Regardless of The Heat and Humidity

Growing up, my family and I resided on the second floor of a three-story apartment building without benefit of a fan or air-conditioning.

Sleep was challenging, to say the least.

“My Childhood Home”

As a child, in what seemed like many hours of trying to fall asleep in a puddle of my own sweat, I finally fell into a sweltering, unsettled sleep.

During those times, in my young life, I didn’t think about how people in the past lived or survived the summer months.

However, as time progresses and we get a little older, we start to wonder about things. I wondered about people throughout history and how they were able to sleep or cook their meals during the stifling heat of summer.

“Wonder is the beginning of wisdom.” ― Socrates

Regardless of the heat and humidity, they still had to sleep and eat.  For sustenance, they cooked stews, roasted meat, and baked bread, etc.

So how did they endure cooking and baking in the extreme heat of summer?

I learned that meals were cooked and baking was done outdoors until the introduction of the wood-burning cook stove which took preparing meals indoors. Great during the colder months, but in the summer-NOT SO MUCH!

To beat the nagging heat already in the house, some erected “Summer Kitchens”. These structures were detached buildings from the main house where all the baking and cooking took place.

1820 summer kitchenBuilt about 1820-Summer kitchen at the Mordecai Lincoln Farm in Berks County, Pennsylvania. 

Which brings me to yesterday’s supper. We cooked and ate fried ravioli, mini Italian meatballs, a quick-pan marinara and we even baked an Olive & Thyme focaccia.

saturday's supper

While I still reflect upon the distant and not so distant past, I gratefully acknowledged that today we can bake bread and cook meals in air-conditioned comfort or outside on our modern grills, spits, or pits.

Watch It Wiggle, See It Jiggle

There was a time, in our recent history of foods, recipes containing gelatin were considered a gastronomic experience.

One of the most recognized brands of gelatin was *Jell-O. In the early part of the 20th century, Jell-O was a revolutionary new product.

In 1897, Pearle Wait, a carpenter in LeRoy, was putting up a cough remedy and laxative tea in his home. He experimented with gelatine and came up with a fruit flavored dessert which his wife, May, named Jell-O. He tried to market his product but he lacked the capital and the experience.

In 1904, Ladies Home Journal launched the printed portion of the first Jell-O “best seller” recipe booklet. Jell-O became a household word with their colored illustrations.

“By 1930, there appeared a vogue in American cuisine for congealed salads, and the company introduced lime-flavored Jell-O to complement the add-ins that cooks across the country were combining in these aspics and salads. Popular Jell-O recipes often included ingredients like cabbage, celery, green peppers, and even cooked pasta”.

And so, the nightmare begins-

A mélange of cottage cheese, vinegar, onions, seafood salad, and  lime Jell-O!

‘Chicken Relish Mold’  combined with pickles and chicken!  To make it more “chickenie” don’t forget the chicken bouillon.

‘Jellied Vegetable Medley’ with vegetable bouillon and mayonnaise.

Sounds like a punishment rather than a meal!

Another gastronomic experience consisting of green beans and pimento suspended in lemon Jell-O.
This ‘Barbecue Salad’ consists of just tomato sauce, vinegar, salt & pepper, and Jell-O.
The ‘Cardinal Salad, consists of beet juice, vinegar, onions, horseradish, cooked beets.

To make sure you get your daily requirement of veggies, we introduce the ‘Vegetable Salad’.  Who would be able to resist a congealed pile of cauliflower, diced tomato, cabbage with the added flavor of grated onion and vinegar suspended in Jell-O.

Mmm, Mmm!

“By the 1950s, salads would become so popular that Jell-O responded with savory and vegetable flavors such as Celery, Italian, Mixed Vegetable and Seasoned Tomato”.

Seasoned Tomato, Italian Salad…!

I am not surprised to find these flavors has since been discontinued.

When I think of Jell-O, I think of dessert.

Do any of these recipes  appeal to you?

*Jell-O is a registered trademark of Kraft Foods.

What Brings Us Together

When children grow, leave home and move more than a thousand miles, you find yourself looking back to the past.

The solitude leaves me alone with my thoughts.

As you ponder on ago, you find yourself in a near trance, in your own little world where you shut out the present moment and dreamily stroll through the sights and sounds of an ordinary home where each got excited about holidays, birthdays, milestones, celebrations or just being together.

heart9

You recall how the smells of a cooking meal, or how bread baking could make the home feel comfy and cozy.

dill bread

You remember the laughter, the joy, and how we comforted each other through tears, and heartaches.

