Join Date: Jun 2004
This is a pretty good thread guys!
My grandparents were Scots/Irish/English immigrants to the "frozen plains"...
The paternal grandfather you met in an earlier thread under Beverages and Rum...a Scotsman who came over in the late 1800's, back for WWI, subsequently a railroader with the CPR through the tough years of the '30's, and as straight and good a man as you could ever meet...he married a lady from Lincoln, England at the end of the war, and they returned to Canada, as they said, "in Britain, it was already decided what you were, and were going to be...in Canada, you had your chance to evolve..." (truer words never spoken!)
Anyways, not much as cooks, tho' Granddad's "cousin" Annie, could both read tea leaves and cook the damndest scones, but the skill died with her, as it was "eyeball measuring"...my paternal Grandmother's contribution to the art of cooking was "toad in the hole", which was basically a pork sausage wrapped in dough and baked...in the '30's, my Dad told me, you were lucky if you go the one with meat in it...poverty was terrible on the plains at that time...
My Irish grandfather was an incredible man, emigrating in the late 1880's (an aunt did a family history of his early life on the literally unbroken Cdn prairies with photo's...its incredible, and I converted it to CD if you want a few shots), he brought "Granny" over from Ireland in the early 1900's and the two lived in literally a shack, but were good honest pioneer types, as witness my odd posts about "cereal", "headcheese", etc, these would not have been amiss at their tables in those years, as you didn't leave any meat unused...
Unfortunately, my mother was killed very early in my life, and my Dad remarried, another pioneer daughter of Norwegian extraction, who was, in fact, an incredible cook, that she vehemently denied...saying "good meat is hard to ruin", but was a baker beyond belief with that outwordly ability to "see" where the dough or pastry needed another pinch of this or that, and thus I grew up eating very well indeed!
As BBQ's were just then coming into fashion in Canada, I got to see the "experiments" on the charcoal cookers (including some spectacular explosions on ignition, where "gas" was deemed "cheaper" than BBQ lighter, but I digress!) and watched my Dad "experiment" on how to cook various foods, without a whole whack of instructional materials being available (let alone "affordable" at that point!) He did very well, and of course, I'm no Saint as a person, so was often "grounded" to the kitchen table or the backyard BBQ, and thus caused to watch my parents "do their magic" on food...unwittingly "learning" some neat tricks unconciously, and a spirit that it wasn't that weird to try new things or methods...
I was ably assisted in this in that one uncle, a Navy Chief, was a butcher with his own store, and he taught me an awful lot about "meat", and the cutting and hanging...
My parents were greatly amused/relieved/delighted when I joined the Army, thinking this would knock some of the mickey from my prehensile behaviours, and, while it probably helped in that regard, it put me in contact with a society of people that could "take an order" rather stoically, and "make it happen"...sort of the original "out of the box" thinking method...and there I made undoubtably the best friends of my life, including the lady who introduced me to my wife, her sister...
HER family was all English (meaning they couldn't cook worth a damn either!)...aside from her Mom knew how to make salad out of dandelions, and what part of "pigweed" was edible (she grew up in the southern plains of Saskatchewan, and her parents passed away young, so got layered with the bring up the siblings tasks! In what passes for "spring", back then, there was little to eat for fresh greens, so this was a necessity!)(Even though its a bit of a pain to have your MIL picking at your lawn, to make salads for your kids, and explaining that you had both fertilised it and put weed killer on, and so was this really a good idea?)
However, Marg's father was a meat inspector, and so, she never tasted bologna or hot dogs, or, in fact, any processed meat until she left home, as Harold would not allow it in his house! He knew what was in there!
Again, one hell of a man, sadly lost, soon after we married, to the frightening Alzheimers (which together with ALS/Lou Gherigs Disease, is sometthing I hope you can all see your way clear to financially supporting both research and a cure!)
Marg's Mom was a wonderful woman and grandparent! It was family "legend" that you waited until the next offspring was 2 or 3, and then you sent them to Grandma's place for the weekend...and they'd come back "potty trained"...this worked like a charm, until our last, who was subsequently identified/diagnosed as PDD and Autistic, threw a screw in the mix...he untied himself from the "leash" attached to the clothesline, and went "awandering"...never one to "enjoy" "wet pants" he resented the instruction to "sit" on the "thundermug" until he "produced"...so in his "wanderings" he wound up at the home of one of Grandma's neighbours and friends, who managed to have him sitting in a highchair and amused with a few toys...while Grandma was shrieking up and down the street, wondering where he'd gone....she (the neighbour) called out "Mary, are you looking for a little red-headed boy? He's in here, and playing at my table!"...Grandma reportedly cried "Why won't he do that for ME?"
Anyways, that about where I come from...do carry on about yourselves, I really enjoy the personal snapshots of your personalities, or where uou can figure out how to do it, your faces!
Sorry if I've carried on too long, but watching Baseball, its too easy to do...