday, July 14, 2011

Nursery fare

The essay for July 9 in Simple Abundance

is titled “Nursery Fare for Children of All Ages”

She writes:

When you’re cranky and cry easily, when you are so tired that your eyes burn from keeping them open, when you need hugs and someone to pat the top of your head and whisper, “Shh… there, there…” and no one is around, you need nursery fare.

Nursery foods are the well-loved recipes from childhood that conjure up the happy, innocent moments when all was right with the world…”

She started me thinking about the foods that bring back such pleasant memories of childhood.

 My mother did not make dessert very often, but things that spring to mind are…

warm tapioca pudding…

warm rice sprinkled with sugar, a dollop of margarine (butter was a treat for only very rare occasions), and a bit of milk….

a few marshmallows on top of a graham cracker and put under the broiler (years before “S’mores” became popular)…

hot chocolate made with canned milk…

It surprises me not at all that my favorite thing to eat off the dessert bar at the mega buffet is bread pudding (not that we will be going there anytime soon given how much weight we have gained…)

And then I suddenly remembered some things I loved to eat when I went to stay overnight with Mungie, my mom's mother, who was twice widowed and lived with her son, Ellis, whose wife had died many years earlier.

I loved Mungie, but I tended to prefer hanging around with men when I was a little girl, and I especially liked hanging around with Uncle Ellis. He had a couple of hobbies – indoors he raised canaries, and in the back yard he raised and raced pigeons.

Every time I see the small flock of feral pigeons flying about near the bridge over the highway, where they roost on the ledges of the “I” beam girders, I think of him and remember going outside with him and helping him mess about with the pigeons. When I was a little older, he gave me some pigeons of my own and built a coop for them at my house, but a neighborhood boy that I went to school with stole them one summer when we went on vacation. It was not until we were at our 10th high school reunion that he confessed that he had been the one to take them.

Uncle Ellis made money by making brooms, and he kept me supplied with stick horses – I was going to be a cowgirl when I grew up. Really, I was.

I loved the smell of the broomcorn, and watching the machine that he used to stitch the broomcorn, and the other machine that wound the wire around the stick. And when I spent the night, they fixed me up a bed in the room with the big machines that made interesting shadows when the lights were off, surrounded by the smell of the broomcorn.

And part of the ritual of staying with them was the bedtime snack: pieces of white bread torn in chunks with milk poured over and eaten; or it might be graham crackers crumbled into milk and eaten.

I have already learned in the past 6 months that food does not help. Eating to assuage our grief has just made us gain a lot of weight. So, I think I had better just reminisce about the nursery fare of childhood… except if memory serves, I believe I do have some tapioca in the cupboard…

Excuse me for just a minute….


Just Stuff From a Boomer said...

I loved your memories. I too ate warm rice with sugar and milk. We didn't eat bread and milk but my father would eat cornbread in milk.

I enjoyed the broomcorn story. I tried to grow it one year just for the heck of it, and didn't have any luck. I'm finding a lot of us share the same menories. It's been fun learning which ones.

Lil Sis said...

You have memories of Uncle Ellis that were before my time and I cannot share with you (sadly). The most I remember of him is coming over a couple of times to visit with Mom and chain smoking in our house - which facinated me (the smoking business) since at that time Mom and Dad didn't smoke.

I'm glad you got to share in his love of birds & broommaking. Great memories and a great picture of you, Uncle Ellis, and Mom (although I think she's having a bad hair day tee hee hee)

Oklahoma Granny said...

I so enjoyed reading about your memories. It brought to mind my visits with my Pappy - my dad's dad. Pappy was 83 when I was born so when I'd visit him at age 4 or 5 he would have been 87 or 88. He always had a jar of apple butter sitting on his kitchen table and it was good. But not nearly as good as the syrup sandwiches he'd make for me. Great memories! Thanks for taking me back there.

Far Side of Fifty said...

Ah your comfort food sounds good...great memories too:)