Supper’s Ready!

Tonight I made a meal from my childhood. 

food plate vectorWhen I was a little girl, the evening meal wasn’t dinner. It was supper.

When time came to eat that meal, there was just no telling where I’d be.  I might be working somewhere with my dad outside, or I might be playing by myself in the barn loft, or down across the field at the pond, or I might be way at the back of our small farm, in the woods on the hill.  But even at the edges of the farm, if I was paying attention, I could barely hear my mom’s voice.

“Cassooooooondraaaaaaa!” 

“WhAAAAAAA-aaaaat?”

“Suuuuuupper’s ready!”

Across the fields I’d run, back to the house.  Over to the sink to wash my hands and into my chair at the table I’d slide. And every now and then, there’s be a special treat for supper. food salmon patties for supper

Mom would make salmon patties.

For y’all who don’t know, salmon patties are a peasant version of salmon croquettes.  They’re flatter, like in this picture on the right, and they don’t have nearly as many ingredients. It’s basically a can of salmon, a bit of flour and meal, an egg to hold it together, and a little pepper. Spoon it into a skillet with a little oil and press it out flat so it fries into a crispy outside with a soft, salmon-y center.

It’s simple, country food.

Yes, I see some of y’all scrunching up your noses, but stay with me for just a bit.  There’s a point to this.

My mom’s shopping list back then was very basic compared to my grocery list now.  The entire Houchens grocery in our tiny town would fit into the frozen foods section of the Kroger where I now shop.  There was no fresh seafood back food Houchens old photothen.  It was canned fish or no fish.

The produce aisle in that grocery store was about ten feet long.  “Lettuce” from the store meant iceberg lettuce, and trust me, they’d never heard of flat leaf Italian parsley or arugula.  If we didn’t grow it in the garden, raise it on the hoof or hunt it, we had to take what was there.   

I grew up eating peasant food, you see.

 

There’s an odd bit that you won’t understand unless you grew up eating peasant food the way I did. Tfood iron skillet from best cast iron skillets dot comhe nights that we had salmon patties were “treat” nights. 

My mom was born two years before the onset of the Great Depression, and even all those years later, opening a can of anything was an extravagance.  Just the opposite of the way I cook today. 

I’ve come to understand that salmon patties are a regional peasant food, and that there’s every good chance you’ve never tasted them. 

What fascinates me most about food is this exact kind of dish.  Anywhere you go there are dishes like this—recipes that people have adapted so they can be made from cheap, available ingredients.  And over the decades, those regional recipes have turned into some of the best food you can get anywhere.

Here in Southefood pink salmon walmartrn Kentucky if you go to a country diner and you ask for cornbread, you’ll have to choose.  “You want corn muffins or fried cornbread?” they’ll ask.

Chicken and Dumplins are a “meat” at any meat & three, and macaroni & cheese is a vegetable.

Another favorite regional “vegetable” is macaroni & tomatoes.  It’s exactly what it sounds like.  Macaroni cooked in canned tomatoes, tomato juice and a little water. Sometimes nothing else will do.

Friday nights at any diner means one of the “meats” is catfish (battered and fried) with hush puppies, and the traditional sides are white beans and “slaw.”

Pinto beans come with a slice of raw onion and a scoop of relish on the side.

I was in a diner last year and actually saw pig’s feet on the menu. I ate those when I was a kid, but now….can’t quite go there.

Dry Land Fish is a delicacy and turnip greens are an art form.

Y’all already heard about Green Tomato Ketchup in a blog last year.food grilled salmon 30 percent

Two nights ago we had fresh grilled salmon.  That’s it cooking in the photo  on the right.  It was marinated in olive oil, fresh, chopped garlic and chopped parsley.  We eat that usually twice a week. So you see,  I don’t cook the way my mom did much.

But I still appreciate it, and just every now and then I miss it. 

I’ve had fabulous crab cakes and wonderful salmon croquettes  at eateries on the coast.   I love fresh fish.  I’ll raise my hand and admit that I’m a sushi fanatic.

But tonight I didn’t have any fresh meat or seafood in the fridge, so I reached in the pantry for a can of salmon and didn’t feel one bit deprived.  I mixed it up and five minutes later I had salmon patties fryin’ in the skillet.  That was them up there on the right with the mashed potatoes and green beans.

If I could take any kind of “round the world” tour, it would be a tour where I learn about the local wines and the peasant food. 

So, Bandits and Buddies, tell me about the food where you live, or where you grew up.

Did you eat dinner in the evenings?  Or supper?

Are any of you interested in peasant food the way I am?  What is the peasant food from your area?  Are there regional dishes from those locales that you can’t get anywhere else–maybe dishes from your area that are simplifications of “fancier” food, like my salmon patties are, I figure, the peasant food based on croquettes?

Have you ever traveled to a different place and been surprised by the food there?

Have you ever eaten salmon patties?

I’ve got a hero in my latest book who was born in New England and comes to stay a while in Kentucky, where he meets the heroine.  Are any of  y’all from that part of the country?  If so, tell me–if he moved to landlocked Kentucky, what foods would he miss most?

What foods do you think would surprise him?

Would he think it was strange if the heroine said, “supper’s ready?”

