Monday, January 28, 2008

Good eatin'

I am reading But Enough About Me by Jancee Dunn right now. It's lots of fluffy fun.

I was struck by this recipe she included about a typical meal her mother would make:

"Brown some hamburger, then open a can of cream of mushroom soup and dump it in. Then add a can of cheese soup (when it is thwapped into the skillet, it will retain a jiggly can shape); finally, pour in a can of water. Stir until gray and mildly lumpy. Serve over a pile of white bread that has been ripped into bite-sized chunks."

Ahhh, the stuff of my childhood. I can cause my mother to go into a fluster of defensiveness even now by reminding her that she used to regularly serve us instant mashed potatoes made from those freeze-dried flakes. Those flakes were also handy in case you needed to hang wallpaper.

Remember Kraft macaroni and cheese? With a color orange not found in nature? (A secret shame is that i still actually like that stuff. Please don't tell.)

More awful stuff we used to eat instead of food:

Hamburger Helper. A clever concoction of chemicals designed to make hamburger and noodles look like you cared.

Remember those diet fudge things with the unfortunate name of Ayds? I swear i am not making that up. They were awful, but i used to sneak them anyway.

Wonder Bread. It was cool because you could squish the soft bread into little pellets and fling them at your brother with a spoon.

Frozen bags of various vegetables from the Giant that were designed to be microwaved and served right from the bag.

Minute steaks. Big flat frozen patties of some substance that resembled meat separated by waxed paper squares. You would just peel one from the frozen pile and fry it on up without defrosting first.

Canned peas. Why were they such an odd color, and so mushy?

Oh oh, and those snow ball pastries! Big pink half domes that would never ever go bad. The downside was that they tasted like Comet.

I bet you have more.


furiousBall said...

I remember all that stuff. Oh, oh, oh - how about Fluffer Nutter Sandwiches? Marshmallow and peanut butter sandwiches, no wonder everyone has diabetes now.

Liv said...

nobody ever gave me a fluffer nutter.

but, i do recall a lot of monochromatic meals to include yellow canned corn, those potato flakes, some form of chicken or pork (at our house, it's called "chork"), fruit cocktail, le seuer peas, or maybe 1/2 a canned pear.

mom also made "beef stroganoff" which was hamburger, cream of mushroom soup, and water over rice.


Allison Horner said...

No offense to my Momma, whose cooking I love, but one meal that used to and still does makes me gag almost to the point of dry heaving is creamed chip beef on toast AKA sh*t on shingles. Good gravy that is so nasty. BLEH!

My hubby told me he actually had to eat Spam as a child. Mmm....canned mystery meat....

OK, time to go yak now. BLEH!

TTQ said...

I can remember eating everything from liver and onions (ok so I got sent to my room before having to eat it) to lobsters that we raced across the kitchen floor and that if you listened real hard you could hear them scream when dropping them into pots of boiling water...

Oh and I used to eat bologna and cheese on wonderbread with mayo. and I liked it.

I did like mac and cheese (box kind only still to this day) that mom put leftover christmas ham into.

Diane Mandy said...

How about Manwich.... bleh!

I also had a friend who won a contest by using SPAM as the main ingredient. Can you believe they still make this stuff?

fiwa said...

Ack! Stop - you're giving me nightmares! I remember those Ayds things - my 2nd grade teacher kept them in her desk, and one day one of the boys snuck one. She must have seen him do it, because she obviously knew who had done it. Later that afternoon she announced to the entire class that we were going to have a new class member, because Dwayne was going to turn into a girl from eating her diet aid. What a cow - that little boy spent the rest of the afternoon terrified that he was going to turn into a girl. Thinking back, I'm really surprised that woman didn't get fired. I also remember her calling me a dork one day when I was a little too hyper.

Anonymous said...

I've heard that Fluff is an East Coast phenomenon.

My mother had many uses for Stouffers Welsh Rarebit. Used to make mac & cheese, and actual Welsh Rarebit (which is a step above chipped beef on toast).

We also ate real rabbit and even squirrel on occasion because the "hunting" dog needed a little exercise or my Dad couldn't shoot us so he had to shoot something. One of those.

Spam, yeah. It's not that bad. Liver & onions - I would cry. Also, there was one year they made VATS of chop suey, which mostly featured a ton of cooked celery which has got to be one of the top five worst foods (though I can eat it now).

