With the temperature in the mid-70’s here in Myrtle Beach and the days getting longer, I can’t help but be in a good mood. These positive vibes got me thinking back to when I was a little kid and my mom would let me “help” with preparing/cooking some select dishes. The memory was triggered because a couple of these items were made exclusively on warmer days that feel just like this Tuesday. For tonight’s blog post, I want to look back on some of the fun my mom let my siblings and I have in the kitchen.
Ice Pops – This is the one dish that I actually just didn’t “help” with as I mentioned above. Rather, this was all me. Growing up I was fascinated with the freezing process. I would fill up cups with water and throw them in the freezer. I would then take it out after a couple hours and chisel out the newly formed piece of ice. After that got old I would take my action figures and drop them in a cup of water and freeze it overnight. I would free my action figure by removing the block of ice from the drinkware and throwing it as hard as I could on our driveway.
When the weather heated up, I would make homemade popsicles. My mom had a mold that was specially designed for making ice pops. I would make Kool-Aid and pour it into the mold. After putting them in the freezer I would check the solidifying process obsessively every ten minutes, delaying the freezing time with all the warm air. However, once they finally did freeze, I would thoroughly enjoy the summer treat! Even though after just a few sucks the popsicle would turn from Kool-Aid flavoring to plain ice, I couldn’t get enough. I also made ice pops out of soda, grape juice, and Sunny Delight.
Ice Cream – I don’t think I have a fonder memory than when we would make homemade ice cream. My mom had a cook book that contained a whole section on ice cream. I would look at the beautiful photography that captured the heavenly looking dessert and beg my mom to let us make it. Although it didn’t happen that often, I could always count on my mom to lead the charge in making homemade ice cream about twice a summer.
My mom had an ice cream maker that she kept in a storage closet we rarely used. When she got it out, I couldn’t contain my excitement. Throwing cubes of ice into the machine and watching it go to work was a lot of fun. Although it was a long process to reach the final product, I swore that the ice cream we made was far superior to the kind we bought at the store (well at least until I tried Ben & Jerry’s for the first time).
Pizza Cupcakes – What I am about to explain is a Mary Reser original and it was such a good idea that she submitted the recipe to a cooking magazine.
When we made homemade pizza, the three of us Reser kids got to make our own pizza cupcakes. My mom would get out her cupcake/muffin pans and line them with dough. We then had the fun job of adding the sauce, cheese, and whatever toppings we wanted to the designated cups my mom assigned us. After we prepped our pizza my mom threw the pans in the oven and we went downstairs and watched TV. When she called us back up we ate our dinner just like we would eat our cupcakes when a classmate brought them to school for his/her birthday.
Graham Cracker Snacks – My mom got some serious mileage with graham crackers. When I was a little boy, my mom paired graham crackers and a glass of milk together for my ultimate snack. I would dip a portion of the cracker in the milk until it became soggy and then bite it off. As I got a little older, my tastes became more sophisticated. My mom adjusted to this by offering the kids in our family a graham cracker bar. Out on the table would be crackers, peanut butter, marshmallows, and chocolate chips. We would have the privilege of layering our graham cracker in peanut butter and then topping it with a couple of tasty options. This was our candy growing up.
Button Soup – There is an old Disney book called Button Soup. It features the Donald Duck family as they try to curb their hunger by making soup. To make a long story short, the secret ingredient for the delicious meal was a button they dropped into the pot. I loved the book but I didn’t love my mom’s own pasta fagioli. My smart mother found a remedy for this by rebranding her Italian specialty as Button Soup. When she would go to make her pasta fagioli, she would pick me up and let me drop a button into the pot! From there on out, I always loved it when my mom made her homemade pasta fagioli. Funny enough, almost 25 years later we still sometimes just refer to it as Button Soup.
There was never a dull moment growing up in the Reser kitchen. Believe it or not, my mom wasn’t the only one who helped make eating fun. My dad also had some neat tricks he would pull out every now and then. However, those will be for a different blog post. Until then, if you see my mom, ask her to bring you a big bowl of Button Soup. Don’t Blink.