INK IN THE BLOOD
Okay. I admit it. I have a severe sweet tooth. Growing up, my supercook mother filled her four boys’ little growing bodies with all kinds of good things to eat. The meals she cooked were large and varied, but she always had that “reward” that came after you consumed sufficient portions of the healthy food on the table. That reward was something sweet.
While I never saw my mother eat a large amount of sweets, she cooked plenty of them and on a normal day you were just about guaranteed to find at least two desserts on her dining table (more often than not it would be a cake and a pie).
As for snacks, I suppose the Webb menu ran the range of normalcy for most households, but often there were unusual treats such as a piece of sugar cane stalk. In my early years, we lived on a farm-ranch and so some things were more readily available than if we’d been city folks. When I was eight, we moved into “town,” Teague (population 3,300). The four Webb boys might be seen walking around with said sugar cane in hand as we chewed on it to get the sweet juice. I admit the idea’s a bit repugnant now after going through sequences of a skinny-150-pound- youngadult to a 275-pound-porker then back to a more reasonable 190-pound-mature-adult.
An occasional special treat involved her buying a coconut. First, Mother would puncture the “eyes” of the coconut and drain the “milk” ( juice) from it and we’d get a couple of swallows of that before she got the hard shell broken up and the “meat” excised so we could eat it.
When we reached school age, Mother was always seeking ways to keep us gaining a little weight (or at least not losing), which meant dessert IF we ate a reasonable meal. She packed school lunches that contained those marvelous candy bars by Peter Paul.
“Willis, you get an Almond Joy since you like almonds, coconut and chocolate and Kerry (Bro. #2), you like dark chocolate and coconut, so a Mounds goes in your lunch,” she’d explain.
“Aw, gee, Mother, do we hafta?”
Later, she decided that maybe the school cafeteria ladies could cook reasonably well (which meant just barely to her standards but no match). So, we occasionally sampled the cafeteria food. However, living just four blocks from the schools, walking home for lunch was no big deal except for the socialization with school pals. Sometimes that was a toss-up, but often Mother’s menu won out.
After school, our house was a regular gathering place for boys. Mother didn’t mind since it meant she knew where we were most of the time. A lot of boys loved coming there if for no other reason than Mother’s cookie jars. That’s right, plural. Normally, one would contain her outstanding “teacakes” (vanilla cookies about three-and-a-half to four inches in diameter. A second jar would hold her world famous fudge, which was to die for. Often, I hid it because I didn’t like sharing that fudge. Vanilla cookies, yeah, but not Mother’s fudge. You’d better be a pretty good buddy for me to tip you off to the chocolate delight. If we were real lucky, there might be a third jar with a different batch of cookies.
Now, you’re beginning to get the drift of why I pretty regularly fight the Battle of the Bulge.
Life Partner manages to monitor our caloric intake, particularly desserts, so it’s not as difficult as it once was to watch the waistline. Mom’s gone now, last May at age 95.
But, LP still has to keep an eye on me. If I find a fudge close to Mom’s it might mean a new wardrobe.