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Archive for April, 2013

Someone once asked me if I’ve ever made Friday Night Casserole. That’s hysterical; I think we all know I’d never do that. But if I ever had to, I bet I could come up with a special Friday Night Casserole meal by using the leftovers in my fridge, like my Mom would have. Of course, my fridge actually has food in it that I want to eat. But there aren’t usually leftovers in my fridge (hello … Jay lives here). Though there are times I look through my cupboards and fridge to survey what I could make a meal out of. Thankfully I always have good stuff like chicken stock, tomato sauce and pasta noodles in the cupboards;  onions, mushrooms, spinach, butter and cheese in the fridge, and olive oil, limes and tomatoes on the counter. Always. These are all some of my favorite foods and I bet I could come up with at least 20 ways to prepare them. But I wonder what I could come up with if I had to resort to some of Mary Ann’s ingredients.

Have you ever seen the TV show “Chopped” or “Iron Chef?” I think Mary Ann created the concept of Iron Chef before the Japanese did. They have to make a meal featuring one secret food ingredient. The chefs on “Chopped” find four random (and often disgusting) ingredients in their baskets and have to prepare dishes with them. Somehow they always make something the judges like. Mary Ann could also take any ingredients and make a meal out of them. Unfortunately it was usually something her judges didn’t like. One time her secret ingredient was turnips. Of course, she told us that big bowl of mashed white stuff was potatoes. And naturally, being the Spud Queen, I piled that stuff on my plate. Big mistake.

Here’s a sample of four ingredients that could be found in one of Mary Ann’s baskets:

Spam

Canned Pineapple

Jar of Marinated Vegetables

Lipton Onion Soup Mix

or

Canned Tuna

Oyster Crackers

Celery

Cream of Mushroom Soup

or

Bell Peppers

Leftover White Rice

Ketchup

Velveeta Cheese

or

Can of Stewed Tomatoes

Pimento Loaf Lunch Meat

White Bread

Water

Okay, it usually wasn’t that extreme, but it’s close. So anyway, there’s no such thing as throwing together a Friday Night Casserole at my house. When I find the leftovers are piling up in the fridge, I’ve found a way to make them appealing. See, Jay loves buffets. Loves them. I hate them. All those glass sneeze-guards that are too tall to block kids’ sneezes, day-old lettuces, rice pilaf ending up in the mashed potatoes, sticky serving utensils, crab that’s never crab, and pretty much just cooties galore. Jay knows the only way he can get me to go to a buffet is this: when one of the nieces or nephews spends the night and we ask them where they’d like to go for dinner, he whispers “HomeTown Buffet” in their ear. Then I’m screwed.

So for times when Jay passes up the leftovers in the fridge, I hold a “Buffet Night.” I take out all the leftovers, which are never disgusting, and heat them up. I place them on the kitchen counter in pretty bowls and plates and add a bowl of green salad, make some yummy appetizer and throw in a bowl of his favorite potato chips to make it fancy. Works every time. I have to be honest: I got the idea from Jay. One time he had to watch our niece for about an hour before I got home. She was about 2 at the time. When I got home, she yelled out, “We’re having a Food Party!” He had put raisins, cheese, grapes, goldfish crackers, pretzels and other kid foods in a bunch of cute little bowls on the table, and my niece was eating every single one of them. See, you just have to make it fancy.

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I thought I’d start a series of Top Ten Lists about ‘70s stuff, because the Top Ten thing just hasn’t been done enough. (Who is this David Letterman you speak of?) Of course, on my Top Ten Lists, I’ll offer a little explanation, because, just like when I’m talking, I can’t seem to shut up.

Here’s the first one.

Top Ten Worst Things About Being a Young Teenage Girl in the ’70s

10.  Swim Caps

We had to wear stupid white, tight rubber swim caps in pools – even if our hair was shorter than the boys. And trust me, those things pulled the hair out of your head when you tried to take them off.

Pretty, isn’t it?

from http://www.allswim.com

 9.  Tube socks

They never stayed up.

 8.  No such thing as backpacks for school

At least not for us cool kids.

On Mondays I carried the following to school in Junior High (yes, we walked):

Two or three textbooks, Pee Chee folders, Purse, Bag Lunch, Clean Gym Clothes, Flute, Tennis Racket

On Fridays I carried the following home from school in Junior High:

Two or three textbooks, Pee Chee folders, Purse, Dirty Gym Clothes, Flute, Tennis Racket

And if it was raining, you had to juggle your umbrella with all of it. Hopefully you had one of these fancy things:

umbrellafrom –  http://www.modcloth.com

 7.  The gym clothes

In Northern California, they were light blue polyester shorts and striped t-shirts … I may throw up just thinking about them.

 6.  Perverted Teachers

Not that there weren’t great teachers. But there was always at least one creepy teacher. Shudder. (Teresa Z – can I get a witness … )

 5.  Being on Restriction

It was real. And it sucked.  No fancy AM radio. No TV with all the glorious 7 or 8 channels to choose from. No phone. And it typically lasted for one or two weeks.

 4.  No curling irons or blow dryers

At least not in my house. I do remember using pretty pink hair tape to keep my feathered locks in place overnight.

 3.  Chores … without brothers

In my family, the four of us girls had to do boy chores along with our girl chores. Like mowing the front and back lawn. You’re welcome Dad.

 2.  Rationing telephone time

First of all, the one phone in the house was usually mounted on the kitchen wall (at least ours was). So when you finally got your allotted half hour to use it, everyone could hear your conversation. And sometimes your friends weren’t home when you called. Or they were on restriction and couldn’t come to the phone. And sometimes you had to get off the phone because one of your parents was stranded with a flat tire somewhere and had to make an Emergency Breakthrough with the help of the Telephone Operator to try to talk to the other parent at home. And great, there goes your half hour.

And finally, the number one worst thing about being a young teenage girl in the ‘70s:

 1.  Waiting three days for your favorite song to come on the radio

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