Tag: housewife

What’s for Dinner? (One Mother Confesses)

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overworked momWhen University of Baltimore MFA student Melinda Cianos suddenly realized she’d never shown her family how to serve themselves dinner, she felt called to instruct.

My father worked at Bethlehem Steel for 20-some years and my mother never finished high school. There weren’t conversations around the dinner table, or elsewhere in the house for that matter, about how and why I should attend college, so I didn’t. I started a family at 22 years old; I had more than enough to keep me busy so I don’t how not having a degree found its way in to start gnawing at me, but it did. I looked away from it until I was 34, at which time I thought, “I’m ready.” What I didn’t realize was that I might be the only one in my household who was.

Steamed Cranberry Pudding: A Sweet Ghost Story

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pudding

As Baltimore writer Sheri Venema reacquainted herself with her mother’s quaint church cookbook, she pondered “a time when a woman became a suffix to her husband” — once her baking was done, she realized much more.

The recipe for Steamed Cranberry Pudding did not speak to me at first. The directions seemed too cryptic: Waxed paper? Tin cans? Also, the tattered cookbook in which I found the recipe originated in the long-ago kitchens of women in my childhood church, and it seemed laden with dishes predictable and dull.

Tuna Noodle Casserole.

Miracle Cheese Cake (lemon Jell-O with cream cheese and sugar).

Oven Barbecue (Spam, tomato sauce, Worcestershire sauce).

Typed on a manual typewriter and then Xeroxed and bound with cheap plastic coil, the cookbooks were sold to raise money for a church society. My copy long ago lost its red cover. I sometimes took it out of its protective Ziploc bag to find a cookie recipe, but mostly I felt superior to this little book with its stains and misspellings. Clearly it came from a time when cream of mushroom soup and oleo ruled every kitchen in my neighborhood, and I had walked away from the Midwestern housewifery prescribed in its pages. I owned a wok and a Silver Palate cookbook. I made my own hummus. 

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