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A Childhood Summer Dinner


No school was the best part of summer.


A child’s paradise is life on an island with a sandy beach across a 2-lane country road.


The waves inched to shore as we ended our 3 hours of floating on inner tubes or diving off the large rock when the water was deep enough. I can still remember the smell of salty skin.


Salt water masked the pain of barnacle cuts. Blood trickled down our legs as we emerged from the ocean. Old tennis shoes were required attire to make the experience safer. Much needed necessity for the jaunt across the oiled road.


Summer dinners I enjoyed the most were nutritionist and light. Being 10, I was oblivious regarding nutrition and only cared for what tasted great.


An afternoon of fresh picked crisp lettuce leaves soaking in a bowl of cool salted water to make the unwanted bugs float to the top. “Hey, nobody wants a slug on their lettuce leaf…”


Nothing is ever as scrumptious as fresh garden vegetables.


Crispy lettuce leaves, dark green cucumbers, hot red globe radishes, succulent tomatoes, slim green bunching onions. Often there was young garden grown cooked peas, carrots, or potatoes. Even fresh boiled eggs from our chickens.


Multiple bowls on the table waiting for our selections. To chop and assemble our own salads. Miracle Whip dressing was the finishing touch of our creations. Still crave that stuff.


Loved salads, especially on a hot day.


A special delight: milk chilled in the freezer. Ice crystals had formed on the edges, requiring a spoon to help slush it around to drink.


My Dad always said a meal wasn’t a meal unless there was dessert. I learned to adopt that attitude at an early age. Leaving plenty of room for the sweet concoction that followed.


My favorite was cold blackberry crumb pudding, topped with Bird’s hot vanilla custard. Not sure of the blonde crumble ingredients, as I have never found the perfect recipe to duplicate it.


Not complicated, as Mom never indulged in fancy recipes. Flour, sugar, and whatever mystery ingredients were just pantry staples. Fresh blackberries sprinkled with sugar in the bottom of the baking dish, crumb mixture on top and baked in the oven.


My Dad grew lots of vegetables and I preferred them to meat. He gave away veggies to friends. In return, they gave us permission to pick huge blackberries that engulfed a nearby barn.


We took a picnic lunch for the outing of picking what soon became blackberry crumb pudding, blackberry pie, blackberry jam, or fresh blackberries for munching. The ritual was 2 or 3 in the bucket and 1 in my mouth until I had my fill.


Cold dinner salads on hot summer days are fond thoughts as I reminisce about a simpler time in my youth. But never forgetting the blackberry dessert, made more special by the efforts in helping it adorn our dinner table.


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