I have decided that, after a half a zillion years of marriage, I am going have some of the comforts of my youth--namely Sunday dinner, although not necessarily on Sunday.
Mom fried the chicken, chicken we raised from chicks. (I'll spare you the somewhat fun-and-fuzzy-baby-chicks details, and also the gory-get-the-now-grown-chickens-dead-and-in-the-freezer details.)
We had mashed potatoes, made in the pressure cooker, whipped to creamy goodness. (No potatoes for me--they are a nightshade vegetable, and seem to make my newly diagnosed arthritic joints practically scream with pain.)
Mom made chicken gravy, using the drippings, milk and thickening (a slurry of water and flour. Mom didn't know the word slurry so it was "thickening"). There will be no chicken gravy as none of us drink milk. I will probably broil the chicken, much easier and it is everyone's favorite.
Fresh tomatoes and crookneck squash from the garden. No tomatoes for me (nightshades) and our squash plants refuse to produce more than one squash a week--even the zucchini. I think they need more fertilizer but we have had the ongoing argument about fertilizer, plus, "the back lawn needs more water" discussion so often that it's just best to ignore the only-one-squash-a-week subject and to secretly put the water on the back lawn every time Phil leaves the house.
The last item on our Sunday dinner was fruit salad made with whipped cream. My sister, Pat, who was the light of everyone's life, and the fun and laughter, too, was always supposed to whip the cream. Which she did, protesting. And the reason she protested was because she always whipped it too long, and it almost turned into butter. Pat was a dreamer and the sound of the beaters took her to fantasies no one else could imagine. The cream could have cried out loud to her, "I'm turning to butter," she wouldn't have heard it. When mother realilzed the sound of the beaters had gone on a long time she would take the portable mixer out of Pat's hands, hang her head, and mutter, "Not again," in a tiny voice. And then she would do some kind of magic with a splash of milk and some vanilla and sugar and she would say, "See, as good as new." Then it would get poured over a drained can of fruit cocktail with whatever fresh fruit was available. Peaches in the fall, bananas and apples in the dead-of-winter and in even the deader-of-winter it was wrinkly apples, brought in from the fruit-room, peeled and chopped fine so no one could really identify them. Mom was a master of making something delicious out of practically nothing.
This afternoon I went to Smith's grocery store because it was the last day of the case lot sale. Since I am intending to re-create Mom's Sunday dinner I bought a case of fruit cocktail. I'm intending to re-create it 24 times.
Tonight was the night. Broiled chicken, truly the backbone of this memorable meal. Phil made his own potatoes in self defense and warmed up the pork gravy from two days ago, also in self defense--or maybe it was not "self defense," maybe it's "self preservation of all things delicious that he loves, that I was not making."
No one sliced a tomato, even though there was a ripe one on the breadboard and more in the garden. No one cooked the lone, shriveling crookneck squash or the one four pound zucchini that the zucchini plant spits out once a week. And, even though the fruit cocktail is still in a box on the living room floor, no one made fruit salad because in order to make fruit salad with whipped cream you need to actually buy some cream. And some peaches and maybe a banana or two.
Phil opened a can of green beans and heated it while his gravy was simmering and his potatoes (potato pearls from Costco, in a box that looks like a milk carton) were waiting for the water to boil. Bless Phil's heart, he may not use enough fertilizer or water the back lawn often enough, but he's a clever man in the kitchen with a can opener and a box of fake food. Without him dinner would have been a one item meal.
So, here's to the Sunday dinners, of our youth. I hope you too, can recreate delicious memories, just like your mom made.