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The Detective’s Daughter – A Tasteful Memory


Kim in Baltimore welcoming spring… finally!

My grandmother’s kitchen was the center of not only our home, but our family life. Every Saturday afternoon my aunties would gather with their husbands and children around our kitchen table for a coffee hour that would last well into the night. There were stories to tell, disputes to iron out, and card games to play.

My family in our kitchen long before I was born.

All that was fun, but one of the main events of the afternoon was whatever my grandmother was making for dinner. She was truly an outstanding cook who worked for McCormick’s as their lead dietitian for many years. Her meals were famous. Whether it was sour beef and dumplings or  chicken noodle soup, no one walked out of our house hungry.

My grandmother, Florence Beckhardt, being recognized for her years of service at McCormick’s.

My mom had her own specialties like beef stew, though she also served Spaghetti-O’s for dinner as well. Just seeing the red and white can brings back fond memories of sitting around the dinner table with Mom and Dad looking over the crime scene photos from his latest case. The good old days!

Thinking back to those dinners, I can nearly taste the orange sauce and the slippery o noodles. They were delicious. With the addition of Wonder Bread and Green Giant green beans,  you had yourself a good weekday evening meal. We saved fancy stuff like Manwich or Chun King for special occasions or guests.

When my children were small and I was a young mother, I wanted everything to be as it had been in my happy childhood. Though I was no slouch as a cook, I didn’t have much time for preparing big meals. I stocked up on all the staples my mom had used- San Giorgio pasta, Ragu sauce, Jiff peanut butter, and Hamburger Helper. I was ready to be a mom, or at least cook meals the way my mom had for me.

I was especially excited to recreate my favorite childhood meal… Spaghetti-O’s. I thought about this all day long, how, in years to come, my own children would have fond memories of dinners together. That night I heated the cans of pasta and green beans up as my two children waited for the special treat I’d promised them. They loved it. I, however, was underwhelmed. Could this be the same stuff I’d enjoyed as a child? Had they changed the recipe? Yuck!

That was twenty-three years ago and never again will Spaghetti-O’s pass my lips. I suppose, just like the Tooth Fairy, some things are only meant to be enjoyed by children. I’m now hesitant to recreate any more childhood dinners, though I do make doughgies for breakfast just like my grandmother did for us. I’m not even going to try to make her sour beef and dumplings. Whenever I get a yearning for that I go to Dimitri’s in Ellicott City . Their recipe taste just the way my grandmother’s did.

It’s hard to live up to a good memory, but it’s very nice when you taste something that takes you back to a special place and time. Whenever I have a  spearmint snowball, I close my eyes and can imagine I’m five-years-old, holding my grandfather’s hand as we walk home from Miss Edna’s store. Those are the memories to savor.

Dear Reader, Is there a food that you loved as a child that you would never eat now as an adult? What food brings a good memory to mind?



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