Don’t let one good meal fool you

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Arrow right #1 Icon Created with Sketch. By Rick Houser-I’m sure that I have written before that after I graduated from high school and so too had my cousin Walt we took up the life of bachelors in his parents’ summer home on their farm that sat next to ours. We also had decided to pool our farming resources and became the new generation of farmers on Fruit Ridge Road. This was in the late 60’s and into the early 70’s so having a home to ourselves and out earning our own way in the world gave us cause to feel probably more independent than we should have. Still, we were making a good go of it and since we were in that time period residing on a farm with a sign painted across the barn telling all that we were living at “Green Acres Farm” put the topping on the cake, so to speak.We enjoyed the freedom of having our own place and being able to go where we wanted without being questioned was something that set us above the standards of that period in time. But being a bachelor in that era wasn’t near as easy as it might sound. We had work clothes and dress clothes that would need washing. Fortunately, we could take our clothes to my Mom and she would take pity on us. As to keeping the house picked up and clean, well we did so about once a month. We didn’t want to be declared neat freaks you know.I think the hardest part of this bachelor life was the cooking. Today going to the grocery store and shopping is a breeze. However back in that time there was very little in the fast food aisle. There were frozen pizzas and we ate a lot of french fries and tater tots and frozen pot pies (five for a dollar). We were frugal with our money even then. We also ate a lot of hot dogs and hamburgers. Our diets consisted of a lot of sweets and carbs and any leftovers that either Walt’s mothere or mine would send our way. We learned early on that man does not live on bread alone. When it was the time of the year we got to help other farmers put in crops, we got to sit down to a huge home cooked meal that hit our taste buds with great delight.One weekend in February when we were restricted to the house we got to talking about what we had seen our mothers cook. So on a Sunday we decided to try out our own cooking skills. Fortunately for Walt and I his parents kept a huge freezer filled with lots of great food along with an entire beef and hog.We went to that freezer that Sunday and as we looked over what was at hand for us to choose from we decided that we did know how to prepare pork chops. (So we thought). We took them to the kitchen and sat them out to thaw. We then decided to boil a pot of peeled potatoes and make a bowl of mashed potatoes. We opened a quart of canned green beans and put them in a pot and added a half slice of bacon as we had seen our mothers do for flavor. We cheated a little as to the rolls as we had a tube of store bought ones and laid them out on a baking sheet. By doing all of this we had really got into the mood to put on a true homemade country meal.While the pork chops were thawing we peeled the potatoes and boiled them and got the mixer and mixing bowl ready to mash those potatoes. Since we had found a frozen graham cracker pie crust and a box of chocolate pudding mix, we decided we would have a dessert to top things off.Then a question came to us about the gravy. We admitted neither of us had made gravy before but we were on a roll, so we put flour and milk and the pork chop grease and some salt and pepper and heated it slowly on the stove and stirred slowly and I think to our surprise, it was the best you could have ever tasted.When we finished we had pork chops breaded and as tender as could be wanted along with the smoothest mashed potatoes one had ever tasted including a lot pf paprika on the top and a large dollop of butter. The green beans had flavored right and even the store bought rolls were perfect as we wiped butter all over the browned tops. Now maybe the chocolate pie wasn’t the greatest but by then we were having such a great meal that we ourselves had made we weren’t going to criticize the pie.That weekend Walt’s little brother David had talked us into letting him stay with us. He had enjoyed the weekend but when he ate the meal, he looked at us in a higher level of respect. David along with Walt and myself ate until we were stuffed. I can’t prove it but this intervention on our part reassured us that we could survive and rejuvenated us. It didn’t hurt either that we had David as a witness to brag on our cooking.Within the month Walt and I decided that we needed to create this meal again so we dug out a package of pork chops from the freezer and boiled potatoes and opened a quart of green beans along with a tube of rolls and we even made another chocolate pie. We began just the way we had before and went through each step just as we thought we had before, however for some unexplained reason the pork chops were not very tender, (a might chewy one could say). The green beans had little flavor and the mashed potatoes were lumpy. Worst of all was that the gravy wasn’t even close to what we had done the first time. I’m going to guess we added too much flour as it would have been good to hang wallpaper with. With a spoon stuck in the gravy bowl we turned it upside down and the spoon never moved, much less dripped out any.We sat down to eat it as we were still hungry and we had already decided not to try the gravy. Again this time we had David with us and before we could say anything he tried the gravy but not to the delight he had experienced before. When he finished that meal I don’t think he ever accepted a home cooked meal from Walt and I again. We compared the preparation of the second meal to the first one a couple of times and still couldn’t see where we had gone astray. It was safe to say that the chocolate pie was the best part of this meal and it still tasted the same. I have to feel this is why cooks have cookbooks. When you find the best way you had better write it down friends!last_img read more