Oh, the canned fruit as part of the evening meal - that was a given! Usually over cottage cheese. Unless it was tomatoes over cottage cheese with a TON of black pepper. My mother would pepper everything until I was in tears, begging her to please remember tomorrow that I don't LIKE pepper, I'm just a little kid.

In later years, she moved on to Molly McButter. She can't just put it on the table so those who want to partake, can. Oh no. Your veggies will arrive peppered with that chemical concoction.

Now I've got to hit the kitchen and create my legacy, but how I could go on, if given the time.

ms chica said...

My mother would cook (and I use the term loosely) cheese toast in the microwave. She would put a slice of processed cheese on bread and nuke it in the wave. It emerged a soggy piece of limp bread covered in chemicals. I promptly fed it the family dog.

Princess in Galoshes said...

scrapple *gag*

I think you had to be a hick in Delaware to ever try this nastinest. Think generic spam, except grosser. Because you know it's pig carcass leftovers. (hooves, etc.)

Happily, MY mother did not "make" it. Just my friend's mom. I may barf just thinking about it.

Lynnea said...

How about canned ham - wtf? Or those little canned sausages - vienna sausages. We used to make sandwiches with those, a little mayo on white bread and chemical sausages. I admit I still love eating those foul things straight from the can. And about your still loving the unnatural orange pasta - I do too, I like to pour a little homemade catalina dressing over it. Mmmm.

meno said...

Oh this is a HOOT! You all have such great stuff.

furious, Fluffer Nutter must be that marshmallow fluffy shit. Oh god is it nasty! Sugar and preservatives.

liv, yes, we had Orange Food Day every so often. Mac-n-cheese, breaded pork chop and canned peaches, or something like that.

alli, SOS is what we called it, until my mom figured out what we were saying. Spam is really something.

ttq, liver and onions, oh yak me up a hairball now! We ate bologna with mayo and ketchup on white bread. looked like a used....oh never mind.

diane, manwich! Excellent memory. Sloppy joes that could only be eaten wearing a flannel shirt! For T-day this year my SIL had me help her by making mushrooms stuffed with spam and cream cheese. 60 of them. I didn't touch one to my lips.

fiwa, what an excellent story. that's why we are all so tough, from the abuse heaped upon us by pissed of adults. I can remember my 4th grade teacher telling me that i was ugly now, because i had glasses.

de, yes, my mother was a champ with the rarebit too. Fondue, over broccoli, mixed with hamburger. I forgot about "fruit" salad which was canned pears over cottage cheese. all on an iceberg lettuce leaf. We then put mayo on top of that. Molly McButter! I can't even imagine what was in that shit. Remember Bacos?

ms.chica, oh, that's nasty. I remember the Mister's mother making us Nacho. Yes, singular. She would take corn tortillas, break them into a few pieces, cover with cheese and broil. We each got one for a snack.

princess, scrapple? Even the name sounds vomitous.

maggie, canned ham! Then she would cover it with brown sugar, attach canned pineapple with a toothpick and heat it up. I never got into vienna sausages, guess i missed out.

Dick said...

I still like Spam. Especially made into a sandwich. There probably isn't much in the way of a food thingy that is more plastic like than un-cooked Spam. Of course I do cook it first before eating. Pat thinks I am crazy. At least about liking Spam.

Mignon said...

We lived in Eugene. My mom put wheat germ in everything and I had to make my peanut butter and jelly sandwiches from the homemade peanut butter out of the bulk food bin at the co-op. Do you know what it's like trying to spread that stuff on stale multi-grain bread when it's straight out of the fridge. Like 3-day-old Play-Doh.

But we also got Kraft mac'n'cheese, and yes, I still adore it too.

QT said...

I am in the mignon camp - we had to eat multi-grain breads ALWAYS. I never ate Kraft Mac n Cheese until I was in high school and had it at a friends house...we also had to eat wheat germ cookies, drink carrot juice (made with our own Champion juicer!!)and eat natural peanut butter - or fuck it, almond butter if that was on the menu.

My dad's only concession was on the weekends - we were allowed to eat junk food, but usually we opted to go out for Burger King or pizza.

Anonymous said...

I still use frozen veggies, steamed right in the bag in the microwave. They taste the closest to fresh, in my opinion, and that's my story. I'm stickin' to it.

And also, my cupboard is ALWAYS stocked with the original Kraft Mac & Cheese. I have been known, on more than one occasion, to eat an entire box unto my own self.

Do you remember the frozen "french fries" made out of carrots or peas or broccoli? Yeah. My mom LOVED her some fake french fries.

