‘Sunday-Night Supper at the Henry House’
As some of you may know from my ubiquitous FaceBook presence, I recently spent a most glorious Family Fall Weekend with my brother Roger and his lovely wife Nobody-Doesn’t-Like-Jenn. It was my favorite kind of weekend because, basically, we really didn’t do much. Looked at slides of my nephew’s wedding. Hung out on the Porch of Ill Repute with glasses of wine. Played with the across-the-street neighbor’s baby. (Hi, Olivia! Hi, Olivia’s Mom Amanda!)
Oh, and being Henrys, we also ate a lot of food. Like Roger’s chili, which he makes in large vats then freezes into chili-sicles for emergency guests-are-here use. (He also bestows these as gifts to neighbors. Move near him, if you can.) Roger also continues to make the Peterson Christmas-Eve Oyster Stew, but I’ll have to wait to eat it. And you’ll have to wait to hear about it.
You do get to hear about Dad Eggs, though. Dad Eggs is a dish my Dad (in photo above) concocted to Give Mom a Break on Sunday Nights. See, Sundays were the days we went to (Lutheran) Church, then stuck around after the service to eat pastries and watch Pastor Kahre smoke, then went home to the main meal of the day, usually a large roast of some kind. (Remind me to tell you about ‘heart meat’; trust me, it’s in no way similar to ‘eye of round’).
So, since Mom had gone to a lot of trouble (gravy! remember gravy?), and we were all still kind of full when suppertime rolled around, Dad would go into his act. Dad had been a short-order cook to help pay his college bills, so he knew his way around a stove. At least he knew his way around eggs, which is what he cooked a lot of Back in the Day.
He would (usually) put on an apron. (Note ‘no apron’ state in the accompanying photo; there is a telltale bacon-grease spot on his shirt.) Then he would (always) dig into the pot of bacon grease that lived on the stove. You can see it in the picture, too. It’s the corn-themed jar in the background behind Dad’s ‘bacon-stirring’ hand. The two corn-themed cylinders near his head were salt-and-pepper shakers. I have a sneaking suspicion that the jar was originally intended for sugar. But, never mind; it always held bacon grease at my house.
So, he’d prep the frying pan with the bacon grease, then fry up some eggs. He would intentionally spear the yolks while they were cooking, so that they wouldn’t ‘squirt’ when hidden in a pile of goodies and bitten into. Speaking of the pile of goodies, here they are. Photo courtesy Roger, who, I am happy to say, has kept the flame under Dad Eggs alive lo these many years:
All these delicious things were piled onto toast, which was made from regular white bread. White bread with all its original gluten intact and that came in extra-long loaves Mom would buy directly from the Bunny Bread Factory Store. (A family of seven can eat its way through a lot of Bunny Bread, especially when the loaf held center stage at every meal.)
Before the fixings were piled on, though, the toast was slathered with mayonnaise. Actually, I take that back; I think it was Miracle Whip. Yes, definitely Miracle Whip. Those so inclined also added ketchup. Perhaps it sounds bizarre, this combination of eggs-bacon-tomatoes-onions-pickle-lettuce-peppers-Kraft-Singles-Cheese-and-whatever-else-we-had-in-the-fridge. But let me tell you, I’m getting hungry just thinking about those sandwiches. And I just had lunch.
We Henrys would eat this ‘light’ supper in the kitchen, then repair to the dining-room table to do our homework. The Parents (and kids too young for homework) watched television. The living room was just a few feet away, so homework was invariably tackled to the accompaniment of the Wonderful World of Disney and/or Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom*. To this day, I am overcome by waves of Proustian reverie when I hear or see or even read the names of these shows. Or sit at a dining room table with some homework, which (almost) never happens.
*M of O’s Wild Kingdom was also an inspiration for my Ad Career. No one mastered the product segue quite like Marlin Perkins: ‘Like the lioness watches out for her cubs, so Mutual of Omaha watches out for your family’.
How about you? I bet you have some Sunday-Night rituals lurking about in your memory. Unless they’re extremely embarrassing, feel free to share them in the comments.
Oh, and if you’d like to take another little trip down Henry Memory Lane, visit (or revisit) these posts from the past: ‘That’s my Bob’ or ‘Small towns, Big City’. Or click on the ‘Growing up Lutheran’ link in the sidebar that opens when you hit the ‘X’ in the top left of the homepage.
Thank you for reading. Next up, I’m thinking of telling a nice sort-of-spooky Halloween story involving my brother (Roger again) and a big burlap bag.
New York City. October 2014