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Comments

88 Comments

  • Helen says:

    Is he coming to visit me on this cold windy day

    Have Fun
    Helen

  • Helen says:

    Cassondra

    I love remembering the meals we had as kids we grew up in the suburbs and had big supermarkets but we were not well off by any means and Mum always had to save as much as she could and our meals were pretty plaine compared to what people have today and we used to have salmon rissoles and they are still afavourite of mine and yes a tin of salmon some onion parsley and mashed potato was all that was in them then fried I still make them a fair bit hubby loved them.

    Our evening meal was always called tea and when we had fish it usually had been freshly cought while we were on holidays at the beach and there is nothing nicer.

    Have Fun
    Helen

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Helen, your salmon recipe sounds fabulous.

      What is onion parsley?

      And so you put leftover mashed potatoes IN the salmon patties?

      I’d love to see your recipe.

      Now I’m interested in these regional salmon patties!

      • Helen says:

        Cassondra

        Tin of samlon some onion chopped and chopped parsley 1 egg some breadcrumbs and smashed potato mixed together make into a pattie roll in breadcrumbs and cook in oil yum

        Have fun
        Helen

        The wind has settled down but still chilly 🙂

        • Cassondra Murray says:

          Helen, I have leftover mashed potatoes. I’m going to try this!

          When I was growing up, another peasant food was potato cakes. Basically you just took the leftover mashed potatoes and made them into patties, friend them in a pan and had those for supper.

  • Amy Conley says:

    Well Cassondra since we live in the same area, I’ve at least been offered the foods on your list. The thing is, I haven’t always lived here. I also grew up with 2 very different types of great-grandparents, one set very formal British the other, very poor pheasant Polish. So my mother spent most of her time with her proper British grandparents, so we were raised eating dinner…until my mother married my step-dad who grew up in this area and expected supper when he got home from work. Salmon patties were a Friday night staple aas we’re Catholic and you have to eat fish on Friday. I’d never had the macaroni, ground beef, and tomato until I got married and my in-laws made it.

    We have this deal when we travel to eat out in places we don’t have around here, and we’ve found some great places.
    Now if someone came here from New England they ewould miss fresh seafood.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Amy, I think that’s the best of both worlds! You got foods from three different cultures!

      And did your mom learn to make the polish foods your dad was used to eating?

      I’d love to see the list of great places you’ve eaten. That’s one of the things we sometimes do as well–we pick a small town, go there, and find the little diner or local hole-in-the-wall restaurant, and eat there. It’s fun! Nice people, interesting places.

  • Cassondra, you’re speaking to the converted when you say how delicious salmon patties are. We used to call them fishcakes and my mother made an absolute doozy very similar to the ones you describe, except she used to include mashed potato in hers to bulk them out and hold them together. Oh, man, they were ambrosia! She grew up on a farm very similar to the one you did (we’ve talked about this before). They didn’t have much money but they always had lots of milk and eggs and veg because they could grow that. That’s the secret of peasant food – using what you’ve got to hand. So she was a dab hand at things like jam and chutneys. Again, preserving what was in season for when it wasn’t. She made the most delicious custard! The milk and eggs dish par excellence!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Anna, I think I’ve had custard maybe three times in my life, and am no judge of whether it’s any good or not, since I don’t know what it’s supposed to be, really.

      I mean, I can read in books, but that’s not the same as tasting a really good one and going from there. When I was growing up, “custard” was something I read about in books that featured the British.

      I’m going to have to explore custard now.

  • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

    We eat supper in WV and yes, I have salmon patties often. I can’t make them like my aunt and mother did but they work. I love that you can get canned salmon now without the bone and skin because I really didn’t like pulling all that out. We are neighbors of a sort so the food is very similar. When we had salmon patties we also had pinto beans and spinach

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Dianna, my mom always just crushed up all that stuff with the salmon and included it. That may sound gross to everyone else, but it’s been pressure cooked so it’s soft and it mushes right up. Of course, I grew up eating squirrel and rabbit and pig’s feet, so the bones in the salmon can didn’t bother me.

      Come to think of it, I don’t see many in the salmon I get now. Hmmm…I wonder if they’ve changed what they’re doing.

      • Dianna aka Hrdwrkdmom says:

        My mother would always stand and pick all the bones and skin out so I do too, but they do have it now without all that. She used cornmeal and eggs too, my aunt used cracker meal, hers were just a tad crispier.

  • Shannon says:

    This brings back memories.

    I grew up on a farm. We were usually doing chores on the farm or homework when Mom called. We were subsistence farmers, so we had beef, pork, chicken, deer, and elk in season. Also pheasant and grouse. Vegetable were from the garden in spring and summer; canned in fall and winter. Our food was meat, vegetable, potato, and dessert. We’d trade half a beef with the neighbor who had milk cows. Whipped cream was hit and miss; too early it wouldn’t whip; too late, it easily turned into butter.

