Casting Aspersions



A recent Facebook meme asked one of those Who remembers these questions?  Type “Like” if you do! They are typically:  Do you Remember Bread Boxes?  Tupperware?  Clackers? or any number of things that were popular or invented during our ever-increasing life spans.  The questions are asked, presumably, so that we find joy in being reminded of things that brought about a happy moment or sentimental memory.  Often they just remind us that we are frigging old; we respond, but in our heart of hearts we just wish the 13 year olds who post these stupid memes just stop it.

Yet sometimes I rejoice in the guilty pleasure of having them show something that was popular before my time, because my-time-since keeps getting longer and takes up more of my time.  I don’t remember the advent of the Model T Ford, nor Depression-era food lineups and food stamps.  Stalin’s Five Year Plans.  World War I, II and Korea.  Man on the Moon. Levittetown. Especially this:







Yet again, sometimes those questions do make me genuinely happy, because they ask me if I remember something that hasn’t or can’t be improved upon.  Imagine that. Some things like bubble wrap, the cast iron frying pan cannot be improved upon.

We are warned against Teflon-type coatings that can become carcinogenic at 500 Degrees Fahrenheit which is high but considering it’s a FRYING PAN, what are the chances that we would use them to just poach our eggs rather than fry them?  Stupid carcinogenic frying-pan developers!  We don’t read directions because we make stupid assumptions.  How dare we assume that our pans, like the cast-iron frying pan, can be used at a high-enough temperature to cook our food WITHOUT GETTING CANCER??

Forget the cancer bother, you can use a decades-old, oil-infused cast iron beauty that will let you flip eggs and toss beans with impunity, fry up grilled-cheese sandwiches and a mire-pois for almost everything else without sticking!  They need to be cured before use – infused with oil and baked in the oven so that the oil seeps into the pores of the pan.  After that, you are NOT ALLOWED, on the pain of death to wash with soap; if so, the curing will have to be repeated and you will be sent to Hell indefinitely.  Some of these pans have been handed down for generations; just keep adding oil before you heat up and voila – you’re good to go.

The most cleaning needed is some hot water and a dishrag; if crusty bits cling, tackle them with a rock salt/water paste.  Be careful with scrubbies as they might remove the oil coating.


My mother gave me this pan as a parting gift when I left home at 19.  After 35 years she still looks pretty good for her age, don’t ya think?  We call her Cheryl and she’s never let’s us down.  Throw a bit of olive oil in her, heat ‘er up and she’s ready to go.  The pan, not my mother.

musings, suspended in aspic


My son has a friend over tonight for a sleepover.  I’m going to make my world famous Broccoli Forest mac’n'cheese, toss it into a casserole dish and into the oven.  Thirty minutes at 350 will do it.  We’ll have dinner, then sometime later after the Leafs start losing their hockey game we’ll make a big bowl of popcorn, plunk ourselves down on the couch and watch an illegally downloaded Battle of the Five Armies Hobbit movie.

Casseroles make life easy and they look great in the right dish.  In the last few years we’ve bought a lot of vintage Pyrex bowls and dishes not so much because we needed them but because they’re neat.  Most of them are too small for tonight’s dinner, but they look damn fine in our cupboard.  The older the better, they come in vintage green, gold and orange which would have looked lovely on a 1950s dinner party table.

The 1950s.  What a time to be alive.  What a time to eat! It was an era of prosperity, the war was over, people had money, they lived in the suburbs and did their entertaining at home.  Every man had a job, bought a house for his family while his wife stayed home raising their 2.6 children.  She would cook and clean and buy stuff from Avon. She’d smoke and serve coffee and tea to neighbourhood wives who would stop in after the soaps were over.  Soon after being left at home all day in the middle of the suburbs without a car she would start popping Miltowns because her stultifying routine was causing her to lose her mind.  The martini she served her husband when he came home and announced “Boy are my dogs tired” wouldn’t have been the first one she made that day, but the third.

They would have dinner parties.  These would be more formal affairs than the ones we have at our house where I sometimes serve our guests with slippers or Crocs on my feet.  They didn’t do that then. They wore proper shoes around the house, the men in Florsheim loafers and the women in pumps that matched their accessories.  They wore fashionable dresses, the men wore their best suits and Brylcreemed their hair.  No doubt convo was light and lively, especially after a few G’n'Ts.  Keep ‘em coming, Mabel!

How fun!  Eventually they would sit down to eat at tables laden with ostentatious food creations, flamboyantly adorned with colourful dressings and gaudy decorations.  All colours would be present in the dishes – green, yellow, orange, white, red, the more colourful the better. Deviled eggs, meatloaf, tuna casserole, baked Alaska, with meats so abundant and varied that the the whole barnyard would be represented. Especially steak! And finally, no table was complete without at least one serving of something suspended in gelatin or aspic.

Gelatin and aspic.  I don’t think there is anything more disgusting than the renderings from boiling the skin, ligaments, tendons and bones of animals.  Gelatin was used more often for sweet things; aspic was just gelatin mixed with a consommé or meat broth, used more often for savoury dishes.

Just gross. 

I have a problem with some food textures.  The thought of biting through gelatin to get at a piece of fruit sends my stomach roiling; the thought of biting into the same substance to get at a chunk of boiled pork is gag-inducing.  Almost as bad as biting down on a piece of gristle in the days when I ate meat.  Anything that my teeth bounce off of has no business being in my mouth.

Check out these glorious creations.