Before the scales fell from my eyes my big sister would use me as a test subject for her early cooking experiments. In the summers before I started first grade Janie would order me to sit at an imaginary table and eat what Janie imagined to be food. The table was actually the sun-baked Oklahoma dirt and the food was pies she mixed up using that same dirt, water from a garden hose and bird eggs she stole from furious sparrows. Actually the mud pies tasted about as good as some of our neighbor lady’s homemade lye soap Janie also told me was fudge.
As I matriculated to grade school Janie was involved in Home Economics in high school. Now her cooking was for credit and as she was always our parents’ favorite I and our other two brothers were expected to test her culinary concoctions and rave about them. This was hard to do when most of what she tried to feed me got slipped to the dog under the table. I particularly remember being force fed something Janie called orangey coated biscuits. The dog had a problem for three days.
Now before you conclude I blame my sister for my addiction to packaged foods let me say Janie somehow managed to make herself into a fine gourmet cook – after she left home! Her erstwhile mud pies are now delicious brownies and her ghastly orange biscuits are now wonderful home baked breads. Of course, since I only get her current creations as Christmas gifts, she has quite a bit more to atone for.
This Christmas Janie sent Peg and me an assortment of Grandma’s sour cream fudge, Mom’s peanut brittle and Janie’s own original chocolate chip cookies. She had carefully packaged them and sent them to us via FedEx. We could tell Janie had filled the offerings with labor and love. Unfortunately, the FedEx driver went beyond the call of duty when he delivered the box to our rural home. He pushed it through the pet door of our garage in an effort to protect it from the elements and varmints.
When I got home from work I pushed the button to raise the garage door that also contains the pet door. I was looking straight ahead when I felt the left front tire roll over an object on the garage floor. Naturally I backed up and ran over it again. The contents of the box I ran over twice reminded me of those happy days of childhood. However, the mashed up goodies tasted a great deal better than the scrambled sparrow eggs. Janie need never know!
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