    Moving all over the country, I’ve discovered other foods. In Syracuse, bagels; in Texas barbeque beef brisket; in North Carolina, pulled pork in a vinegar marinade; in Egypt, chicken tikka, fetoush, and koushri. Now that I live in the DC area, I can get almost anything if I want to eat out or from international supermarkets.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Shannon, I love the food in DC. When I visit Bandita Jeanne, we always end up at a little Kosher deli near her. You can fit the Jewish population of our area into a small closet, so we don’t get anything like those foods down here. I love it that you’ve gotten to try so many foods from different cultures.

  • Caren Crane says:

    Cassondra, get out of my head! I was planning to make salmon patties this week. I still plan on it, though it may have to wait until the weekend. Mama always added chopped onion to ours, so I make mine that way. And no flour, just corn meal.

    I adore salmon patties! Only for me, it was a special “fancy” treat. There were so many of us growing up (family of 7), that canned salmon was expensive to use. We far more often had whatever fish we had caught at Poppa’s farm. But that Double “Q” can brought back serious memories!

    I now buy cans of salmon in bulk at Costco. We never could have imagined such bounty back in the day, when all our grocery shopping was done at the Big Star on Gallatin Rd in east Nashville. Which later became Food Town. Which is now some convenience or discount store, I’m sure.

    And yes, we grew up eating “supper.” My husband still says it (he grew up in Charlotte and his mother was from SC), but I have stopped for some reason. I only say it now when I want to sound really Southern. 😀

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Caren, I will have to look for salmon at Sam’s Club. I never thought of it.

      And yes, that is well said. Such bounty we have! Steve’s uncle was here on Sunday for a quick drop-in visit, and he saw two mangoes lying on my counter, already overripe. He commented that those were too wonderful to let ruin.

      I agreed completely, but opined that we are so busy now, and life so hectic, that I buy food, then something happens and we’ll end up eating out or doing something else, and I’ve decided that I simply cannot feel guilty because it wouldn’t help. Life right now means I throw away a lot of unused food, so I will simply be thankful and feel blessed that I have this bounty and can afford it. Many people can’t, but my mangoes are not going to save them, so I will not fret about it. He agreed that this was the best way.

      My “people,” though–they would be aghast at what gets wasted, at the plenty we have now.

      Bounty indeed.

  • Laurie G says:

    I grew up in Wisconsin in a German/Polish community. Brats in beer and onions and German Potato Salad are big hits. Also sauerkraut and pork dishes. I do not like sauerkraut. Kolaches and cream puffs were the desserts at buffets. Eating smoked fish, Friday Night fish fries and smelt at bars are the norm.

    My grandmother and mom canned sweet sour and dill pickles they also canned fresh raspberries. They made their own jam usually strawberry.

    I’ve never tried a salmon or crab patty.

    We called our evening meal dinner.
    My maternal grandparent had their dinner at noon and supper in the evening. They pan fried pork chops, hamburger, chicken and steaks. I rarely saw her use the oven.

    My Hungarian M-I-L was big on Hungarian/German food: cherry, apple and cheese strudel, rouladen, pork snitzel , chicken paprikash and goulash. She taught me how to bake with yeast. I loved her apple cake.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Laurie G, that part of the country is completely foreign to me. I have learned to say “hot dish” for certain casseroles (but not all, as I understand it) and I’ve tried snitzel a couple of times, but I don’t think I had good examples.

      I want to travel through there some day and try all that food I’ve never experienced.

      One thing I have noticed is that we are now getting smelt in the grocery fish case. I have no idea what to do with it, but it’s so good for you, I want to learn. How do they serve smelt in bars?

      I admit that all those little eyes staring up at me from the fish case is a bit bothersome, but I’m a country girl. I could get over that.

  • Debbie Oxier says:

    I live in Indiana. We always had supper, never dinner. Being from ‘southern’ Indiana, everything was fried. Pork chops, chicken, hamburgers, bacon, you name it – even pig brains – and it was fried. No one could fry a chicken like my grandma. To this day I haven’t found any I like better. And everything had gravy. Grease and gravy, but Lord was it good! Pinto beans were flavored with bacon. Green beans seasoned with bacon grease. You get the picture. And yes, we often had FRIED salmon patties. We almost never ate out and when it was time to eat, unless you were sick or dying you came to the table. There was no watching television during supper. No talking on the phone – we had party lines anyway and most of the time you couldn’t get through. Of course, cell phones hadn’t been invented so texting was out. There were no video games. We played outside, weather permitting, and used our imagination to come up with creative ways to entertain ourselves. It was great! My kids have no idea what it was like or how good it was back then!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Debbie, we grew up the same way.

      Southern Indiana is not far from me as the crow flies, and it sounds like our lifestyles were the same back then. Yours more corn oriented, and mine more tobacco oriented maybe, but all the same, I could say everything you said about living that way.

      And the “coming to the table” is a thing I wish we could get back. Even Steve and I often eat at the computers. He in the front office/foyer and me at the kitchen table, working or surfing the web.

      Hmmm…I’m gonna have to make an effort to fix that.

  • Cassondra, you’re bringing back childhood memories here.

    Even though we lived in Columbus and not on a farm, our house was EXACTLY our back yard, the alley, the neighbor’s entire backyard and a street away from the local park. The park that had softball fields, a small fountain pool, tennis courts, swings, slides and arts & craft building with covered patio AND BASKETBALL COURTS, which is where you’d find my brother. Often I was on the swings with my best friend Marion and my sister Sami.

