After I was old enough to have a dining table of my own, I vowed not to put several things on it: frozen pot pies, Hamburger Helper and Frosted Flakes. Enough time has passed now I realize that was not the proper attitude, but more along the lines the fictional Scarlett O'Hara expressed in "Gone With the Wind":
"As God is my witness, as God is my witness they're not going to lick me. I'm going to live through this and when it's all over, I'll never be hungry again. No, nor any of my folk. If I have to lie, steal, cheat or kill. As God is my witness, I'll never be hungry again."
The little frozen pot pies used to go on sale six for a dollar at Harvey's, a southern grocery store chain; after my daddy died, those sales were a delight to my mother who was struggling to get by. Making ends meet wasn't happening.
That much, I held true to, none of those little pot pies in aluminum bowls, though Marie Callender's pot pies did make the table. No Hamburger Helper, but Tuna Helper, yes. Was there a shade of victory in helping tuna, as opposed to hamburger, get by my declaration? I think so, twixt my ears.
And Frosted Flakes, it's a wonder I didn't turn into Tony the Tiger as that was my main fortification before school for many years. When I finally got daring enough to refuse to eat them in high school, my mother bought some Carnation Instant Breakfast packets and insisted I drink that stirred into a tall glass of milk. I did--gratefully--and to this day I will consume that for breakfast; there's some in the pantry now.
Once in a great while, before I started high school when my grandmother still lived with us, she'd treat me to the most delectable breakfast I'd ever tasted--an egg scrambled in a small "spider", her word for cast iron skillet, and a piece of "light bread", modern day white bread, toasted on both sides in the spider. She'd put strawberry preserves on the toast, a little salt on the egg, and I'd pour a glass of milk and enter heaven.
Mom made it clear we weren't to make Grannie do anything; she had health issues and needed to rest. But Mom left before dawn to go to work and when Grannie offered to make me eggs and toast, I didn't decline! It was rare, usually by the time I was up and getting ready for school, Grannie had already had her breakfast and taken her medications, we called it medicine then. Every now and then she was running late and did I cherish those mornings!
Some four plus decades later, I'll cook that breakfast for myself from time to time, when cereal isn't appetizing. This frigid weather, called a polar vortex on the heels of Winter Storm Ion, had me in the mood for morning comfort food, a Kizzie (my grandmother's first name she didn't like) kind of breakfast:
I wasn't unhappy with *everything* on my mother's table--Oneida's chateau flatware was her pattern and I liked that. It's been my pattern as well for nearly three decades.
The egg was cooked in a Calphalon non-stick skillet, not much bigger than the spider Grannie used, sprinkled with kosher salt instead of Morton's and the bread is an oatmeal bread, not white. I used a toaster rather than the skillet, less butter on the bread that way, and the preserves had no high fructose corn syrup. The taste, oh joy! Remarkably similar to Grannie's!
Right now it's 29° in Valdosta, GA, unusually cold for this region. My toes feel like ice cubes, but my heart is warm, very warm, with the memory of Grannie's lovingly made breakfast. It was 21° when I cooked it! Mom gets props, too, for it was she who taught me to add a little liquid to the eggs, water or cream.
I wish I could apologize to my mother for being a little food snob and I wish I could thank Grannie for teaching me how to feast like a queen on the simplest of fare. For now, dear friends, I tell you.