Another Day in the Country
© Another Day in the Country
I was out in California, visiting my daughter and her family, with the sole intent of capturing my 16-year-old grandson and bringing him to Ramona for a while.
One of the things I do when I’m there and everyone else is off working is fix lunch for Dagfinnr and myself. As I’ve told you before, this is not an easy task because two-thirds of the cupboard is taken over by what I call “foreign food.”
The cupboard often is quite full of these alien (to me) elements because they’ve stopped at a Korean market on their way home from picking me up at the airport and stocked up on items they can’t get at a local market.
After surveying the cupboard, I said to my grandson, “OK, this is what I found in the cupboard that I know about: ramen, mac and cheese in a box, or I could make glace. There’s also bread and cheese for a sandwich, but no lettuce.”
He grinned at me and said, “Let’s do glace, Baba,”
Can I tell you how happy I was to hear that? When he was a small boy, I thought to myself, “This child is never going to crave German food. He’s never going to ask for Baba’s mashed potatoes or her grape salad. They just eat so differently at their house.”
There’s a strong Asian influence in their house, with rice— not potatoes, as in my house — being the staple that always is in the cupboard.
Potatoes are my go-to thing. If you have a potato in the pantry, you can have a meal. Eggs and flour? You can create a feast.
After the request for glace, I was a happy camper. I knew that at least one good old German dish had taken root with this kid.
Glace is basically diced potatoes featuring a dumpling made with egg and flour. It’s a wonderful, easy-to-make, delicious, versatile, dish.
There’s a dozen things you can do with this mixture. You can brown the potatoes and dumplings in butter and toss sauerkraut into the mix. You can make a cream gravy with onions, or you can brown the lot and toss through a whipped egg before you serve it.
Throw in a salad and you have a great tasting, healthy meal.
As we sat down in real chairs, at a real table, and began to eat, Dagfinnr looked up at me, grinning, and said, “Mmmmm. Summer food.”
It took me a minute to realize what he was talking about because we eat glace all year ’round. But then I realized that he always gets glace in the summer, when his grandmother comes to stay.
Summer food, for me, used to be white, store-bought bread and lunch meat sandwiches at my Gramm’s house.
My mother, who always was very health conscious, was horrified that I was eating store-bought bread and questionable-content meat, but I thought it was delicious.
This wasn’t what Gramm usually served, but these sandwiches were part of the food she’d take out to the field for the men during harvest, to buoy them up until supper was served. I loved it!
Our aunt Naomi used to fix her favorite summer meal for us — bierock and watermelon. She also made the best cherry pies, topped with vanilla ice cream. For some reason, cherry pie reminds me of summer.
We have a spaghetti dish that we call summer spaghetti. The name stuck because we eat it often in the summer when the tomatoes are abundant. It’s fresh and delicious.
Fixing it for a family takes at least six to eight tomatoes, and that’s why we started doing it in late summer. Soon, however, we liked this dish so much that we would fix it year ’round, but we still call it summer spaghetti.
Here’s what you do: Chop up some jalapeño pepper, snip in some fresh basil, add diced tomatoes (preferably straight from the vine), olive oil, salt, and pepper.
Cook yourself a bowl full of thin spaghetti, drain, and toss hot into the fresh ingredients with some crumbled feta cheese. Yummy! Easy to make for just yourself or a whole table full of hungry folk. We serve it with French bread.
Just writing this, I’m getting hungry, and we had a big lunch. We had roast, carrots, and new potatoes that we’d just dug in the garden. When stuff comes from my garden, I get so tickled. We also had fresh cucumbers.
The king of summer food, though, is fresh corn. It’s just another day in the country, and I think I’ll head out to Jirak Farms and see whether they’ve added “corn” to their billboard.