    Mom would yell out the back door, Thom, Suz, Sam….SUUUUUUUUUUUUUPER’s ready. Had the same affect on us it did on you! Home in minutes flat! It also helped to know that dinner was generally on the table at about 5:30 every night, because my daddy was a construction worker and very hungry by that time.

    Salmon patties were a treat at our house, too. I’ve made them for my kids, (who got a kick out of it coz it sounded like their two aunts, Sam-and-Patty’s). I baked mine however.

    Another peasant meal at our house was: a pot of fresh cooked greenbeans, sliced tomatoes from the garden, fried corn and cornbread, sweet onion wedges on the side. Yep, we had a vegetarian meal once a week or so, when being a vegetarian wasn’t cool. 🙂

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Suz, we had the vegetarian meal now and then too, when mom didn’t feel like fixing meat. Every now and then my daddy would say, “I just want milk and bread.” He’d crumble up a bunch of cornbread or “biscuit bread” which was a pone of bread made out of biscuit dough, and he’d pour “sweet milk” over it and just eat that. Not because he didn’t want whatever was for supper. He was just in the mood for that.

      I’m interested that you also had salmon patties. I thought they were more regional. I am pleased that so many of y’all have had them. The recipes though—sounds like they’re as different as the individual.

  • Dianna Love says:

    We had both – the old folks called it supper and many of the younger ones called it dinner, but that’s because Florida isn’t really south. It’s a huge melting pot of people. I would think your guy might miss a good Shepherd’s pie (if he’s Irish) – I miss some of the one’s I’ve had in Boston. Haven’t found a really good one down here yet. 🙂

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Hi Dianna! *waves*

      I’m not sure I’ve ever had a truly good shepherd’s pie. I’ve had some that were wonderful, but I don’t know how one judges. We didn’t have those growing up of course, and if lamb is the necessary ingredient, you can forget it. I never saw a live sheep until I was 20.

      I’m guessing your peasant food included LOTS of fish. *grin*

  • Hi Cassondra –

    I grew up in a rowhouse in Baltimore, MD and we had salmon cakes. Crab was just too expensive so Mom would open a can of salmon and make patties with onion, parsley, and crushed crackers with a beaten egg as a binder, then fry them up in a pan. We’d eat them on a big square of Saltine cracker with ketchup. (Saltines were packaged in a big square of four small squares back then.) Those were favored meals.

    I recall supper and dinner being used pretty much interchangeably. I recall doing some serious thinking about this when I was small 🙂 and decided that “dinner” meant lunch and “supper” meant the evening meal. When it was time to eat, my mom would yell out the back door and we kids would come running. Later we moved to Cincinnati across from a big church with a bell tower. The carillon would sound at 6 PM and everyone knew in the family that you’d best have your butt in the chair by the time the musical interlude ended or there’d be hell to pay (and chances are – no food to eat. Eating in my family was often a game of strategy. A consequence of growing up with two brothers and two sisters).

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Donna, I love the image of the bells starting to play and the kids running to the table.

      That whole “strategy for supper” is something I never experienced. Not sure I’d want to, but kids in large families always seem to have that in common.

      We were always taught to leave some in the bowl in case someone else wanted some of that–never to take the last of any given dish. Hmmm…maybe that’s why I always fix too much food–the need to always have some left.

  • Joysann says:

    From the new working-class burbs of the 50s near St. Paul Minnesota, I barely knew what the word “dinner” meant. Supper all the way. Though of German descent, we weren’t locked in to any heritage type foods. Mom made goulash often, but I don’t think it was much like what is considered genuine. Mom cooked mostly very blandly. (I don’t like spicy even today.) anyway, Cassondra, if you leave out the pepper, I would love for you to fix me some of those delicious sounding salmon patties. Those do sound like special treats.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Hi Joysann! *waves madly*

      I would love to fix you some salmon patties someday. Sans pepper. *grin*

      Truth is though, mine are very simple compared to some of the recipes I’m reading.

      You know….in that era, a lot of people had come north from Kentucky and Tennessee to work in the rubber plants in the Akron area. I still have family up there. My dad moved back down to Kentucky after that–before I was born–but I wonder if the two cultures didn’t mix and mingle because of that migration of workers to the jobs after WWII? And with that mingling would have come some food mingling too I’m betting.

      Never had Goulash. Would like to taste your mother’s, bland or not. :0)

  • April says:

    It was Dinner. LOL

  • catslady says:

    We had supper! Oh, I miss the meals of days gone past. All my grandparents came from Sicily and my mom’s mom was the best cook. All those homemade Italian dishes. And they worked a vegetable farm so all summer we had fresh vegetables. My mom wasn’t really a cook (her sister was though lol) although she did okay lol. We were one step below your salmon patties and had tuna patties or plain spaghetti every Friday. The tuna patties were cooked in tomato soup until it thickened – loved that dish.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Ohhhh….Catslady, now that’s a style of cooking I’d love to experience first hand, and also I’d love very much to learn to cook real Italian food. I know I’m not the only one, and lots of people want to learn that, but I’m guessing unless you grew up with it, you don’t know the authentic taste.

