SIMPLE LIVING ...and Ham-Potato Scallop
May 26, 2010 12:23 pm
Updated: Jun. 29, 2010 7:11 pm
We jumped in the car without too much thought as to what we were bringing. My husband's mom was very ill and we had to once again make the trip to Canada quickly. Mom lives in a wonderful Mennonite Extended Care Home where up until now she has been able to keep her own apartment with minimal help. This time we knew with the seriousness of her infection, she would need more help if and when she came home.
I know many of you are in the same boat, caring for elderly parents. It's difficult to do this from far away. She was still in the hospital when we arrived so we entered the familiar "Grandma smelling" apartment and proceeded to take stalk of all that would be needed.What is it about that smell? Warm and homey, producing sweet memories of my kids playing round after round of pinochole with Grandma...she was never one to let them win simply because they were children!
I tackled the kitchen...cleaning out the fridge first. Now, you have to know my mother in law...she wrote the book on how to stretch a dollar into the next decade..everything in the fridge looked the same...all in 10 year old margerine containers or very very old tupperware, that someone no doubt gave her in the 60's. Each container was a surprise of home canned or frozen fruits, jams, apples auces and mystery liquids. Knowing that she would yelp at the sight of me throwing out her precious food and containers...I wisely made the decision to pitch the food and keep the containers.
I'm thinking of new colorful, air tight tupperware and a system of labeling to help her remember what she put inside and when to throw it out when I realized whose fridge I was in. This was mom, simple living, extremely thrifty, use it until if falls apart , eat it until it forms mold...mom.
The rest of the kitchen speaks to this person also....plastic bags that have been washed out so many times the printing is worn off....a ziploc not in sight. A pairing knife that has become a lethal needle it has been sharpened so many times. A wooden spoon, used for everything for so long that it could tell many stories of home cooked meals over the last 60 years. Everything thing is the same everywhere as the day I met her. HGTV has not had a place in her home....in fact she just recently got a tv...no cable of course. No computer, no electronic gadgets...not even an electric can opener.
How can one live so simply? And yet she has managed to do so quite well. My children will tell you of a wonderful Grandma who baked them cakes with coins in them....who hid dime store easter eggs all over the apartment...who sent inexpensive but charrished gifts, always on time for birthdays...who played snakes and ladders on the same board that my husband used as a kid....and who hand wrote letter after letter to us over the years.
I reflected on our lives back in Ohio....how much we have...how much we waste...how full our basement is of STUFF and came to realize that in our rush to come up to Canada, we took very little with us and survived very nicely for almost 3 weeks....Hmmmm....
So..Thanks Mom, for a good reminder to simplify..because in the end, it's the love they remember, not the organized containers in the fridge or the matching furniture in the house. But Mom.....I do draw the line at mayonaisse in the fridge from 2005....I'm not kidding.
Mom is back home, recovering slowly, resuming her thrifty ways....no doubt she's washing out the used plastic spoons from her hospital lunches.
In her honor....an old Mennonite recipe from Mom's beloved Canadian Prairies to share with you....
Ham-Potato Scallop-serves 8
Potatoes peeled and sliced to make about a quart
cooked ham, thinly sliced to make about 1 1/4 cups
1 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1 onion finely chopped
2 Tbsp butter
1 3/4 cups of milk not skim
*Arrange one layer of potato into a greased 2 quart casserole dish
*cover with a layer of ham
*sprinkle with some flour and 1/3 of the salt, onion and bits of butter
*repeat the layer of potato, ham, flour, and another 1/3 of the salt, onion and butter
*end with a layer of potato, more flour and the rest of the salt, onion, butter
*pour the milk over it all and cover
*Bake 350 for 30 minutes, then uncover and bake another 30 min or longer until tender.