My favorite mom/food story, though, involves Taco Bell. We got one in our fair city when I was in Jr. High. My mother, thinking she'd surprise us, stopped there for dinner one evening. She came home with a bag full of Bell Burgers. Not a single taco anywhere to be found. For the record, the Bell Burgers were heinous and quickly disappeared off of the Taco Bell menu. I am an eye witness to the oh-so-right-ness of that business decision.

Mrs. Chili said...

Oh, Lordy! Thanks for calling up all THOSE memories.

I grew up New England white trash; I've got a litany of horrendous foods from my childhood:

boil-in bag chicken a'la king

scrambled hamburger (which was hamburger in some sort of vile gravy served over lumpy mashed potatoes. I'm gagging just thinking about it)

canned wax beans

Hungry Man frozen fried chicken dinners

American chop suey, often made with (brace yourselves) leftover scrambled hamburger

Oh yeah - those were the days.

Anonymous said...

I was very jealous of our neighbors' food. Spaghettios in particular, those wonderfully sweet, mushy pasta Os. And cake mix! Oh to have cake mix and frosting from a can! Other people's food was always better.

Except - once a babysitter served me baked beans at her house and I was mortified because I couldn't bring myself to eat them but hated to have bad manners. I must have been 5 or 6 but have never forgotten the terror. Food I didn't want to eat? THAT never happened before! What to do?!? What to do?!?

My mother was a good cook who made everything "from scratch." Except for salad dressing, she used Good Seasonings Italian packets. Once I caught my friend Teri drinking that dressing from the little carafe - she really loved it. Our family had pizza and Coke (my mother called it "Co-Cola") on Sunday nights but I didn't have McDonalds or anything like that for a long time.

Anonymous said...

fluffer nutter! man, those were the best sandwiches ever! I did all the cooking for the year that I lived with daddy before he and mama remarried; sadly the only two things I knew how to make were hamburger helper and pancakes. we were both really glad when mama moved in and started fixin us some real grub. except for the frozen salisbury steaks that daddy frequently requested. he and stuart loved those, the rest of us just call it dog food.

Anonymous said...

oh, how could I forget the canned la choy? we ate alot of that during our mother-less year. do you have any idea know how long it was before I found out that real chinese food didn't taste like la choy?

luckyzmom said...

My Mom made spaghetti sauce with chili powder until they came out with the sauce mix packets. Gross.

Also, we would go out to a dairy farm in Snohomish once a week to get a five gallon can of milk. Mom would take the cream off the top and make butter, which she added much too much salt to.

No Kraft Mac & for me. One of my favorite things though, was the macaroni and cheese that was served in the cafeteria at school.

Steak-ums. Need I say more.

Mother of Invention said...

I still love KD or "Cardboard Dinner" as we called it in college! And weiners and beans! We used to eat canned tomatoes on toast which of course didn't stay toasty too long! And creamed corn...yuck!
I know those Ayds things!
Swanson's TV Dinners!
Don't know the pastry things though.

Mother of Invention said...

Oh nobody knows is canned cream of mushroom soup, on bread and broiled in the oven...
And the old tuna casserole with potato chips!

flutter said...

My dad marinated everything in italian dressing, everything.

noodles? dressing, turkey? dressing. chicken? dressing, stuffing? dressing


meno said...

dick, you LIKE spam? I'm so ashamed for you. :)

mignon, you were being redundant after you said you lived in Eugene. Yes, i have tried to spread that cold peanut butter. It's like cement sludge.

qt, so you were an abused child? The Mister's dad became a health food weirdo when he got old, and would try to get us to eat lecithin (sp?) and one of his homemade 2" high loaves of bread that weighed 8 pounds.

jennifer, frozen beat canned anyday. But the ones from the giant have all kinds of chemicals and hydrogenated oil conveiniently mixed right in. Krinkle cut carrots! Oh yes, i remember.

mrs.chili, you are welcome. :) Hungry Man frozen dinners. My favorite was the Salisbury steak one that came with a little dessert in the corner.

anne, do they still sell spaghettios? I loved beefaroni, into which i would melt some american cheese, just because it wasn't greasy enough on it's own.

holly, man, i missed out on the fluffer nutter thing. I like pancakes. :) that canned La Choy is utter shit, with the texture of snot to top it off.

luckyzmom, i went to dinner at someone's house once who made their spaghetti sauce out of ketchup. I wonder if chili powder is grosser. Steak-ums! YES!

moi, Does anyone use busquick anymore? We used to add waterm make little dough balls, deep fry them, and then roll them in cinnamon and sugar. They were called "durn goods." Ha ha.

flutter, oh god, that's loathsome.

wordsong said...

