Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sundays in Seattle

So last Sunday I made the pork chops and the trifle but not the cocktail. I like to be organized for events like these but instead was driving to the grocery store and the liquor store about an hour before I had wanted to eat these goodies. While driving there I actually yelled out, "It's Sunday!!!!!" This means that you can't get any liquor in Seattle. Being that I am from Chicago and you can buy hard liquor until 2 am in available stores, this is something I will probably never get used to. It's so funny because Seattle is one of the least religious cities in the US and yet no booze on Sundays. The jerks.

Luckily I had brandy in the house from a fig and raspberry tart I made a while back and so I improvised.

I called my Dad before rushing off to the grocery store because I wanted to know more. He said that Grandma J just fried her pork chops like a steak. Salt and pepper and nothing else. That sounded like yuck to me and I was certainly not going to do that. I ended up making a mushroom sherry sauce for them and baked them in the oven after slightly browning in the pan. Being that I have never eaten a pork chop before I thought they had a strange saltiness and tough texture. I might have over-cooked them but I looked it up and it seemed right.....

Dad said that he had never heard of putting applesauce on pork chops and it sounded disgusting. He said that kind of thing is "all American."

"Dad, do you like pork chops?"

"I like lamb chops."

"Of course but what about pork?"

"Not really. They're ok I guess. Why don't you make lamb instead?"

"Did Grandma J ever make lamb?"

"No, I don't think so."

"Did you like Grandma J's cooking?"

"It was all I knew so yeah I liked it."

"What do you mean?"

"Well, let's put it this way, when I got out of the service I thought my mother's cooking was the best in the world."

We moved on to a conversation about the trifle. He was a bit miffed that I was attempting this from across the country where he couldn't get any and proceeded to tell me that my mother thinks they are getting fat (not possible) and she isn't allowing any goodies in the house. Poor Dad. What I learned was the Grandma J didn't care one bit for baking and always used store bought sponge or pound cake for the trifle. This was a shock. It's pretty much unheard of to do this on my mother's side of the family. My mother and grandmother do everything from scratch and rarely use anything from a can, with the exception of some jams and plum butter. Sometimes I cringe a little when people tell me they use things like margarine, or miracle whip, or velveta cheese, or canned fruit, or splenda. I am willing to admit that this is total snobbery, but I really don't get it. I'm the person that orders the real maple syrup at a diner for the extra $2. Well last Sunday I was the person to make a trifle the way my Grandma J made it and that included store bought pound cake, canned peaches, jello, and dear god cool whip. No no no I just couldn't succumb to the cool whip but did buy whipped cream ready made. (also unlike me) What the hell is cool whip made of and why does it give you a horrific stomach ache? Scary stuff.

If you ever attempt a Trifle of any variety, I have this advice for you: make it the day before you want to serve it. I thought the taste was much better the next day because the brandy mellowed out a little and the refrigeration made the whole thing into more of a cake and not a slop that it was when I served it. Come to think of it now though, I seem to remember that she served it in bowls and not plates so maybe appearance and general togetherness of the elements didn't matter. Smart woman.

I found out that Grandma J didn't care much for vegetables and she made either carrots or mashed potatoes or peas every single night. I can't imagine this for the life of me. There are so many amazing tastes out there and so many meals you can make with just vegetables alone, I just wonder why anyone would not even want to try it sometimes. This is sort of a sad finding about her because I knew that she was closed minded and fearful in many other ways, but I had hoped that there might have been something outside the box that tickled her fancy. I guess it was only the occasional cheese pizza.

She will always be a mystery to me. I don't know what kind of relationship she really had with my dad, but I do know that when he married my mom it went very badly. She never accepted us. Her friend at the B&B in Sligo had no idea of who I was, but she knew of my younger cousins. I remember Grandma J being kind to me and always calling me "love," but I never got a sense of warmth from her. A very clear memory I have of her was one day when we were standing in line at TJ Maxx she hit my left boob out of nowhere and said "Gittin a bit big on top aren't you now?" The horror.

I would like to remember good things about her despite the grievances she caused my mom and the fact that I know very little about her at all. What I remember clearly was that she had sparkling blue eyes and dark brown hair. (a selkie she was) She wore dresses or skirts and heels every day of her life. She had her makeup and hair done even just to sit in front of the TV all day. And I will give this detail: O'Byrne was her maiden name.

Someday I hope to make a perfect trifle for her.


  1. This post made me laugh out loud. The conversation with your dad was great, and that bit at the end about your boob was hilarious. I really feel like I'm getting to know your family a bit through your blog, which is awesome.

  2. Aren't Selkies mythological creatures that could turn into Seals?

    (Hits up Wikipedia)

    Yup. Seals that could take on beautiful female form. Very celtic, and often romantic tragedies.

  3. I'm with ya on the cool whip thing. Why buy four dollars worth of ummmm cream, whipped with chemicals (?) unless you must.

  4. Yum, processed food items. Nothin' wrong with a little bit of the bad stuff like miracle whip, as long as you are not eating it straight out of the jar.

    I am impressed with all of your cooking adventures. Keep them coming.