Saturday, May 31, 2008

If it weren't for...

Ramen noodles I think I might have starved as a child. As the youngest of 10 growing children, I'll just say that food had its scarce times. Now, my dad typically shopped for the groceries at our house and my father, bless his heart, happens to be one of the most frugal (i.e. cheap, tight wad, penny pinching) individuals on the planet. Needless to say, I remember eating a few weird items as a kid for months on end--because "it was on sale so I stocked up." Stocked up, Dad? Stocked up? Until when? The Apocolypse? How much cheese substitute can one person possibly possess?

My parents have two extremes of cooking which match their two extremes in personality. Dad cooks things very slowly. If he puts a burger on at 7, you'd might eat by 9 if you're lucky. Mom, on the other hand, believes there are two states in which food exists: raw and burned. Carcinogens delight her. Because there is, after all, only one setting on all cooking devices: high.

The idea for this post comes from two hilarious posts I read recently, this one by Azucar and this one by Sue at Navel Gazing at its Finest. And because of these two I am left to recall the many strange food products my parents fed me over the years. I'm recalling the "food competitions" which occurred each night at the table because if you did not grab as much as you could right this instant you would not get any.

Following is a list of odd, quirky, and mostly disgusting things they had us consume over the years (with many thanks to my sisters Loving the Chaos & Somebody Told Me So for their memory input):

Corned Beef and Cabbage (gag)

Zucchini, tomatoes, and onion fried into a wilted, mushy mess (I didn't realize I liked zucchini until adulthood--who knew it came in the un-mush variety?)

Two words: FRIED SPAM

Not so de-boned chicken soup

I seem to recall stacks upon stacks of red boxes of Banquet TV Dinners

Melted Cheese On a Plate. Yup. Just cheese. Melted. On a plate.

Canned Deseret Ketchup from the early 80's (have you ever eaten this stuff? DISGUSTING! Think tomato paste with sugar and you're on the right path)

Home Bottled Trout--which looked more like lined up science projects in jars (and which I NEVER ate)

Creamed Eggs (on toast--I still love this, by the way)

Meatloaf Surprise (i.e. leftovers--which OF COURSE weren't ever covered in the fridge--molded into a loaf with a pound of ground beef)

Mystery Casseroles (this follows a similar strand of logic as that of Meatloaf Surprise, in fact sometimes Meatloaf Surprise was featured in Mystery Casserole--simply substitute ground beef with cream of mushroom soup and noodles and/or potatoes)

Label-less canned goods (they were on sale!). You would open it up and whatever was inside, there you'd have it. What is even more scary is some things you still couldn't tell what it was when the can was OPEN.

After a stint working with the Scouts, my Dad went on a foil dinner kick--only they'd come out half and half: half raw, half burned.

What about you? What penny pinching measures did your parents make in the grocery list? And does anyone else owe their survival to Top Ramen?


Anonymous said...

You nailed it!! I can't wait to see what my children will say about my meals, when they grow up.

Life is like a box of chocolates; moderation is the key, overload is a sickness. I'll take all the chocolate!!

I do like corn beef and cabbage, now! Even creamed eggs, mom would be proud of me, I eat the eggs now. But, oh how horrible did we eat. It does cost a lot to eat healthy in this country, that is the sad thing.

We are so backwards in the U.S.

Some of it does taste so... good though. Try living in SPAM country. I bet you will never see Spam and Rice on any menu on the mainland. Try it you might like it, but don't make it a habit. Once in a while Ramen and Mac n' Cheese are great. At least my kids think so.

Alice said...

hehehehe. I still like romen on occasion. My mom is a pretty good cook so I don't remember being sicked out by anything she made us eat. Something other people think is wierd, is hamburger and corn. But we thought it was tasty! :

Jen said...

My mom tried the powdered milk trick. She never fooled us, though.

And I am currently in possession of my parents' old wheat grinder, and a 50 lb bucket of wheat which I grind for my own flour on rare occasions.

Ashley said...

I am laughing at all the crazy meals! I swear I have known you forever but there is so many fun things about your childhood I am just now learning... Love the stories!

Alice is right... My mom is a very good cook so I don't remember anything to weird. But my dad on the other hand is something else. When we were home with him we had a burnt hamburger patty on a plate, no bun, with french fries and homemade special sauce or a pot pie.

To this day I refuse to eat pot pies! :)

Lanie Painie said...

Holy Toledo, How many times was the mystery can filled with ALPO? Geesh, if whatever doesn't kill you makes you stronger, you must have freakin superpowers!

I'm sick to my stomach now . ..

Stine said...

Saltines and ketchup. Enough said.

My particular loathing in childhood was the Bev meatloaf surprise. I kid you not, I remember finding almost an entire 1/2 an onion in one once.

But overall, as a youth, my favorite period was the convenience store dinners while living across from the fire station. I would jump in the Datsun and go get us each a few corn dogs, some nachos, some chicken strips, and we'd be good to go.

I'm so glad I really discovered veggies in my 20's.

Kimmy said...

That's the best diet blog entry I've ever read....I was hungry before reading it and now I'm not. Thanks for that, seriously.
We did "rings n' weiners" a lot, which is hot dogs chopped up with onion, cheese and tomato sauce with pasta- still like it. We also had tuna casserole, which I think is nasty. I can remember ramen and pork- gross. Luckily we never did SPAM, although my mom likes it.
My brother-in-law remembers macaroni noodles with nothing but tomato sauce and creamed tuna over toast- what he calls "po' man's food." I guess we were pretty lucky.

Blackeyedsue said...



My mom is pretty much a gourmet. I can't remember anything of hers I didn't like. Even when I am pregnant and can't eat any other food, I can always eat what she makes.