      It’s interesting to me that almost everybody who’s commented had some kind of fish patties in their diet, and it was made with canned fish. I wasn’t expecting that.

  • Dianne says:

    I am from Worcester, MA, where the final meal of the day was supper. I went to college in NYC and have lived in FL for almost 20 years now, and now I say dinner at my house.

    Peasant food reminds me of the American chop suey – could that be more politically incorrect?! – my Mom made. Elbow macaroni, tomatoes (stewed maybe?), and ground hamburger.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Dianne, you are the second person to mention the macaroni with tomatoes and beef.

      We had mac & tomatoes, but it never had beef in it. I’m guessing it’s because the beef was often too expensive.

      I might have to look up that dish and see how it’s made–see if I can duplicate it. I’m interested in trying that.

  • Mona Livsey says:

    Oh my gosh that really brought back memories.
    Growing up in the continental USA my grandparents were from Illinois but lived in California. They always had supper as the midday meal on the weekends or holidays around 1 PM. Monday through Friday it would be dinner and that would be around five or 6 PM.
    I always thought it was strange that we’re having supper in the middle of the day but then we would have a smaller meal later or leftovers.
    Now I live in Hawaii and the evening meal is called either supper or dinner depending on where an individual was raised.
    My mother loves Salmon so we had Salmon patties growing up.
    Here in Hawaii we have “local” food which to us would be an equivalent to peasant food but what others would call exotic. Local food here is a mixture of cultures and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
    I love food, eating it, cooking it, preparing it For others. My friends tease me that my Facebook page has food porn because I post so much many food recipes!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Ah, Mona, I see we have things in common! I love food. I love the differences and how different cultures fix it. Your food porn sounds exciting to me!

      And I bet it’s fantastic having all those cultural influences around you. Everyone wants to go to Hawaii of course, but now I’m interested in trying the local peasant food more than anything!

  • Missy Taylor says:

    When I go out to DINNER it’s dinner. But if I am eating at home it’s SUPPER. 😀

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Ooooo…Missy, I LIKE that designation.

      “Let’s go out to supper” just doesn’t quite work as well. I think you’re onto something!

  • Heathercm2001 says:

    Hi Cassondra! We called it dinner around my house. We had a lot of Polish foods growing up, but some of my favorites weren’t very fancy, or Polish, at all. Mac and cheese was a big one. Hot dogs on the grill. I think my all-time favorite is my Dad’s “re-fry.” Every year, the day after Thanksgiving, all the leftovers are thrown into a pan and fried up. Sooooooo good!

    I’ve only done one trip where I made a huge effort to really go out on a limb and try some different foods. New Orleans! That trip has made me way more likely to try some new dishes when I get the chance!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Hi Heather!

      I’m so interested in your dad’s “re-fry”–How did he do it exactly?

      He’d throw in the turkey and the green beans and the corn casserole and the cranberry sauce all in the same skillet?

      Is it soup-like?

      Or what?

      • Heathercm2001 says:

        It’s usually the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing, and rice. He just throws it in the pan and mashes it all together and fries it up. Not soupy. I guess we have a pretty simple Thanksgiving dinner, but we always get together the day after Thanksgiving for it. Best form of leftovers!

        • Cassondra Murray says:

          Ohhh…almost like a hash of sorts.

          I’ll have to look up recipes for this–see if I can figure out how to do it.

          Gosh, that might be worth a turkey dinner in July. *grin* (always looking for an excuse)

  • Hellion says:

    It was supper (and it’s still mostly supper. *LOL* Even now.)

    Yes, I grew up a peasant; and still pretty peasanty now…and we had salmon cakes. *LOL* One of Dad’s favorite dishes (and I loved them when I was a kid.) We used to use mackeral instead when salmon was too pricey.

    Can of salmon + sleeve of saltines crushed + egg. If you want to get fancy, grated onion mixed in gives a nice sweetness to everything. I don’t like regular salmon as much as I like the cakes. *LOL* So when I do fish-fish, I stick to the white kind. Tilapia…or something else we never could afford. *LOL*

    We would have fried fish, cottage potatoes and onions, cottage cheese, sometimes pinto beans. Spinach was kinda popular in our house; we’d actually buy cans of that because it was one of the things we didn’t buy. Dad mostly saved his garden for green beans, potatoes, peas, squash, watermelon, tomatoes, and sometimes corn. He probably grew more, but that’s what I remember before mom and dad got old enough that they were like, “We’re not fooling with this. Just buy an onion.” (This would be by the time there was only 3 of us; having a big garden wasn’t real sensible.)

    I work with students at a university, so sometimes I have international students who invite me for dinner. Some of their dishes have been…interesting.

    There was a dinner with Mustafa (I brought a pretend boyfriend to make sure Mufasa wasn’t making moves)–and the PB wasn’t exactly open to new food items. This turned out to be an issue. PB kept trying to hide his soup in MY soup bowl, hiding foodstuff in his paper napkin then going outside to throw it away, the whole bit. Mustafa was not impressed with my man picking skills. I enjoyed the meal: it was lentil soup, a meat/potato/onion stew like dish, and tea. Of the Turkish students, the ones who taught me how to make fried cauliflower and yogurt soup–those are my favorite recipe finds.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Hellion, what are cottage potatoes?

