We called it ‘Summer Salad,’ I don’t know why we called it that, but we began making it when the weather turned warm because we sometimes ate it cold – at least as leftovers if there were any leftovers!

It was pasta based, and the children liked the colored curly roni, so that’s what we used.  To that, I added finely chopped sweet pickles (two or three depending on their size), mayo (enough to make it all sticky), and canned tuna, or chopped-up boiled eggs, for protein.  Sometimes even cooked peas and carrots for more color and vitamins.  That was it.  Simple, quick, cheap, nutritious, and best of all – an entire meal in one pot for easy clean up!

I didn’t measure anything.  I’d been cooking since I was a small boy and could barely turn on the stove with the knobs behind and slightly above the burners.  I was puzzled why anyone would make a stove so unsafe for kids to use as that – I had to jump out of the way so the flames would not burn me when I turned a burner on, and had to reach awkwardly behind the flames to turn the burner off.  Only later, as a parent myself, I realized the stove was designed to PREVENT children from using it!  My mother didn’t care about that, she demanded that I do the cooking and, “be careful!”

When I was a college student, one instructor began talking about his wife teaching their daughter, a high school student, how to read a recipe so she could cook.  I was puzzled by that.  What did a recipe have to do with cooking?  The only times I ever used a recipe was to make cakes or cookies, and sometimes not even then.  I hadn’t realized at the time that the instructions my mother had yelled at me WERE the recipes!  I was cooking before I could read.

When my oldest daughter was about ten or so, she requested I write out the recipe for grilled cheese sandwiches.  WHAT???  She wanted every step written down.  I told her, she already knew how to make them, why write it down?  She was adamant, and I love her, so I did.  It was excruciating!  I had made such food automatically for so many decades, I had no idea how to describe it, but I did.  Every…little….step.

And, I hand-printed it on a small card for her to be easy to read.  She glanced at it when I gave it to her and quickly read it.

“I know that,” she said as she put the card down and walked away.  I knew she knew it.  I never understood the point of her request.

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