Monday, February 1, 2010

bad reputation

I know I got a bad reputation
And it isn't just talk, talk, talk
                                          -Freedy Johnston

The sins of the father (or in my case, mother) will visit themselves upon the son 
(likewise, daughter).

I seldom feel the need to exonerate myself.  I usually think that the people who know me, know the real me (aka, the good, the bad and the ugly) and I really can't help the ones who come up with wacky ideas outside of that group.  However, sometimes you just gotta set the record straight.

Let me start by just saying that my mother had some kitchen quirks that did neither herself nor her offspring a whole lot of good.

My mother was a fabulous cook and really tried her best to be a good homemaker,wife and mother.  Being a bride of the late 50's, this defined who she was throughout her entire life.  My mother also grew up without a lot of money and even when my parents were "doing well", she still had that scrape and save mentality.  Wasting food was sacrilegious to her.  Honest to God, we were coaxed to finish everything on our plates with the, "There are starving children in Africa" line.  Because of her deep-seeded kitchen dispositions, she tended to hang on to food a little past it's prime and I am not really sure she bothered with things like expiration dates (except maybe milk, when it smelled bad).  None of us died or ended up in the emergency department, but there are some family stories about food-related mishaps. (Most vivid for me was an *incident* Countrymouse had after eating some chicken salad out of my mother's fridge that left him (literally) bottomless along a major US highway.)

My mother, it seems, learned to cook without any real knowledge of bacteria or other bad culinary stow-aways.  One of my first shopping lessons with her was not to buy swollen cans from the grocer and if something smelled bad, it'd get her attention.  Beyond that, I'm at a loss.  Little things like defrosting at room temperature for extended periods or refrigerating things promptly weren't issues for her. Like I said, none of us died or ended up in the emergency department but looking back on things as an adult, I think there was a lot of grace involved here.

(This is probably a good time to mention that my mother also smoked and drank through all five of her pregnancies and delivered five healthy and happy babies.  There was no convincing her that what she *knew* (experientially) was okay, really wasn't.)

(This is also probably a good time to mention that kids learn from their parents, either directly or by example. Sometimes we learn better ways to do things and sometimes we don't.)

My little brother's wife, J Ro, gets a lot of ribbing within the family for her uber gastronomical sensibilities.  She is my mother's antithesis in the kitchen.  I'd like to think my own sensibilities fall closer to hers than my mothers, but I will admit that I do not live up to J Ro's standards.  I too haven't killed anyone nor have had to rush anyone to the hospital and Countrymouse can only be found bottomless at appropriate times these days, but I'd like to think it's because I am making better decisions. (For the record, yes, I refrigerate perishable leftovers overnight, including pizza and scrapple.)

There is nothing wrong in taking the high road and I aspire to do that in every category of life.  Sometimes it's easier than others and sometimes it involves learning a better way.  So in a tip of the hat to J Ro, and in good fun, I share a blog post by Suburban Correspondent.  Please, please also read the post she links to in this blog entitled, Condiment Overload (or click the link here.  I made it easy for you 'cause I'm good that way).  While it was a segue, I loved the bit about yellow mustard (which I too consider an abomination, but I'm the only one in the mouse house who does).  It was hilarious.  

I'd like to write more, but I am off to double check the expiration dates on my own condiments! (For real.)


  1. hee hee! i throw everything away! i am so paranoid about food spoiling. i'm sure my mom wasn't this hyper.

  2. :-) I love you. And your scrapple!


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