You know, sometimes I get a hankering for good old fashioned spaghetti with meat sauce. Reminds me of the Kraft spaghetti-in-a-box we used to eat when I was kid, you know the one, with the packet of herbs to stir into tomato paste with water? My mom used to make that sauce with ground beef for a quick, filling dinner and Stacey and I LOVED it. With lots of Kraft Parmesan cheese. And lots of bread toasted with butter and garlic saltand cut into small squares – aka garlic toast. YUM. I’m of course not using that mix (does it still exist?), but the end result is pretty similar. At least I think it is – maybe these days I couldn’t even choke down the mix, who knows? And who cares? As long as it tastes like I remember, that’s all that really matters. Ah, Food Reminiscing, two of my favorite pasttimes combined… Noshtalgia…
After our tres gourmet feast, I’m heading over to Suz’s for yep, Feminine Hijinxing with My Minxes. How perfect and adorable is this Cartoon Suz, created by Kim’s brother Pat for Susie’s podcast music-writing venture, Mod Pod Music? When I can’t pull off Friday Morning Coffee with Suz, I’ll just pop this cutie up on my screen and play the latest Feminine Hijinx! Sometimes Susie’s laugh is just what the doctor ordered – in person, or via podcast.
And so. Allow me another moment of noshtalgia. I’ve had plenty the past few days, remembering time spent with my stepmom Susanna’s unforgettable mother, Shirley Hopkins Taylor. Shirley passed away on Tuesday, at age 83, in Billings, MT, after what can only be said was a life lived well and fully. I was 12 when I met Shirley – always hungry (already 5’7″ with four inches yet to grow) yet picky is how I would describe my food self at that age. I was a little terrified of her, as was everyone, I think, because she was no wallflower, Mrs. Taylor. No. Clever, very charming, funny, opinionated, industrious, and yes, quite bossy, Shirley was a master entertainer and their beautiful ranch home in Kirby, MT, saw a steady stream of visitors from all over the world. Happily well-fed visitors, I might add. Raised as a privileged Chicago city girl who, with her New Yorker husband Walt ended up improbably yet succesfully running a Montana cattle ranch as well as her own thoroughbred horse-racing business, she created this unbelievably cool (my word, not hers, ha) East-Meets-West setting, at once rustic as well as refined. Shirley was a famous eater – she loved great food. Oh, the amount and variety of food the W Lazy T Ranch has cranked out over the years, for ranch hands and family and guests alike, I can hardly imagine it. Lots of rare beef (of course!), buttered veggies, and deep, dark chocolate, her favorite dessert. Privileged or no, Shirley was a daughter of the Depression and nothing – nothing – went to waste in her kitchen. Sunday’sglazed ham showed up as Monday’s ham sandwiches, Tuesday’s ham casserole, Wednesday’s ham salad, and Thursday’s ham soup. Ditto the Thanksgiving turkey (which resulted in my first taste of both turkey salad with grapes and turkey tettrazini, yum).
Shirley would never have thought about it, but she had a big, big impact on my interest in food and cooking – in my adolescent exposure to food at her elegant table (I was scared of half of it, but boy I learned alot, from what to eat and how to politely eat whatever was served to me, to how to properly clear away the dishes – no stacking! – when all was done) and of course via her daughter, my stepmom Susanna, who taught me how to cook everything from Asparagus to Zabligione (literally A-Z). Shirley will rest in peace next to her husband Walt, at a beautiful site on their lovely W Lazy T ranch. And that will sadly be the end of an era.