      Your forays into international cuisine are really interesting! I’ve never had Turkish food that I know of, but that cauliflower and yogurt soup sounds so interesting!

      I think it’s the way different cultures combine flavors that excites me most. Stuff I would never think of. Some of it I love and some of it not so much, but always interested to try it. I figure if people have been eating that for centuries, it’s not gonna hurt me to try it, and I might find out something really amazing!

  • Cassondra, I recognize that can of salmon! I grew up eating salmon patties just like that–usually for supper, rather than dinner. I say supper, and the dh, a Colorado native, says dinner. If we’re going out, though, it’s to dinner, not supper.

    I’m not a foodie, so exploring cuisine is not a priority for me. But I do enjoy eating in pubs in the UK, and I loved the Indian restaurant Anna and Doc Cambridge took me to, as well as the English and Italian ones where I ate with my London friends.

    No idea what would confuse your hero, except, of course, that grits would probably both confuse and appall. Red-eye gravy, a favorite of my dad’s, might be a new thing for him.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Nancy, yes I imagine that red eye gravy would not be a staple in New England. Although I am surprised to find the Massachusetts and Maryland commenters saying that it was supper for them, and even more surprised to find that some form of salmon patty is found nearly everywhere so far.

      I’ve never understood the mouth-hangs-open about grits. We didn’t have those growing up, but my mom would sometimes open a can of hominy, which I found utterly disgusting, so I was surprised to find I liked grits, but never appalled by the idea of them.

      Still…if you eat fish that’s been handled in the strange ways people do in the far north, grits don’t seem all that odd to my thinking….

      Maybe that’s another blog–“Don’t be hatin’ on grits.”

      • Grits are better, I find, with ample butter in them, or cheese. By themselves, they’re kind of bland and mealy. When I was a kid, we were allowed grape jelly in our grits.

        The Hyatt in Atlanta, one of the Dragon*Con host hotels, has added a yummy shrimp and grits to their menu (and they’ll make the dish without sausage, which is a relief to me since I don’t eat sausage).

  • EC Spurlock says:

    Cassondra, as a native New Englander how your hero would react would depend on where in New England he hailed from, both in specific geography and in social status. I grew up in a working-class area where if your grandmother spoke English you were an anomaly. We had dinner at noon and supper in the evening. People in Hartford or New Haven had lunch and dinner and looked down on us for having bad manners and poor taste. I grew up on pierogies, potato pancakes, potato pie (basically a french fry omelet), lasagna and the regulation fried flounder on Fridays. We would use fresh fish for patties like that, usually cod or haddock; we NEVER used fish out of a can except tuna. The most exotic thing in town was our one Chinese restaurant, which my mom was very suspicious of (she had heard stories about the wierd stuff those people put in their cooking!) until I brought some take out home and it became an acceptable substitute for fish during Lent.

    Universal things your hero would miss would be fresh fish and shellfish (it’s rare and expensive here and I miss it), New York style pizza (doesn’t work with Southern water in the crust), McIntosh apples (a very specific taste), the thousand shapes and sizes of specialty pastas. Things we don’t have in New England that I grew to love: grits (with lots of butter! Reminds me of pastina, another childhood comfort food) and fried okra (or any kind of okra). Things your heroine would be appalled at: New England boiled dinner. The first time my mother served my husband pork ribs boiled with sauerkraut and potatoes he was aghast! To him the ONLY way to cook ribs was smoked on the barbacue grill with spicy rub and sauce!

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      EC, now I’m not sure my folks would have been a bit appalled by the boiled dinner. I’ve never had it just that way, but my grandmother made boiled pork, and there’s absolutely NOTHING like that amazing flavor. So pork and potatoes boiled together I can totally see–but I wouldn’t have thought of putting the sauerkraut in it.

      When we had kraut, it was with pig’s feet, which were, in fact, boiled. That’s how you cooked them. And sometimes we had boiled potatoes as a side. So I wonder if it’s very different the way it’s fixed up there? Very interested in this, and would love to try it. Husband doesn’t like kraut, but I’m not above fixing it just for myself.

      • EC Spurlock says:

        I’m happy eating the ribs either way. In fact, we recently tried a BBQ shack that we pass by all the time but had never eaten in before. Just from the texture of the ribs I KNEW these folks boiled them before smoking! Never knew anyone else who combined the two techniques.

        And I just thought of one thing your hero would definitely miss — BIRCH BEER! Quite different from root beer and comes in two styles, red (sweet) and clear (spicy, my favorite). Every town and bottler has their own recipe and favorite. And I know for a fact that you can’t get it any further west or south than Pennsylvania. I’m not even sure you can get it in New Jersey. But it’s incredibly delicious stuff and every Southerner I’ve introduced to it becomes instantly addicted!

        • Cassondra says:

          Okay now I have to try this Birch Beer! What is the main flavor component?

