Along the path to adulthood I knew I was making progress when I gave up certain habits. Like the day Pop Rocks and Fun Dip stopped being a part of my regular diet. Or the first winter I went without tossing snowballs at the school bus.
You know, signs along the path of life that make one feel like a grown-up.
Occasionally I wonder if I’ve taken a wrong turn somewhere because I can’t stop at a gas station without buying beef jerky.
There’s something about beef jerky that makes me feel like a kid again. I’ve got a number of excuses ready if the clerk ever asks, “Is that for you?”
But it was expensive. I’d save a few bucks by mowing lawns in the summer or shoveling walks in the winter that I’d have enough to buy the long skinny jerky sticks at George’s Market off 36th Street in Ogden.
When I started playing baseball I graduated to Jerky Stuff. It came in what looked like a tin of chewing tobacco but was filled with 97% fat free goodness. I’d place a pinch in my lip till the flavor was drained or I accidentally swallowed it. Usually the latter.
I can’t imagine the money I’ve spent on beef jerky over the years. Probably enough to buy a cow or two.
My mom has been making this recipe for pumpkin cream pies for as long as I can remember. It’s been handed down for several generations. It’s the only pumpkin pie I’ll eat. We only make them at Thanksgiving, primarily due to the time they take to prepare. The filling must be stirred over heat for 90 minutes and then allowed to cool down for two hours.
And tonight, stirring the pumpkin pies was task Kim felt I could handle.
Only once during those 90 minutes did I scream when a blob of super hot pumpkin filling bubbled out of the pan and onto my bare knee. I must have made quite a racket because Kim ran up the stairs thinking I’d dumped the pan on the floor. I guess my small knee blister won’t be getting much sympathy.
A day or two before Thanksgiving 2001, I called my mother to get the pie recipe and I wrote down the above measurements.
My four year old daughter’s penmanship is more legible than this mess. I received low marks in penmanship back in grade school, and I’ve done nothing since then to prove them wrong. And who spells ‘yolks’ correctly the first time anyway?
Stirring pies brings back a lot of good memories. My mom would pull up a chair and keep me company which made the time go by faster. I’d stir for an hour and feel certain the filling was finished cooking. I’d ask if cranking up the heat would reduce the cooking time (it doesn’t). My mom would make the crusts by hand, but she never felt they looked very good. I’d tell her the only thing that mattered was how they taste. And they always tasted so very good.
Finally, at around the 85 minute mark, mom would take the oversized wooden spoon from my tired hands. She’d fill the spoon full of filling and turn it over. If it hung for a second or two, it was done. I usually had to stir for a few more minutes until mom ran the same test again. Although I’d question her rulings, I never once convinced her to pull the pan off the burner prematurely.
It was fun to chat with Kim tonight as we both took turns stirring the last 15 minutes. Our kids will devourer the pies topped with whipped cream tomorrow.
I doubt they will understand it’s now 4 am, and I just put the four finished pies in the fridge. Covered by 4 squares of wax paper.
Just like my mom taught me.
It doesn’t seem so long ago when I’d run home from school and beg mom to cut me a pink grapefruit the size of a softball.
Mom was a surgeon with a paring knife. She was able to cut each section just so making it simple for me to spoon out. It would be years before I’d be trusted to do the same.
Because all bets were off when I was hungry and mom wasn’t around.
Anytime I cut bread or vegetables I’d pull out the huge knife that came free with a 3 room carpet install. It looked like one of those knives you see on late night infomercials. You know, the ones shown cutting through tin cans, tires and tennis shoes?
It had a slippery plastic handle that increased the chance of injury and excitement. Its menacing blade was ideal for cutting through meat or bone or small trees. It’s a miracle I avoided even one trip to the emergency room from using this beast.
I thought about this time I spent with my mother as I cut a grapefruit for each of the kids tonight. I’m not as skilled as my mom was but the kids are forgiving.
As long as I sprinkle the right about of sugar on top.
The kids love everything about the grapefruit. They love how it makes the kitchen smell. They love how each section perfectly fills the spoon. And they love to squeeze the excess juice into a bowl to drink later.
In this culture of take-out and microwavable dinners there’s something satisfying about slicing a good old fashioned grapefruit.
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We’ve enjoyed buying fruit and vegetable from local stands and farms this summer. Kim took the kids to pick fresh blueberries yesterday and it was so popular that, when we returned this afternoon, they were all picked out. We’ll go back in a week when the next crop ripens. They are delicious and only $2/pound. Kim and kids filled a large box for twenty bucks. They make great snacks even when frozen.
When we moved to Auburn three years ago we didn’t realize how many local farms were in the area. We enjoy driving down the small scenic roads searching for new farms to visit. It’s always fresh and delicious and well worth the extra time and expense it requires.
We stopped Mosby Brothers Farms today and plan to go back tomorrow to purchase some peaches. I took a picture of their sign which lists the in season produce. I love the feel of these small town farms and the people who run them. Most are family run there’s a genuine pride in what they sell. They appear to love what they do.
I’ve noticed the local Albertsons has started hanging signs in their produce sections designating items that were grown locally. I hope all supermarkets do the same.
Where do you purchase your produce?
I started snacking on sunflower seeds my sophomore year in high school during baseball season. It was either seeds or chewing tobacco and “the chew” grossed me out back then as much as it does today. Plus, my dad was my coach and he would have kicked my butt to Provo if he caught me packing a cheek full of Skoal Bandits. The cool name was overshadowed by the lip cancer.
I still love sunflower seeds though and I keep a few packs at my computer at all times. Kim can’t stand stand the sound I make while cracking them but it’s the whole spitting the shell into the plastic cup that drives her to turn up the music to drown out the sound. But I continue to snack on seeds because:
- They are a low carb snack
- They have a lot of fiber
- They take some skill to crack open
- My kids can’t figure out how to eat them
- They come in Ranch flavor (YES!)
- Their motto is “Eat. Spit. Be Happy”
- They remind me of baseball season and many great memories
Lately my kids have been asking to try some so I give them a single seed and watch them try to crack it open. The first time I gave Lincoln one he played with it for a few minutes before popping it in his mouth and eating the shell and seed. He’s not asked for another once since then.
But today Luca figured out how to bite down on the shell to extract the seed and I was more proud than disappointed now that I’ll have a partner in crime. One of these days I’ll have to show her how to crack through a cheek full of seeds.
Kim’s going to need a louder set of speakers.