After school, we walked over to the first grade classrooms to pick up her younger brother and the three of us walked home together. When we got there, I was surprised to find that no one was home. She used her key to let us in. We were only 8 or 9 years old and her brother was 6 or 7. This was new, and a little scary to me. My parents would never have let me stay home without an adult at that age.
Once we were inside, Lisa said we had to get dinner started. She opened a little box that was filled with recipe cards and sorted through them. She set one aside and put the rest back in the box. After consulting the recipe, she turned on the oven and we gathered the necessary ingredients. Even at that age, I liked to cook and had even prepared a few meals myself, but my mom always supervised, especially when it came to using the oven.
The recipe we were making was Shepherd's Pie. I had never had it before, but pie for dinner sounded good to me. That is, until we started making it. I'm not a big fan of mixing my food together. There are exceptions of course; omelets, stew, soup, chili, a few casseroles. But you'll never see me mixing my meat with my mashed potatoes. When I was that age, I didn't even like different foods touching each other on my plate. By the time we had smeared cold, premade mashed potatoes over the meat mixture and placed thick slices of cheese on top, I was trying to think of excuses to go home.
Soon after we had put dinner in the oven, her dad came home. He asked about our school day and then went about his business. We headed for Lisa's room to play Barbies. Her little brother followed along and wouldn't leave us alone. He pulled the heads off the dolls and threw them around the room. We ignored him for a while, but finally we could take it no longer. Lisa hollered for her father to come and remove the boy.
I couldn't believe my eyes when he walked into her bedroom. He was dressed in an undershirt and boxer shorts. My dad would often change out of the clothes he wore to work when he got home, too, but he always put clothes back on. I was growing more uncomfortable with Lisa's house by the second.
Eventually her little brother was removed, her dad went back to reading the newspaper in his underwear and we resumed playing Barbies in peace. We had fun. So much fun, in fact, that I forgot all about the scary dinner (made by third graders, no less) awaiting us.
When her mom got home, dinner was served. I was plenty nervous about how I was going to choke it down. At my house, no one was ever forced to eat food they didn't like. We were required only to try a bite or two. But this wasn't my house and I had been taught to be polite. My only hope was to wash it down with lots of juice or water. Great idea, but no dice. At Lisa's house, the only beverage served with dinner was milk. I don't really care for milk unless it's in cereal, but it sounded more appealing than the Shepherd's Pie so I poured myself a big glass when it was passed to me.
Her dad (still in his undies) cut and served the pie. I was thankful that he had given me a small slice. I was confident that I could eat it if I did it fast enough, so I ate quickly. It was as bad, if not worse, than I had imagined so I swallowed without chewing and took large gulps of milk. You would think Lisa's parents would have found my table manners atrocious, but they didn't. Instead, they thought I was enthusiastically enjoying my food. To my horror, I was served another slice. I choked down a few more bites and pretended to be full. I thanked my hosts for a nice dinner and then called my mom to come and pick me up.
Then, a few years ago, I was chatting on IM with a friend of mine. We were making plans to get together that night. When I asked her what she had been doing all day she said she had been making Shepherd's Pie. I hesitantly asked if we were having it for dinner that night. She said no, she was making it to freeze. I was so relieved.
I know that Shepherd's Pie is a favorite comfort food for a lot of people. It's even possible that I would like it if it were made by someone over the age of nine. I know there are dozens of different recipes, but the idea of it brings back memories of that horrible dinner I had more than 30 years ago.
I've been a little busy lately, and I've haven't had a chance to post the awards that I've been given. I apologize to those of you who have given them to me. I am certainly honored that you enjoy my blog enough to give me an award. I'm also a little behind in commenting and returning emails (I had a small problem with my Yahoo email. Don't worry if you've sent me a cocktail party submission, I have it).
Thank you 5th Sister , Tattoos and Teething Rings and Who Has The Thyme for the Dragon's Loyalty Award.
I know I'm supposed to pass these awards on to other bloggers, but is there anyone left that hasn't received these? I'm so behind in posting them that I really don't think so!
Please visit the wonderful blogs that awarded me if you haven't already. You're sure to make some new friends!