          • EC Spurlock says:

            Honestly? I have no clue how they make it or how to describe it. I assume they use birch bark or roots the way they use sassafrass for root beer, but birch beer is lighter in flavor with a very crisp, clean taste. The sweet variety can taste almost like sugar water with a bit of a spicy tang; the white, spicy kind is very light and crisp with notes similar to ginger, nutmeg and clove. It’s as if you took crisp winter New England morning air and distilled it into a liquid. The best we have had is Frozen Run, which you can only get in eastern Pennsylvania. You might be able to order it online.

  • Jeff Salter says:

    When I was a kid, we ate supper at night.
    The meal they served at school was LUNCH.
    However, we had several scofflaws who referred to lunch as “dinner”.

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Haha, Jeff, we would be scofflaws exactly like that! At least we were when I was a kid.

      My grandmother, MotherGrant, would say, “I’m cookin dinner fer the ‘hands.” Meaning she was fixin’ the noontime meal for the workhands who were helping my grandfather in tobacco. :0)

      • Jeff Salter says:

        well,. now that I think further on the matter, I do remember that LUNCH on Sundays was Dinner.
        Therefore Sunday Dinner.
        Supper on Sunday was just supper … but, in truth, it was leftovers from Sunday Dinner.

  • Becke says:

    Cassondra,
    We are indeed kindred spirits. I grew up in Southern Ill and of course my mom fixed salmon patties. I loved them. Wouldn’t touch tomatoes and macaroni nor mac n cheese.

    Supper time was mom’s call and we also had a big outside bell at one of our homes.

    In addition to salmon cakes, fried catfish and perch, fried quail, squirrel and dumplings, fried okra, meatloaf, chili-mac, crawfish.

    Are there regional dishes from those locales that you can’t get anywhere else–maybe dishes from your area that are simplifications of “fancier” food, like my salmon patties are,
    We also ate pheasant, not under glass from Grandpa’s shotgun!

    Have you ever traveled to a different place and been surprised by the food there?
    plantains in the Caribbean-yuk

    If so, tell me–if he moved to landlocked Kentucky, what foods would he miss most?
    My guess would be fresh sea food.

    What foods do you think would surprise him?
    Fried catfish maybe. One of my friends at prepschool thought that was horrible because catfish are bottom feeders.

    b

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Becke, I grew up eating all those foods that my dad hunted too, and if there were two squirrels, my mom and I would each get to have a head. Grosses people out totally when I tell them that squirrel brains are yummy.

      Regarding the catfish being bottom feeders, I think that’s the mark of peasant food as a rule, and country folk as, perhaps, a more general rule. You make do with what you’ve got, and if the catfish are what you’ve got, you learn to fix those so they’re good.

      I don’t like to eat carp for that same reason, but they do taste like mud to me. Catfish don’t. I love the taste of it.

      And I think you’re right. My hero would raise his eyebrows at eating catfish. I have a birthday party to take him to in this book. Perhaps it’ll be at the local catfish house. *grin*

    • Cassondra Murray says:

      Gosh, now I’m craving catfish, darnit.

      • Deb says:

        I’m not much of a fan of fish, but we eat a lot of flounder and tilapia because it doesn’t taste “fishy”. But, 2 years ago, when in Texas, the special at a little diner one night was fried catfish. Oh, my gosh! It was so good!

        • Cassondra says:

          Deb, Catfish becomes a whole new thing when it’s fried up that way. Watch out, or you’ll start to crave it.

      • EC Spurlock says:

        LOVE fried catfish. There’s a little hole in the wall shack up by Lake Tugaloo that makes just the best fried catfish on earth. They give you about 8 pieces and it’s so light you can eat them all and never feel it.

        Catfish has a very different texture from the sea fish we usually get in New England; it’s chewier and meatier and doesn’t “flake” like cod or flounder so it’s harder to know if it’s cooked through. It’s a whole different experience and some people don’t care for the texture but I love it.

        • Cassondra says:

          EC Spurlock, when you get good catfish, you get hooked on it. We don’t have a good place in our town, but on the weekends, people make the 30-mile drive to the next town over for the catfish at a little place you couldn’t find if you didn’t know where to look. Gosh, it’s good.

  • Faye says:

    It was always supper in our home in the Pocono mountains area of NE PA

    • Cassondra says:

      Faye, I’ve been surprised at how many of the comments have said it was “supper” when they were growing up! I thought that was only a southern thing, but clearly that’s not the case!

  • Mozette says:

    Did you eat dinner in the evenings? Or supper?

    It was always dinner, not supper. Supper was for later in the evening at around 10pm or 11pm where you had port and cheeses… that was supper

    Are any of you interested in peasant food the way I am? What is the peasant food from your area? Are there regional dishes from those locales that you can’t get anywhere else–maybe dishes from your area that are simplifications of “fancier” food, like my salmon patties are, I figure, the peasant food based on croquettes?

    We don’t really have peasant food here. We had working class food of steak and veggies and a roast chicken on Sunday and roast veggies with gravy (now, that latter one was special!). But otherwise, I’m more into making dishes that are European than anything else.

    Have you ever traveled to a different place and been surprised by the food there?

    Oh yeah! I went to the UK and they ate very rich foods there. I found it was hard on my stomach and I had to get pills to help with my digestion.

    Have you ever eaten salmon patties?

