I have fond memories of long ago days when my brothers and I spent countless hours together.
One of my favorite childhood memories with my brothers was when we set up a pretend restaurant. It consisted of a card table with a blanket draped over it, covering each side. We took turns sitting under the table and being the clerk. We had an opening large enough for us to take orders from our siblings and hand them their food. Our set-up represented a drive-through restaurant.
As a little girl, I had a fascination with restaurants. Going out to eat is something we hardly ever did. At that time we were tight on money and going out to eat with our family of seven children was an easily avoided extra expense. We never had a lack of food, though. My mother always did an outstanding job in taking charge of our large garden. The garden yielded amazing amounts of fresh goodies for us to enjoy during the summer with an ample supply to freeze and can for future use.
Eating at a restaurant was basically limited to the trips we took to see our family in Holmes County, Ohio, which was once or twice a year. On these trips we also sometimes packed our lunches to eat along the way, which often consisted of sandwiches and finger foods. Sometimes we had a picnic at a rest area with the food we had packed. That was a highlight for us children as well.
As you can imagine, eating at a restaurant was reason enough for us children to be all excited even if it was just a fast-food restaurant.
I was all excited about having our own little “restaurant” at home. Mom was fine with us having a restaurant with several basic food items such as crackers, cookies, raisins and water. We all knew the agreement that went with it: “Clean up after you’re finished!”
My favorite part was sitting under the table, handing food to my brothers and sisters and collecting their pretend money. I remember Mother also taking the time to come and “purchase” a few items.
When it was my turn to operate the lunch stand, I made a big sign using a sheet of tablet paper. In big letters, I wrote “Gloria’s Goodies.” Although I didn’t tell them at the time, I always had a secret dream of someday owning a real restaurant named “Gloria’s Goodies.” I doubt that will ever happen, though. The closest I’ll probably ever come is playing restaurant with my own children or writing a cookbook someday.
Recently I told my 4-year-old daughter, Julia, how we used to play restaurant years ago. I asked her if she’d like to help me serve Daddy’s supper restaurant-style once he comes home from working at the shop. She was all excited to help plan and prepare it.
I took a pretty piece of paper and wrote “Gloria’s Goodies” on it, along with a menu of our supper and the pretend cost of each item. In case you are wondering if I crawled under the table to do it, the answer is “no, not this time.” Although I will help Julia do that someday. Julia set the table with pretty placemats and silverware.
Several weeks ago, when Daniel’s brother, David, was here for a visit from Danville, Ohio, Julia and I decided to give them supper at “Gloria’s Goodies.” This time I didn’t write down any pricing. David teasingly remarked that he didn’t have any money along anyway.
“That’s alright, actually that’s perfect,” I said. “You won’t be billed until after you’ve finished your supper and, no, you won’t need any money. You’ll just be charged with things such as washing dishes, sweeping the floors and clearing the table.”
They chuckled over the idea and placed their orders, unsure of how serious I was. After finishing up their mock mashed potatoes and gravy, Arizona chicken, and desserts, I told them their supper was free. No charge after all. Poor guys, they had worked hard all day. David kindly pitched in and helped clear the table while Daniel took care of some other things.
You may be curious about my mock mashed potatoes. With David being allergic to potatoes, I decided to treat him to “mashed potatoes” without potatoes. After eating some of mine, he commented that they were good but he had no idea what they were actually made of. The look on his face was incredible when I informed him that the main ingredient was lima beans. He found it hard to believe it was true. The last several months I have been amazed over the many different uses of beans which no one would ever guess. Perhaps I’ll share more of what I have learned in a future letter.
2 cups Lima beans
½ cup sour cream
4 ounces of cream cheese
¼ cup butter
1 teaspoon salt
Cook beans according to direction on the package, adding 5 minutes of cooking time or long enough for beans to be soft enough to easily mash with a fork.
Beat beans until they’re completely smooth. Brown butter in a skillet before adding. It really helps mask the bean flavor. Add remaining ingredients and beat well. You may want to add a bit of milk if your mixture is too thick. I personally would rather have it thin than thick. Serve with gravy or noodles just like you would mashed potatoes.
Readers with culinary or cultural questions or stories can write to Gloria Yoder, 10568 E. 350th Ave., Flat Rock, IL 62427-2019. To see more on the Amish, go to www.amish365.com.