Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Farmstand-flavored memories

Outdoors at the camp in the late 1950s
Mr. T and I are making a concerted effort to eat healthier.  What better time than summer, when fresh fruits and vegetables are so abundant?  Recently, I prepared this: Vegetables with Brown Rice
for supper, and it was really tasty.  The recipe calls for a red pepper, summer squash, zucchini, broccoli, and peas, plus walnuts and some seasonings.  My friend Ruth had brought me some wonderful summer squash from her garden, which I used in this. I only had an orange pepper, so used that instead of a red one, and I used cauliflower instead of broccoli because that's what I had on hand.  This stirfry is seasoned very simply with salt and pepper.  I served corn on the cob with it, plus a salad of baby romaine and some fresh sliced tomatoes.  It was a nice light summer meal.

But it was more than that.  We've all experienced, I'm sure, memory triggers in scents or tastes.  (For example, whenever I use Windex®, it brings back fleeting memories of the summers I helped my sister-in-law clean lakeside homes.  Opening these seasonal places up for the summer required loads of time spent washing windows, sliders and French doors, and real Windex® is my sister-in-law's cleaner of choice.)

I didn't expect this simple stirfry to trigger any memories, but it surely did.  With the first bite, I was brought back to the picnic table in the airy living room of my family's summer place.  

This was a little two-room camp out in the woods, to which my dad had added a large room to serve as living room, dining area, and bunkroom.  The other two rooms were a kitchen and a bedroom with a separate, tiny curtained-off sitting area containing a tall dresser and a rocking chair, along with a little Franklin stove.  My dad had a gravity-feed arrangement for cold running water only, and we had an outhouse.  In the living room was a couch, a couple of chairs, a television, a shelf with a telephone, a number of rollaway cots, an old pump organ someone had given us (none of  us knew how to play it!) and a picnic table with benches.  There were also some boxes full of books (bought at auction) and old magazines.  It sounds disorganized, but it really didn't feel it.  The dining area was in one corner, beside the large screened windows that were covered with wooden shutters in the off-season.  The living room area was in the adjacent corner, and the bunks filled up the remaining side.  The organ was tucked in next to the door to this room.

So back to the table.  I guess, now that I think about it, there must have been times when we just went over to the camp for supper and the evening.  I know that we didn't always stay overnight, though we would often go there for a week at a time when my dad had some time off from work.  But on the way to the camp, there was a wonderful farm stand where my parents would often stop to pick up some fresh produce.  And my mother would then cook much of what they bought.  Often there would be peas to shell or corn to husk.  I don't think she ever made a stirfry there, but she did cook corn, peas, summer squash, green beans, and the like.  Sliced tomatoes were a must.  I don't actually remember what was served for meat with these fresh meals; my guess is that we just made a meal of those good vegetables.  Salt and pepper, and some margarine for the corn,  would have been the only seasonings.

So with the first bite of summer squash in last night's supper, I was back at the picnic table in the camp.  I know that I didn't fully appreciate at the time all that my parents did to make moments like that happen.  I am so happy to be reminded!


  1. Totally charmed by this description of your family cottage...very reminiscent of my own time at the lake...outhouse and all. I once owned a cottage cleaning business and so the Windex beings back memories for me as well.

  2. That is so much fun, Vee, to think that Windex brings back memories for you too!

    And yes ... outhouses. My dad maintained the one at camp very well with lime and sawdust, etc. but it still had spiders. The part I hated most was the cold damp air coming up from beneath the seat.

    It's fun now to be fixing the place up. I think my parents would be so tickled that it is being used again.


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