You know it’s quite fitting for my cousin, Lorelle of Lorelle on WordPress, to share in my cooking passion. She was actually present for one of my first culinary experiments.
I’d say the year was 1967 and I was ten years old. My cousin Lorelle and her brother Loren were visiting with their dad, (my Uncle Bud). After my father had passed away two years earlier my Uncle Bud would visit from Lake Stevens, Washington, to help my widowed mother. Mostly he’d kick me and my older brother’s asses for being the little trouble making rats that we were.
One particular afternoon, my two cousins and I were playing outside and decided we were hungry. Being the capable child that I was, I took them into the kitchen to make us peanut butter sandwiches. Our house was in The Dalles Oregon and was built in the mid 40’s. It was a small three bedroom, full basement track home common to that neighborhood and period. The kitchen was small to say the least. It had a door out to the backyard and across from it a door to the basement. The plywood cabinets were a multi-layer of white paint. The counter tops were some kind of composite linoleum, red with fancy sparkles scattered about the surface. The counter edges were a banded chrome strip etched with parallel dark lines.
It was probably a week earlier when in that very same kitchen I learned about food coloring. My mother was working on some sort of baking project and showed me the transformative magic of just a few drops.
As I was pulling out the bread, peanut butter and knife. I spied the food coloring on the cabinet shelf. I had a revelation! I could take this edible and very safe ingredient and mix it into the peanut butter. I was a genius. A true star among kids. The spectacle of seeing me mix the peanut butter into a dark blue paste was pure entertainment to my younger cousins. I carefully spread this new and mystical blue goo evenly on three slices of saintly white bread, then divvied them out.
In a flash we were jetting out of the kitchen and zipping through the living room. Had our mouths not been stuffed with dark blue peanut butter, we would have been squealing with joy. We almost made it to the front door and out to the safety of the yard when I heard my Uncle Bud Scream. “What the Hell”!
We all screeched to a stop and slowly turned to face him.
With his eyes bugged out about as far as any adult could possibly bug out their own eyes the scream turned into, “Oh My #@!%$&! What have you fed my kids?”
Our faces were frozen with fear and our hearts were trembling. I slowly looked over at my cousin Loren and saw his face smeared with this greasy blue paste.
I can only now as a parent myself begin to understand the horror that was going through his mind. When I think about how our faces must have looked. Any sane person could only surmise that we all had just eaten some sort of gasket sealer or toxic epoxy.
As you can imagine I tried to explain to him that it was only harmless blue peanut butter but it took several minutes before I was able to speak. Our leftover portions were quickly snatched from our mitts and I was soundly informed that I was never to feed another thing to my cousins… I sometimes like to think… this was the one time I had kicked my Uncle Bud’s ass.
I love you Uncle Bud and I miss you…