    Yes… very nice when they’re made from fresh salmon. I’ve also eaten salmon and mushroom roll. One of my friend’s had a cholesterol problem (it was really high) and her Mum cooked this roll which was mushy and disgusting… I thought I was going to be ill, but everyone else ate it.

    I’ve got a hero in my latest book who was born in New England and comes to stay a while in Kentucky, where he meets the heroine. Are any of y’all from that part of the country? If so, tell me–if he moved to landlocked Kentucky, what foods would he miss most?

    I’m from Australia… not land-locked… sorry. 😛

    What foods do you think would surprise him?

    Would he think it was strange if the heroine said, “supper’s ready?”

    • Cassondra says:

      Mozette, I’ve decided I’m going to try my old-fashioned salmon patties with fresh salmon next time. I’ll just buy a bit extra so there are leftovers.

      And yes, I would have to agree, the roll does not sound good. :0(

  • Cassondra, I grew up in southern Illinois. Not the south, but everyone had a southern accent. And yes, I’ve eaten many salmon patties for supper. They were definitely a treat in our family too. Thanks for a trip down memory lane. I haven’t thought of those in a long time.

    • Cassondra says:

      Hi Tracey, and so glad you stopped by!

      I know we’re all supposed to get tired of the food from our childhoods, but I love these patties.

  • Deb says:

    Cassondra, you grew up in Kentucky and I grew up in Iowa, but your childhood remembrances often reflect mine. Thanks for sharing about them on the blog because I really enjoy reading about your reflections.

    My favorite meal from my childhood was ham and navy beans over cornbread with maybe even some maple syrup drizzled on top. I remember telling my mom that and she told me that we had that a lot at the end of the month because it was a cheap meal and Dad didn’t get paid until the first, so she had to stretch her grocery money. Interesting, that.

    We did have salmon patties for supper quite frequently (dinner was the noon meal on Sunday or a fancy-company is coming evening meal, noon meal on the other days was lunch.). My mother made them with flour and soaked crackers with salt and pepper. I like fresh baked or grilled salmon now, but have not made salmon patties in years.

    We also had poor man’s steak a lot: baked hamburger patties with gravy and carrots and potatoes. Step it up a little with minute steak, and that was an “ooh” meal. I still make this and chicken fried steak.

    Another treat was cooked rice with sugar, raisins, and chopped apples.

    Lastly, every. single. night. my grandpa had his bedtime snack of crushed saltines in a bowl of milk with sugar and a bit of cinnamon. It’s good, and I sometimes have that, too. Ritz crackers are good this way as well. (Mock apple pie during the Depression.)

    Thanks again for sharing. 🙂

    • Cassondra says:

      Deb, your ham & navy beans over cornbread sounds so interesting! And wow–maple syrup can’t be bad drizzled over any ham dish.

      Do you know how to make that now? Can you give me a rundown on how it works? I make good cornbread but never would have thought of doing this combination.

      • Deb says:

        Well, you can by the navy beans in a jar, so a quick way to do it is just heat on the stove, throw in chunks of ham, and simmer. Then spoon over the cornbread. But, my mom used to soak dried beans overnight, cook them for several hours, then would throw in a ham bone and ham, simmering for quite some time on low so the beans would take on the taste of the ham.

        • Deb says:

          Oops, buy….darned Kindle with its auto correct or trying to read my mind.

        • Cassondra says:

          Haha! Autocorrect has become the bane of everyone’s existence. Although it has saved me sometimes.

          So did your mom get a smoked ham? Or what? I’m interested in what made the flavor so good for you when you were a kid.

          And was there anything else in it that you can remember?

          I’m totally going to make this!

          • Deb says:

            It was usually a left-over baked ham from a Sunday dinner. Nothing else, just the beans, ham, maybe some of the juice drippings of the ham. She put the ham bone in, too, to add to the flavor. 🙂

  • Alyn says:

    I have never heard of salmon patties before. They don’t sound that bad. They actually look quite good. They remind me of a beef patty my mom used to make. It was ground beef with vermicelli noodles, and green onions. They were considered treats back then too. Thinking about them makes me want to attempt to make them.

    • Cassondra says:

      Alyn they are so easy!

      There are a ton of recipes on the web. Mine are simple, but some of them are more complex. Pink salmon makes the best salmon patties. I drain the salmon, then I put in about a quarter cup of flour, a quarter cup of meal, beat an egg and stir that in, add a little pepper, then spoon it into the hot skillet (I use canola oil so no transfats or cholesterol for my husband) press it out kinda flat so it’s maybe 3/4″ thick, and fry until it’s golden brown on one side, flip it over and repeat.

      They’re even better left over the next day. They make great sandwiches.

  • Beth says:

    dayum! it is supper for us folks! lol and yes Mac and Cheese is a Veggie! well at least for me 😛
    and gran’s gumbo and egg plant fritters and corn fritters.. sighs..

    • Cassondra says:

      Okay Beth….you drop a line like “Gran’s gumbo…” and you have to follow up. Seriously.

      And by the way… I don’ t know who that guy is in your avatar, but I can’t stop staring at him. Apologies if that’s your husband, but…gosh…

      *slurp*

  • It was always supper here in eastern Ohio. 🙂