Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Party Foods ala Cleo

One of the family jokes around my house when I was growing up was that my Grandmother Cleo had no sense of humor. She couldn't tell a joke to save her life, and if you told her one, she picked it to pieces. But despite her lack of humor, she loved a party. And she loved the new, "fun" convenience foods of the '60's and '70s. It was at her house that I first tasted Pringles and Bugles.

When I was very young, Cleo had a job that required her to travel a lot. She sent packages of exotic food to us every so often. (What I remember most clearly were the tins of smoked oysters. I loved them so much that I literally made myself sick on them one time, and can no longer face them.) When one of those boxes arrived, we would have what we called "funny suppers"- an evening of snacking on whatever was in the box.

Later, when her job changed and she settled in the same town with us, Cleo used to babysit us quite a bit. On the weekends, we usually stayed overnight. There were a lot of us, all girls, and as she lived in a 1 bedroom apartment for some of the time, our stays had a slumber party ambiance. Cleo played to that ambiance- lot's of girly stuff. There were bottles of witch hazel to put on cotton pads to make your eyes less puffy, interestingly scented bath ingredients for luxurious bubble baths, and of course, party fare. If we requested some special food, she would go out and purchase it, but these three favorites showed up every time.

Turkey Pastrami roll-ups: (I still love this to this day!)

Take some deli-sliced turkey pastrami, spread cream cheese on one side of the slice, roll it up.

Apricot mocktails

Dilute Apricot nectar half and half with Seven-up or ginger ale. Drop in a maraschino cherry, or a little grenadine syrup. Serve over ice.

(Actually, I still use a version of this, on the rare occasions when I really want a sweet carbonated beverage, I will dilute fruit juice with seltzer water)

Bean Dip with Capers

Add some sour cream to a can of Frito-Lay bean dip, along with half a jar of drained capers. Eat with Fritos, preferably the big, wide ones..
(And we're three for three- I will eat this when I am deep in a comfort food seeking funk! It's just as good with a can of refried beans, some chili powder and a few more capers. But the Fritos are an integral part!)

By the way, Cleo was the only grandmother I knew who drove a 1968 red fastback Barracuda Fastback. It looked just like this one and I looked Way Cool tooling around town in that thing once I was old enough to drive! (Her previous car had looked like this, but I never got to drive it!)

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