As I abruptly come back to real-time, I sigh.

Reminiscing can either bring a smile to your face or a gut-wrenching, empty feeling.

sunflowers

On any given day, looking around the dinner table, you find only one plus you. More times than not, I forget to remember how thankful I am to be with that “one” with whom I can share a meal.

necklace heart1

For now, quickly setting the bygone days aside and sharing a meal with the “one”,  I am consoled by the thought that food is a celebration of life, it’s what brings all or “one” of us together.

“One” and One (Tom and Me)-1990 or 1991.

Who Were You

Holidays, regular days, birthdays, anniversaries, milestones for us, are what it has been for us for the past twenty-three and a half years. They have been lonely, depressing and endless reminiscing.

You would think that after this long we would have learned to accept our lot in life.

It has been tried and tried and failed and failed.

Over three years ago, when we took a big leap in life and up and moved back…we came back here with our tails between our legs.

Right back where we started from twenty-three and a half years ago, giving up job and security.

It appears that all that’s left are dreams.

dream

Dreams are life…as long as we still have our dreams we have hope.

Right?

One day, you wake up and realize that you are in the autumn of life and people have moved on because you are so far away.

Time

Is it that we are so far away?  

You find that you are tired…so tired of trying to find that one piece of familiarity…After twenty-three and a half years one would think one would become familiar with ones surroundings.

One would almost think, wouldn’t one?

Yet, if my wish were to be granted, I would refuse. In a strange way, that most will not understand, desolation is my companion.

I would feel awkward.  

Desolation is a miserable companion, but desolation is all I have known for most of my life.

Maybe desolation is my familiarity.

“All right, Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up.”

La Mia Famiglia, Vecchie Foto

For my family and relatives-

1944-Gates Street-Portsmouth, New Hampshire

My maternal grandmother & grandfather, great grandmother and great grandfather

Maternal Grandmother, Grandfather, Great-Grandmother and Great-Grandfather

Camilla, Biaggio, Lucia, Nicola

Tonic, Soda, Soda Pop

Maybe it’s because I am thristy-or maybe it’s because I am thinking of my childhood while I am thirsty…

What keeps coming to the forefront of my mind is a tonic I used to drink when I was a child. For those of you that think I drank something akin to Vitameatavegamin,

Are you tired, run-down, listless? Do you poop out at parties? Are you unpopular? The answer to all your problems is in this little bottle. Vitameatavegamin. Yes, Vitameatavegamin contains Vitamins Meat Vegetables and Minerals. Yes, with Vitameatavegamin, you can spoon your way to health. All you do is take a great big tablespoonful after every meal. Mmmmmmm….. It’s so tasty, too! Tastes just like candy! So why don’t you join all the thousands of happy peppy people and get a great big bottle of Vitameatavegamin tomorrow! That’s Vita-meata-vegamin! (wink)

tonic, to me, is what soda or soda pop is to others. 

The tonic (tawnik) that I am referring to is Squamscot Soda

It’s a small company in New Hampshire that dates back to the Civil War. Their soda tonic, is still made using a simple syrup (sugar and water). Today’s sodas tonics are made using high frutose corn syrup as a sweetner.

My grandparents sold Squamscot beverages at their restaurant and when I was allowed to have a tonic, I would always have a cream soda.

That is but a distant memory to me now.  Someday I hope to have a Squamscot tonic anytime I want.

But then again, ‘Moxie‘ was another tonic I enjoyed.

What would you use to describe a carbonated soft drinks? 

Manic Monday #130

Is there something you’ve dreamed of doing for a long time? Why haven’t you done it?
It is the same old song and dance and the same old dream. I dream of moving back to New England. I haven’t done it because of finances, jobs, and the fact that we would have to unload a house first.

If you could make any fictional character come to life, which one would it be?
Umm!  Ahh!  Hmm!  (brain cramp inserted here)

If you could have a $10,000 shopping spree to one store, which store would it be and how long would it take you to spend the $10,000?
Any place where I could buy a good mattress and some comfortable furniture.

Name three things you wanted as a child but never got.
A baby doll with all the things a baby would need.
A pair of roller skates.
A pedal car-

pedal car