Awhile back my grandaughter asked me to make her pickled eggs with beets. As I researched the recipe it took me back.. about 30 +years, to Williamsport, PA. I moved to there when I was pregnant with my oldest daughter. I arrived in a snowstorm right before Christmas in 1984. Newly discharged from the USMC and beginning a new chapter. Little did I know it would be an introduction to new culinary delights, beginning with Pickled Eggs. I had never seen a pickled egg ( except the nasty ones floating in a jar at the local watering hole) and certainly never ate one. So, when they appeared in the big bowl at one of the first meals I ate in Pennsylvania, I vehemently said “No thank you, purple eggs are unnatural” ( except dyed ones but that’s a different column) . But they kept reappearing.. at cookouts, family meals.. just taunting me.. poking and provoking me to try one. I stood fast.. and kept refusing.. like a good 10 year old. I didn’t actually stick my tongue out, but I made a face. And then one day, it was just me and the egg.. and I decided to try one.. it was not as expected.. It was delicious, still somewhat odd but delicious. I didn’t even know I liked beets. but the combination of the slightly sweet beets and the juice working it’s way into the outer rim of the egg is nothing short of perfection. ( in the beet and egg world) . I became a beetliever on that day.
It was just the beginning of my culinary expansion. Think like Lewis & Clark only food. I embarked on ham loaf next.. a meatloafy shaped ham substance, uncertain of the origin ..perhaps chopped ham steak, glazed with a reddish delight that is sweetly succulent. followed by Sticky buns, discovered at Country Cupboard in nearby Harrisburg, (They never made it home.. I ate them in the car) the cinnamonish roll coated in dark sweet syrup.. and then came the oddly interesting scrapple. Scrapple was served with breakfast, it resembled spam and looked (according to my oldest daughter) like dryer lint.
I worked for an overhead door factory in those days as a welder ( another day) and I asked my co-worker, an old farmer named Jimmy who used to sit on a stack of Styrofoam at break time and stick a knife into the stack and slowly pull it out to produce that bone chilling noise that Styrofoam makes and sends me up the wall… what is in scrapple. His deadpan response “pig parts” I had heard enough. I did not want to know what parts specifically, it might ruin my enjoyment. I adored scrapple, fried in the pan and eaten with eggs usually, think a northern version of grits. Slightly salty and lumpy there is nothing like scrapple, it’s the cornmeal that makes it look like dryer lint. I hope.
Then there was shoofly cake, a molasses dream. Or raisin filled cookies, sweet shortbread cookies filled with an amazing raisin filling and about as big as your fist. Or shrimp and shells or pizza pasta salad ( a secret recipe my daughter heisted from her Gram) the food was endless.
I had never tasted so many delicious meals in my life.
Now if you will excuse me, I need something to eat.
Until Next time,