Post # 227 Tales Around the Table

March 14, 2014 at 9:41 AM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post # 227 Tales Around the Table

A couple of nights ago, we were having dinner at my sister’s house.  It wasn’t anything fancy, just burgers and plank potatoes with some chopped veggies.  You may recall that from my last post.  When it came time for dessert, our houseguest pulled out a bag of her homemade cookies with the mini M&Ms.  Loads of “oohs” and “ahs” resounded as many hands reached for treats.  As we all sat there, many stories followed about homemade cookies and other sugar-filled treats.

Friend Russ’s mom, who shall forever be known as Houseguest, talked about making cookies for her children.  Since it was a large family, five kids, she learned early to make the cookies smaller to stretch the food budget and give the kids too much sugar.  “They didn’t care how big or small the cookies were,” she said through laughter.  “As long as they had one in each hand, they were happy.”  She would make their lunches and put a couple of cookies in each bag.  One of her sons asked one day if he could have more.  He wanted six.  She shrugged and thought, why not?  Every day, the bag came home empty so she knew he was eating them.  One day, about a week after she started adding the extra cookies, she got a call from his teacher requesting a conference.  So Houseguest trudged the several blocks to the school and sat with the teacher who was concerned with the number of cookies being brought to school each day.  Houseguest said, “Well, I never thought too much about it.  He asked for more and I figured he was hungry.  The bag is always empty so he must be eating them.”  The teacher replied, “But that’s just the point.  He’s not eating them.  He’s selling them to the other students.”  He’d been making himself “rich” nickel by nickel.

After the laughter died down, Friend Russ talked about his days in Marine boot camp.  He first had to go to the “fat farm”, as he called it.  “I was a chubby guy and needed to lose some pounds.”  He also noted that where there was a will there was a way.  He was dead asleep one night and his bunkmate shook him awake.  “Wanna split a fruit pie?”  Friend Russ, always one to seize an opportunity, even when he didn’t understand what was going on, replied, “Sure!”  They both snuck into the shower bay and the other guy pulled a fruit pie out of his pocket.  It was apple.  Friend Russ was amazed.  They were at a fat farm for the Marine Corps!  They were at a place designed to lose as much weight as possible in a minimal amount of time.  Each person had a target weight they were aiming for.  “How in the world did you get this?”  Turned out, the laundry was directly across the road, and the other guy had struck a deal with one of the drivers.  Once a week, the driver would bring in fruit pies, and receive cash and cigarettes.  Then the guy would sell the pies to anyone who wanted one.  The pies seldom lasted beyond the first day.  Friend Russ got his for free because he was Friend Russ.  “Man,” he said to us.  “Those were some tasty pies.”

We talked about the entrepreneurial nature of the dealings, so I spoke up.  “If you really want to know who has the most business know-how,” I said.  I pointed at my sister.  “She used to use our mom’s ingredients and kitchen to make chocolate chip cookies that she would sell to the neighbors.  Just like a girl scout, she’d go door to door selling cookies by the dozen until there weren’t any left.”  I remembered one incident specifically.  I was about 7 or 8 which put her at 10 or 11.  I was at a friend’s house playing something, probably tag or something.  My little brother walked up with a homemade chocolate chip cookie.  “Where’d you get that?” I demanded to know.  He said our sister was making them.  Abandoning whatever I was doing, I raced home, leaving a dust trail behind me.  I threw open the front door and screeched my sister’s name as loud as I could.  An echoing screech of dismay sounded from the kitchen so I rushed there.  She was staring at the oven, where every cookie in the current batch had just fallen flat as a pancake due to the noise I’d made.  When she pulled them out, one cookie in particular stood out.  It looked like a flying saucer, a flat brown disc with a single chocolate chip sitting in the center.  That’s the one I got.  I didn’t care.  It was a homemade cookie and bigger than the one my brother had eaten.

I’ve only ever offered my food for sale once.  People have often told me that I should open my own restaurant or become a professional chef.  I’ve thought about it, but decided long ago that I just don’t want to work that hard.  When I have to do it, it stops being fun.  One time, I charged for cooking.  A friend I worked with heard me talking about lasagna and how I made it.  He wanted a whole pan, so I said, “Forty bucks!”  He handed me two twenties and I stopped on my way home from work to pick up the stuff.  I cooked the sauce in the crock for two days, then put the whole thing together.  Once it was done, it weighed almost twenty pounds.  I brought it in the next day and handed it to him, saying I hoped he felt he got his money’s worth.  He was surprised not only by how much I made, but by how good it was.  He shared it with the entire office.  I never did that again.  It just didn’t feel right.

Enjoy you day, your weekend, and your food!

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