Tell us about your favorite meal, either to eat or to prepare. Does it just taste great, or does it have other associations?
One favorite meal? Are you kidding me? You don’t live for nearly 68 years and end up with just one favorite meal! But ok, I’ll go along.
There are lots of comfort foods in my life. One of my favorites was when Mom took a nice meaty hambone and cooked it with pinto beans. Raw fries and cornbread were the go-alongs, and in the spring she would often make a salad of wilted lettuce. I remember telling someone about this meal once, and got a sniffy “That’s poor people’s food” in reply. Well, duh. We were poor. The food was filling, delicious, and inexpensive. Mom grew potatoes and lettuce. Corn meal was cheap. That meal smelled wonderful and tasted even better.
Then there was good old pot roast with carrots and potatoes, and a salad I still make with apples, raisins, bananas all mixed together with Miracle Whip. Don’t turn your nose up. It’s very good. Try it before you don’t like it 🙂
However, the meal that I love to this day has a story behind it, so here goes.
My parents were married when Dad was 19 and Mom was almost 17. He was headed off to the Navy a month after they were married, so it was a very emotional time for them.
They honeymooned up on the Grand Mesa
in western Colorado. Gorgeous, romantic place.
My grandma, Dad’s mother, was by all accounts a wonderful cook. She wanted to prepare something special for Mom and Dad when they came down from the Mesa to Grand Junction, so she started looking through her recipes and cookbooks.
She had a Presto pressure cooker. Remember those? I didn’t even know how to cook potatoes in just a plain pot because we’d always done them in Mom’s Presto. Takes a lot less time. Anyway, Grandma found a recipe that she thought sounded really good, inexpensive, and easy to make. It was called Meatball Oven Dish. It could be prepared in a roasting pan in the oven, or it could be done in the Presto in about a quarter of the time.
It was a hit! Everyone loved it, and it became a stock recipe in my mom’s collection. It’s one of the first dishes I learned to make, and I still make it now and then even though it’s usually just the two of us. It uses hamburger, carrots, and potatoes in a tomatoe juice sauce thickened with flour from the the meatballs, which are dredged in flour and browned before the dish is put together for the oven or the pressure cooker.
This meal has been in the family for about 70 years now, and it still tastes just as good as it did the first time.