Remember how I mentioned in part one about taking the short way to Ms. Alice’s house and how there were ponds on the way?
On some mornings, mist would hover over the ponds. My father always referred to this as “witch’s brew.” But there were no known witches living around, or they certainly kept themselves well hidden.
Also, if a witch were using an entire pond for her brew, she was, in my opinion, being quite wasteful.
That brings us to the sight of driving up to Ms. Alice’s house: on the cold days, smoke billowed out of her chimney into the air. This was a promise of a warm and inviting house in the chill air.
Yes, Ms. Alice’s house had a real, honest-to-goodness fireplace in her small living room, and Mr. Charlie would throw actual wood that had been chopped down into the fire to burn it! In front of the fireplace was a small screen that kept the firewood and embers from falling out. I can still remember the fire pokers and the holder for the fire pokers. I can’t remember exactly what they looked like, though one of them was a brush, probably used to sweep up ashes.
The fireplace kept the house warm and toasty. We mainly stayed in the living room, then there was the dining room, then there was the kitchen. Beyond the kitchen was a series of back rooms where the bathroom was.
These days, some people still have fireplaces, but more often than not, we use gas heaters, electric heaters, and central heating and air. I count myself as lucky for having been in a home that used a fireplace at all, because today it seems to more of an aesthetic thing in house, not a practicality.
There’s something to be said for an actual fire in the fireplace. Mankind has long used actual fire to keep warm; it’s only in the past few centuries we’ve progressed enough technologically to use other sources to heat ourselves. A fireplace connects every human being to their heritage.
Now, since this is a food blog: on to the food!
Lunch at Ms. Alice’s house usually came fairly early. I still haven’t figured out why we always ate so early, but we did, usually before the Price is Right came on.
So, the food she made: oh, the FOOD she made!
Rice. Her rice was white rice- she would put it on a plate, cut a hunk of butter and drop it into the steaming rice, stir it profusely until all the butter had melted into the rice, and then we would eat. I’ve since never eaten rice as good as hers. It was amazingly delicious and moist, and most rice I eat today tastes dried out and bland in comparison.
I don’t remember if she put salt and pepper on it or not.
Pizza. Yes, Ms. Alice would make pizza for us. She made it out of the Chef Boyardee kits, the ones where you have to actually mix and roll out the two. It was pretty close to being made entirely from scratch. When she finished cooking the pizza, she would put it on a plate and cut it into tiny, bite-sized squares so that we would be able to fit them in our mouth.
To this day, I’ve never found pizza that quite tastes like the kind she made. The closest, and I mean absolute closest, are the Totino’s Brand Party Pizza in the frozen food section. That kind of thin, textured crust is the kind of pizza we ate.
Beanie weenies. We would have a meal of beans that had weenies cut up into it. I can’t remember if this was something she made from scratch or if it came prepared that way. Either way, it was delicious. There was no such thing as too many weenies in your beanies, either.
The bread and biscuits at her house. Ms. Alice had no shortage of bread, and I mean real bread- she would keep it in a metal bowl with a towel covering it. This was the kind of biscuits and bread that is very fluffy and has a slightly salty taste to it. Absolutely delicious.
I’m pretty sure she also cut open biscuits for us and put butter in between the top and the bottom. This memory is a bit more distant, though.
Sometimes we also had macaroni and cheese, but I can’t remember anything distinctive about it. I’m sure we also had fried chicken, and it was all good.
AUTHOR’S NOTE: I was informed through a comment on Part 1 that I also loved fish sticks when I was a kid at Ms. Alice’s house. I can’t remember this clearly, but I did eat fish sticks a lot when I was a kid.
If I can remember anything else she made back in those days for lunch, I’ll be sure to post it in the next blog. Otherwise, I’m moving on to snacks and desserts.