Monday, November 17, 2014

Our Family’s Comfort Food

It is very seldom that the subject of the old fashioned foods I ate as a little girl is broached. For

this reason, I have chosen to remember on paper the delicious memories I have of my dear mother’s

own version of vegetable soup!

When I was growing up in Omaha milk arrived at our doorstep in bottles with a top that held the

cream. There was a paper tab at the top; when that was removed the cream was poured into a glass

cream pitcher and used with coffee. When Mom left the cream at the top and shook the bottle, I knew

that something wonderful was going to happen in our tiny kitchen!

I was a finicky eater. Many of the foods that appeared on our table were not to my liking but after I

suggested we send it to the ‘starving children in China’ I was well advised just to eat the food without

opining. I needed no encouragement for my mom’s soups!

In my mind’s eye, there is Mom, wearing a butcher’s apron. That flowered model covered the bodice

of her house dress as well as the skirt and there was a perfect bow at her back. She would stand at the

kitchen table with her paring knife, peeling and chopping the vegetables that would go into her soup

pot: Carrots, onions, potatoes. She washed them with great love. She carefully cut them with love -

and her trusty paring knife.

When I grew up and recreated this family fave I wondered why she had no chef’s knife and

why she took so long in making this simple, satisfying meal. I now know that it was A/because she

loved my dad and me and B/she adored that soup, too!

She boiled a pot of salted water as she prepared the veg. She often hummed or sang as she worked.

The brightly colored carrots went into the salty water first. It was fun to see the steam rising and

hear the hiss as cold met hot. Next came the chunks of potatoes and the bits of onion. The aroma

of that little Omaha kitchen felt much like a hug as they simmered on the stove. When my great

grandma’s meat fork went into tender carrot pieces, the vegetables were deemed to be done. That’s

when Mom would drain the liquid into the sink, creating another cloud of steam! It was magical for

the three year old who was no doubt underfoot! The pot went back to the Roper gas range. Mom

added that creamy milk the Robert’s Dairy man had left on our front porch. She used enough to cover

the cooked goods PLUS enough to cook the macaroni that came next. I remember watching her put

spoonfuls of corn starch into a bowl I wish still had. It was a white bowl with thin red stripes and a

red band a.round the top sporting white polka dots.

When the milk was hot enough and the macaroni was soft enough, Mom stirred the corn starch into

that soup kettle to thicken the soup JUST SO! My mouth would water with anticipation! Then came

the seasoning: salt was sprinkled into the pot from the small measuring spoon that rested in the ‘salt

dish’. Pepper was shaken from the square green shaker that matched my grandma’s set, displayed on

the stove.

It was a treat for me to help set the table. The soup bowls we used were from the “good” set. These

were flat soup plates and we used them because the soup was easier to eat that way. Mom always

liked to have a dinner plate underneath in case of spills. In those days, crackers came in square sheets

of four perforated individual crackers. Oyster crackers were a rare treat.

The spoons we used for this meal were the same spoons I now wear as jewelry! My #1 daughter took

Mom’s flatware to a silversmith and they’ve been fashioned into bracelets, necklaces and rings for

every one of Mom’s great granddaughters.

When Mom was no longer able to live alone she came to join our household. I was grateful to have

her with us. One day when I came home from work to have lunch, Mom surprised me with a bowl

of her “famous” Our Favorite Vegetable Soup.

It was the last time she ever cooked for me.

~Connie Baum
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1 comment:

  1. Dear Blogger, Why does this post have such funky spacing? The original copy was all neat and nifty.

    Oh, well. The message is there for the reader. Never mind...*audible sigh...

    ~Mother Connie


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