Every time I see a mother out shopping with her children trying to keep her goals in mind while the young ones clamor for everything the mother is not going to put in her grocery cart, I recall my own moments. Children are born with taste buds already acclimated to junk food and parents battle their inclinations from day one.
Children like recognizable food. If they can’t conveniently pick it up in their hands, they might not eat it. And, if the food, can be fried, grilled, or breaded, so much the better.
Unfortunately, the week before payday doesn’t always allow us the luxury of chunks of meat or chicken. This is when the bane of most children appears . . . casseroles!
Casseroles were invented when there was one shred of meat, two carrots, and a sprouted potato left in the larder. Whether it is a larder or refrigerator of today, we often have the same culinary scenario. This is when your motherly skills all come into play.
“Mom! What is that brown, crusty stuff on top of my food?”
“It is melted cheese. Eat it! Don’t take it off or you will be sorry!”
“Mom! There’s no meat under the brown, crusty stuff!”
“See! Didn’t I tell say you’d be sorry!”
For variation, all you have to do is add liquid to leftover casserole and you have soup. This is about as popular as casserole. Your children carefully skim tiny spoonfuls of broth from the surface of their soup bowls. There are whispered discussions and long, intent looks into their bowls. You get the impression that the appearance of the Loch Ness Monster from the depths of their soup would come as little surprise to them.
All the cookbooks and meal planners suggest stretching meals with a big salad. Salad often fits into my week before payday budget. Unfortunately, the children are all for drowning it in their soup and covering it with brown, crusty stuff.
Husbands should be supportive but, sometimes, they just can’t help what happens. Faced with a big bowl of mixed salad greens (two-pound bag on the ‘next stop, eternity’ used vegetable counter!), he tries to be encouraging.
“Children! Your mother works hard all day to fix us this wonderful dinner . . .”
“Dad! I don’t recognize this leaf!”
“It’s nettles, dear.”
“Dad! Nettles aren’t edible! It’s probably crab grass. Mom put crab grass in our salad!”
“Sweetheart! It’s not crab grass. I meant to say endive not nettles.”
“Dad! Do I have to eat the curly leaves?”
“If you want dessert, you do.”
“We have dessert tonight?”
“Well, no, but if we were having dessert, you could have some if you ate the curly leaves, too. Since we aren’t having dessert, you still have to eat the curly leaves so you don’t die of starvation by morning!”
“Dad! I think I saw something crawling in my salad . . .”
“Enough! I have heard enough complaints about dinner. I want you to all be quiet and eat your weeds! I mean, salad!”
Marriages are made in Heaven but I bet they happen before the salad course.
Well, California is a State that has plenty of Fall bonfires (aka wild brush fires!) around this time of year but we can still put some good smelling holiday scents in the air with this cake. Yeah, cheating a bit starting with a cake mix but in the hurry of the holidays and with the enrichment ingredients, no one will guess it’s lowly origins and happily indulge in a serving or two. AND, don’t forget some holiday sprinkles when you frost the cake! Batter will work for cupcakes, too.
Thanksgiving Pumpkin Spice Cake
1 Spice Cake Mix
3/4 Cup mayonnaise
1 16 oz can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon grated orange zest
Cream Cheese Frosting:
1 8oz. Package Cream Cheese (softened)
1/4 Cup Butter or Margarine (softened)
3 Cup Confectioners Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla Extract
Mix all of the pumpkin bar ingredients in a bowl just until combined well. Pour in a greased 13×9 cake pan and bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes until toothpick comes out of the center clean. Cool completely.
While the cake is cooling, cream the cream cheese and the butter together in your mixer bowl until quite fluffy. Mix in the powdered sugar ½ cup. at a time until well blended. Add vanilla, orange zest, and mix well. Chill in refrigerator until the cake is completely cool, frost and serve.
Suppose you purchased tickets for a raffle and finally, for the first time in your life, actually won something . . . Would you claim your prize or change your home phone number:
1. Choice of king or queen size mattress from the Used Mattress Outlet. Fumigation expenses the responsibility of the winner.
2. Free bail bond – must be used within six months of receipt.
3. Two cubic yards of ready mix concrete delivered to your door on even numbered days if they fall on a Wednesday, between one and two in the morning.
4. Free laser eye surgery from the Derby School of Eye Surgery. (You’ve seen their ad in matchbook covers)
5. Free like-mahogany casket. Must take immediate delivery. Only used once!
6. Free steam cleaning of your front door mat. Good only with cost of carpet cleaning of your entire home.
7. Free bridal dress and accessories. Bride must be born prior to 1948 and wear a size five.
8. Free termite inspection. The company’s motto is We Always Find Bugs. A two percent discount on subsequent treatment of your home.
9. Twenty-five years of life insurance, premium-free. Must be five years or under to qualify.
10. Your grain milled free for a year. Minimum poundage per visit, one ton. Complimentary bale of hay with each visit
(Although I’ve ‘won’ some ‘interesting’ raffle prizes over the years, these (I hope!), are figments of my overactive imagination!)