Whet Your Palate with Foods from the Present and Memories from the Past

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My Danish grandfather had several pigs that were kept in a pen near the back garden. If it was “pig slopping” time, I was there. The snorts and squeals of the pigs as they gulped down their food made me giggle. The smell of the mash mixed with whatever leftovers were available from the house, garden or dairy barn seemed intoxicating. Those pigs really knew how to scarf down a meal.

Feral Pig

Feral Pig

When people “feed their faces” or “chow down” on foods they love, I’m always reminded of those blubbery fat hogs. One of mankind’s favorite pastimes is eating. A phrase spoken around the world in many different languages is: “What’s for dinner?” When my children were still toddlers they would crowd around my legs and ask “Time for eat?” They were not only hungry. They wanted it now!

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“The Cook” 11×14 acrylic on canvas

Sometimes I stressed out about what to feed them. I wanted to provide something nutritious that they would enjoy, and I needed to stay within my budget. I didn’t want an anxiety attack every time I had to prepare a meal.

Solution: “The menu Plan.” I literally planned out a full month of assorted meals for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Now I had something to work from when I went shopping. I didn’t have to worry about food because I knew exactly what we were going to eat and when. I knew the ingredients were waiting somewhere in the cupboards, the freezer or refrigerator because I’d purchased them myself.

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When there were leftovers, I’d incorporate them into the menu. Two big hits were omelets and fried rice. Both used miscellaneous meats or vegetables in small quantities that could be folded into an omelet with cheese or stir-fried into rice. Hidden veggies were eaten with added bacon bits or ham to sweeten the pot.

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Cooking became an art form. I fashioned make-ahead meals and blended together the makings for cookies, cakes, and muffins. All I needed to do was add egg, oil, and milk and the rest was already done. I look back now and I wonder how I found the time or energy. I was a volunteer, I worked as a free-lance writer, and I had a large family. I think one reason may have been “lack of fear.”

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There was a time when parents didn’t have to hover over their children and worry that they might be snatched out from under them by some pervert or kidnapper. My parents certainly never had to worry about me. I roamed the neighborhood and played outside for hours exploring the world I lived in. I rode my bicycle home when I was hungry. My mother knew my haunts and she knew whom to call. I never felt restricted or tied down. I seldom felt afraid.

Food no longer seems to call us back home. We can buy it almost anywhere. In fact, more people eat out than ever before. They either eat fast food or buy take out and eat at home watching T.V. Our society eats on the run and does far too much snacking. Nutrition sometimes gets lost in the balance.

When my kids were still in college, I’d get a phone call asking for a recipe they remembered. Today they have their own recipes and children of their own. Even holidays don’t involve the time and effort they used to. Store-bought items take the place of the time-consuming hot rolls of the past. Potatoes and gravy are now prepared for you. Even a “home-cooked” turkey can be purchased from your supermarket.

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Although the traditions of the past come in a new form, and busy working mothers don’t have the time to prepare a full spread; people still enjoy sharing food and laughter with those they love. Ordinary food will always taste better in good company. Perhaps that’s what those snorting pigs were trying to tell me so long ago” “Bon Appetite!  Let the good times roll – oink, oink!”

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This Little Piggy doesn’t Go to Market!

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Feral Pig

Feral Pig

They are having a “pig run” in Southwest Florida. According to the news, these runs allow people to hunt feral pigs and exterminate them. Before you protest, let me assure you that the residents will be pleased. Here are a few reasons why:

Feral pigs run wild in Florida, usually under the cover of darkness. These oinkers are also called “wild boars,” wild hogs,” or “razorbacks.”  Sound intimidating? They are if confronted. Their tusks are sharp and from three to six inches long. They can run fast and swim well which is why they seldom get caught, except when outsmarted by a hungry alligator looking for filet of pork. In this case, being pigheaded doesn’t help.

Are they good to eat? I saw a feral piglet left behind by a roaming herd. He was plump, pink, and rather juicy looking, I thought. But wild pigs are seldom eaten, unless you’re willing to risk the parasitic worms that embed their flesh or the myriad diseases they carry. The early settlers roasted feral hogs for dinner. These hardy folks lived in such primitive conditions, that they probably died of malaria or old age long before the effects of the worms kicked in. Many of them tried to keep domesticated pigs of their own, but the feral pigs managed to breakdown their fences and interbreed, creating more wild hogs.

Trying to eradicate wild pigs is like swatting at flies. They breed like jack rabbits, they’re elusive, and they’re always on the run. What do they do in the wee hours of the morning? They uproot people’s lawns and flower beds searching for seeds, acorns, roots, fungi, worms and snails.

Golf club owners are terrified they will plow through their turf and cost them thousands of dollars in damages. Homeowners cringe when they see their well manicured lawns turned into a mass of overturned clods.  How do I know this?  Our back yard was once feral-pig-plowed. Other yards in our neighborhood were also hit. In some cases, it’s an easy fix — simply stomp the uprooted sod back into place; in other cases, not so easy.

A friend of mine had her front lawn feral-pig-plowed three times. Living alone with a disability, she hired a lawn service to put her yard back together again. She paid for service twice. On the third time around, she complained to the Home Owners Association.  Her persistence paid off, and she got money back for her piggy bank.

Living in Florida is not always pork chops and gravy, but it does provide an endless supply of stories for my blogs.

Wary Pheasant

Wary Pheasant