Welcome to the . . .

This month’s Museum of Me exhibit is all about . . . the foods we eat now that we never imagined eating as a child.

But. Where to even START with this one? Because this is a topic that is both deep and wide when it comes to the culinary differences in my life between now . . . and then.  I know I’ve alluded to some of this in posts before . . . How my mom was not really all that interested in cooking — and how the “convenience” food trends of the late 1950s/1960s influenced her menu planning in a big way. How my dad just inhaled his food anyway, and didn’t really care all that much what it was . . . as long is it was meat-and-potatoes (and that meat was pork or beef and it was very well-done, thankyouverymuch). Our meals were basic, 1960s fare: a meat, a potato, and a (most often) canned vegetable.  That said, I never went hungry. I was grateful for dinners with my family every day. I didn’t complain much (except about the vegetables, and especially the canned peas and the creamed corn). And . . . I didn’t know any better. All my friends, my cousins, my neighbors . . . they all had similar meals around their tables. (We did, though, enjoy big, special family meals for holidays — and we always got to pick our favorite foods on our birthdays.) (I always chose lasagne. And a chocolate birthday cake.)

So. It would be easiest for me to reverse this topic and just tell you all the foods I ate regularly as a child . . . that I can’t imagine eating now! So to make it quick, here goes: canned vegetables (notably creamed corn), mashed potatoes from a box, overcooked pork chops, overcooked meatloaf, overcooked eggs, sugary cereals, strawberry milk, shriveled overcooked hamburgers, Velveeta cheese, Cambell’s Cream of Mushroom soup, and rhubarb pie (there’s a story there; bonus if you keep reading).

My current diet? Not even remotely similar to my childhood diet. Different ballparks (different universes) entirely. So this looked like an exhibit I could just walk away from with very little effort with this simple statement:

Every single thing I eat now . . . I couldn’t have imagined eating as a child. End. Of. Story.

But then I remembered this . . .


and decided to take this exhibit in a whole new direction!

This was my mom’s cookbook. In fact, it was the only cookbook she owned when I was a child (we referred to it as “the cookbook,” as in . . . the only one). She received it as a gift at her wedding shower in 1956 — when the second edition of the Betty Crocker cook book was hot off the presses (featuring more photos and expanded menu planning tips and new drawings!). She didn’t use it all the time, but it was her single cooking reference, and when she needed inspiration or instruction . . . this is the book she turned to! (It was also my first cookbook when I was learning to bake cookies.) She also had a recipe box stuffed full of recipes from friends and relatives and co-workers and magazines, and that’s where my mom stored most of her tried-and-true recipes. But when she wanted to pull out the stops, she pulled out the Betty Crocker.

When my mom died, I took the Betty Crocker Cook Book home with me. Now it sits on my shelf alongside my more modern favorites. I like to get it out now and again . . . it’s full of memories for me. The book automatically opens up to one of two pages: EITHER the page that features recipes for Chocolate Chip Cookies, Old-Time Cinnamon Jumbles (think Snickerdoodles), and Sugar Cookies — all favorites from my childhood, OR it opens to the page with the Swedish Meatball recipe — a Christmas Eve staple in our family.


I’ve also discovered some real treasures within the pages of my mom’s cookbook . . . like this receipt from the butcher for our Christmas Eve feast back in 1966! (Prime rib. She was going for the Big Time that year!) (But I’ll bet it was overcooked. Just sayin.) And . . . the recipe for Almond Crescent cookies. Now those cookies were one of my favorite Christmas cookies when I was a child. At some point, though, my mom stopped making them (likely subbing some newer, tasty cookie – that didn’t require rolling out – along the way). I always remembered them, though, and as an adult, I asked her for the old recipe. We looked and looked for it — through all of the recipes in her recipe box and her recipe folder. We couldn’t find it anywhere! Turns out, though, that it was in the Betty Crocker Cook Book all along! (I may actually try them, now that I’ve found the recipe.) (They were really good, but fussy. And my mom? She was not about the fussy when it came to cooking/baking.)


The best thing I found, though?
It’s this . . .

It’s my mom’s home-baked specialty . . . Fresh Rhubarb Pie (she had the page bookmarked with the Libby’s Famous Pumpkin Pie recipe she always made at Thanksgiving). My mom was not really a pie-baker . . . but she loved a piece of good rhubarb pie served with a generous helping of vanilla ice cream. We ate rhubarb pie all the time when I was growing up; it was a special treat for all of us.

But I never eat rhubarb pie anymore . . . as an adult.
And I’m sure you’re all wondering why.
So. Here’s the bonus story. . .

When Tom and I were first dating, my mom had me invite him over for pie. (I knew she must really like him, because she was making her rhubarb pie just for him.) She served up big pieces of still-warm pie with vanilla ice cream, and we all dug in. When Tom and I left (to go to a movie, probably), I asked him if he liked the pie. He just looked horrified. Because . . . he hated it! He hadn’t ever had rhubarb pie before, and the texture? It gagged him. But he was such a good boyfriend, and he liked my mom so much, that he forced down every bite of his serving. (He claims the ice cream saved him. His strategy was . . . bite of pie, bite of ice cream to chase it down. Repeat.)

He begged me not to tell my mom.

But of course I did.
Because otherwise, she’d have believed he liked it — and he’d have been served it on the regular. It became a family joke; a story we tell (with much love and a lot of laughter) to this day. Because I was a supportive girlfriend (now wife), I gave up rhubarb pie in Tom’s presence. That was his last piece. And, for the most part, mine, too.

Diets change.
Memories remain.


How about YOU? What foods do you eat now . . . that you never imagined eating as a child? (Feel free to reverse that. What foods did you eat as a child . . . that you can’t imagine eating now?)


Thanks for visiting the Museum of Me. Watch for new exhibits . . . on the 2nd Friday of each month. If you’re a blogger and you’d like to create a Museum of Me along with me on your own blog, let me know. I’ll send you our “exhibit schedule” (a list of monthly prompts) and we can tell our stories together.