The disgusting food of yesteryear.

SUEB0B said...

All that and more. Cream of Mushroom soup and mayonnaise were the universal solvents.

Salad - grated carrots, raisins, crushed pineapple and yes, mayonnaise.

Christmas Salad - layer of green jello, layer of yellow jello mixed with cream cheese, mayo and crushed pineapple, layer of red jello.

Casserole - Tater tots, browned ground beef, cheddar cheese soup. Bake.

Is it any wonder that I am a tofu-loving, hempseed-eating freak?

AC said...

My best friend from South Dakota loved to make "hot Dish" for dinner, even for company!! for parties!!! It was browned hamburger, cream of tomato soup, velveeta cheese mixed in and topped with tater tots.

I vividly remember my dad taking me fishing and the highlight of the early morning out in the boat was when he would break out the vienna sausage can and the stack of saltines. He would let me stab my sausage out with his jack knife, just as he did. We drank our soda (for breakfast!! yea for not having mom around!!!) out of one of those collapsable metal cups

TTQ said...

You know all this food reminds me of hospital food. Which I will not eat, I make people bring me food. Either from the vending machine or just plain real fresh fruit will do if they can't find something I'll eat. I would rather be on a sugar drip than eat that crap they send up.

Lynn said...

I think I am going to be sick! What about Tang? The orange powder that astronauts use.

Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
meno said...

maid moniker, oh those are great. i spent some time looking through the knox jello cookbook. Yikes.

suebob, i begin to see your inspiration you birkenstock-shod, hemp-clad hippie. The Christmas salad looks especially tasty.

ac, Great! a new recipe to try. :)

ttq, hospital food isn't even consider food i think. I don't blame you a bit.

lynn, how could i forget Tang? Do they even make that anymore.

bob, we pushed one of your buttons. Sorry. I don't actually think they make Ayds or mashed potato flakes anymore. Plus real potatoes are cheaper. When we were poor we ate mostly rice, beans and pasta. I think the food chemistry industry went a little crazy back in the 50s and 60s.

Anonymous said...

They do so make potato flakes! And bacos, which actually are made of soy, so there is a definite market for them.

Mona Buonanotte said...

Hey, Meno? With our kids, we eat a lot of that stuff now...Kraft mac 'n cheese, Wonder Bread, minute steaks, canned peas. I've even bought them Twinkies. And for the first time ever, last Sunday I made burgers smothered with mushroom soup and onions and served over of my mom's dishes that I was never ever gonna make when "I" was a mom...but I got the "craving"....

And I do remember Ayds...I thought the more you ate, the more weight you lost. HAH! Another trick!

heartinsanfrancisco said...

My mother was big on Le Seuer canned petite peas. I think she considered them exotic because they had a French name.

I hated nearly everything on my plate when I was a child.

My first night in boarding school (yes, they got sick of watching me not eat and sent me away) I was introduced to the favorite dorm sandwich, Kraft American cheese, peanut butter and marshmallow fluff on Wonder bread. I was grossed out but wanted to fit in, and thus began the erosion of my soul.

Unknown said...

What's sad is that I still feed my family some of this crap, like hamburger helper and orange mac&cheese and instant potatoes. If I cook things from scratch, the hubby always has something to say about it. If I make crap, he doesn't complain... I don't understand, but since the crap is easier to make, I go with it.

And when I was growing up, my mom even called that SOS. :)

Heather said...

Here from Princess in Galoshes - don't know why it's taken me so long because your comments always make me laugh...

My mother was not a good cook either - and to this day I refuse Hamburger Helper's presence in my home - BARF.

Funny story...when I was 13 and my mom brought home would-be step-daddy #2, she put on this big "home cooking" show for him and my sibs were asking when dinner would be ready. She said, frustrated, "I don't know - how long does it take me to make mashed potatoes?" I was being an angst-filled, I hate this guy you brought home from a bar, 13 year old and sneered - "How would they know - you normally make them from a box." I was such a snark, lol.

Candy said...

They absolutely still make Tang. My kids love it.

I remember Scooter Pies...I don't think they still make those, but I loved em.

But the biggest tragedy is the loss of Alpha-Bits. Oh yes, I know they still make a sugar free version, but come on...WHAT IS THE POINT?

