I remembered a few other things, and got some reaction that got me to think, so I thought I’d continue my childhood food memories.
1. Sugar. I have a massive sweet tooth. I always have had it. My mother tells me I used to steal maraschino cherries out of the fridge when I was 2. For a snack (and yeah I know this is gross), I might take some powdered sugar, pour it in a bowl, add water and eat it. THAT’S a sweet tooth. (No, I do not do this anymore. Really. I could, but I don’t.)
2. Spaghettios. I am not certain, but it is possible we were introduced to Spaghettios by my paternal grandmother when we visited her once in Connecticut. We LOVED Spaghettios and it was something we could make ourselves for lunch, so that was permitted. We ate a lot of that and Chef Boyardee. In fact, I ate that through college and perhaps a bit beyond that. So did my husband. DYK? There’s a book about him and his real recipes, before they sold out and did the canned food thing.
3. More cereal. I think at some point, my mother gave up and let us get some of the cereals we craved. My sister used to eat the heck out of some Lucky Charms. Well, actually, mostly she picked out the marshmallows. Maybe she knew what she was doing. She truly is gluten intolerant.
4. Little Debbies. Like I said, Nutter Butters were the cookie of choice, but for some reason, those Zebra Stripe cakes were OK. I’d eat the heck out of those too. (But not those nasty oatmeal pies. OK, only when I really needed my sugar fix.)
5. School lunch. Oh big fail for me here. My mother had me eat the school lunch, until someone ratted me out in second grade that I only ate the roll. So she started to pack my lunch until someone ratted me out that I was throwing it away. (Hey, what can I say, wasn’t a fan of the granola bars back then) So I had to pack my own lunch at a very early age. I guess I did this, but somewhere down the line, I gave up taking lunch all together. I must imagine I was quite hungry when I got home. I did always eat breakfast though!
My point in all of this isn’t that we necessarily ate any worse than we do today. We just ate our junk in other ways. Sure, there are stories about mayo bacon sandwiches and the like, but the truth is that we didn’t eat out that much, we didn’t drink many sodas and we didn’t have high fructose corn syrup and soy in everything we ate. (Soy in moderation, and preferable unprocessed (including tofu) is fine.) Nor had we given into the whole “fat is bad” thing that I believed until recently. You need fat. It just has to be the right fat. For instance, did you know that if you eat spinach without some fat, you won’t get the nutritional benefits of the spinach? Those nutrients are fat soluble! And the eating out, oy, the eating out! Fast food is just … well it’s just not really food of any quality. As for a sit down restaurant, an adult might get a good meal but a kid? Their choices, at restaurants from fern bars to sushi bars tend to be: mac and cheese, chicken nuggets, grilled cheese, hot dogs, pizzas. Comes with fries or a fruit cup (if you’re lucky) and their choice of drink. Which is usually a soda. Folks, these are not good choices for kids. Have you seen how chicken nuggets are made? And where are the veggies?
So as I look back on my childhood eating habits, there’s some bad, sure, but there’s a lot more good than we think.
And a recipe! This is from memory, and it’s my version, which is probably lazier than what my mother does:
- Boil half a box of elbow macaroni according to the directions.
- Cut a kielbasa into slices.
- Take a can of tomato sauce (small) and another of diced tomatoes (also small and can be eliminated, depending on how tomato-y you want it. Mix with some oregano, garlic salt and basil.
- In an 8″ round casserole dish (or even a 9 x 12), put a little bit of sauce on the bottom of the pan. Add a third of the noodles, a third of the kielbasa, some more sauce and sprinkle cheddar cheese. Keep layering until you are out of noodles and kielbasa. The top layer should be more tomato sauce and cheese.
- Bake uncovered for 30 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
OK, next food chapter, Christine goes to college. :-)