Anonymous said...

lard! I forgot lard. and my aunt who grew up in a coal minin town in the hollers of kentucky used to fix us macaroni in tomato juice. she called it her famous 'elbow soup'. oh, and mama would crush up saltines or ritz-whichever we had on hand-in a glass, pour milk over them and eat them with a spoon! ugh.

Anonymous said...

1,2,3 Jello, it was the most disgusting thing. And yes, I still love KD. It's comforting and if you don't feel like chewing, you can just swallow it.

Not that I would ever do that. Of course not.

Oh yeah, and I'm freezing my ass off. With the wind chill this morning is was -53C.

TTQ said...

spa-gehtto-eo's? Has that not been mentioned yet?

Dianne said...

All of this is such a wonderful trip down the lane of culinary horror.

My Mom used to stretch canned tomotoe sauce by putting water in the ketchup bottle and adding that in.

I will confess to making my son sandwiches with Golden Circles white bread. He loved all food round.

Gotta go - I'm dying for some orange mac & cheese. :)

100 Thoughts of Love said...

Fav olden days treat....
marshmallows melted (under the broiler) on saltine cracker

my mom once fried eggplant and claimed it was french fries

fav sunday night supper......
biscuits, cheese, sardines, hardboiled eggs..

fav sandwich...
cream cheese and olive on white bread; or bologna on white bread with mayo

but spam or vienna wienies, I mean sausages..NEVER!!!

Joan said...

What I remember most is canned veggies...especially asparagus. My mom would yell at me for taking a can of them, opening it up and eating them as a snack...a very expensive snack in those days. Now that I regularly eat the wonderfully steamed fresh ones, the thought of eating the dingy green slimy things in the can makes me want to retch.

Anonymous said...

Canned peas are terrible. And I don't remember the Ayds at all. I really liked those steak ums though. mmmmm.

meno said...

de, oh my goodness. i guess i have been shopping in the wrong section of the store.

mona, Kraft m&c is practically required when you have small children. I know we ate a lot of it when Em was young.

hearts, that really is an awful sounding sandwich, Which i would have cheerfully eaten as a child.

andrea, we still eat potato chips. So i can't point any fingers.

ramblin' red, welcome. We never ate HH either. Only because my mom didn't think of it. Whoa, sounds like you had reason to be snarky.

candy, i don't think my child has ever had Tang. I better remedy that right away.

holly, we didn't use lard. I bet it was good. Never heard of the saltine soup before.

deb, i LOVED 123 jello. It was hard to wait while it too time to separate. It was a special treat we had at my grandmothers.

ttq, yes, they, along with beefaroni, have been mentioned. So soft and gooey.

dianne, remember making "tomato soup" from ketchup? Yeah! That's the stuff.

pat, that sandwich sounds like head cheese. Remember head cheese?

joan, i hated asparagus until i finally had some fresh ones. I don't even think they are the same food.

my pool, you are probably too young to have had Ayds. :)

H said...

I still like kraft slices in a white bread sandwich with crisps (or chips). Preferably cheese and onion flavour. Mmmmmmm.

peevish said...

My high school Big Boyfriend called the pink snowball things "Fairie Titties", and he loved them.

About 2 weeks ago, I was so damned tired and a little depressed that I actually had a tiny, well maybe medium-sized, craving for Hamburger Helper. I'm the only one who cooks in this house, and I just wanted some Stroganoffy/goulashy kind-of affair with minimal effort. But I remained strong, did not cave in to my Childhood Food Memories. I do still kind of want it, though. Followed by Strawberry-flavored cake made with a boxed mix. Eew! But Yum!

Anonymous said...

You're writing about these things like they aren't still favorites of families all over the nation! These things still go over really well with 9 and 5 year olds... first hand knowledge....

Tink said...

I thought that said, "brown sugar hamburger" instead of "brown some hamburger." I was all like, "Man, that could be goooood!" LOL.

Mermaid Melanie said...

space bars. remember those?

gary rith said...

your post has about a lifetime's worth of salt, which was like smoking back then--everywhere

Mother of Invention said...

Bisquick? Sure! Wrap the dough around a stick and toast in the campfire..then stick awful cheap berryless strawberry jam in the hole and you have doughboys! A summer camp special!

Anonymous said...

Aha! So why didn't you point me here in the first place?

So hamburger isn't the kind of hamburger that you get from MacDonalds, it's something else?

Is it mince?