Category Archives: Childhood memories
And unseasonably deep and cold Illinois, too. While we’ve been visiting family this last month, it has been more like December than November.
I haven’t gotten this much cold and snow all at once since my family left Wisconsin when I was 11.
It has been a nice walk down nostalgia lane, and great fun to watch my little ones experience it. 🙂
To begin let me clear up some ambiguity in the title: this is about making small schnitzel, not about how to make schnitzel out of babies. If you’re here for the latter, I’m sorry you have to leave disappointed.
So: I discovered today why my mom and grandma always made these little bitty schnitzel barely big enough to cover a store brand hamburger bun (which happens because cold leftover schnitzel makes AMAZING sandwiches).
I discovered today instead of the last time I made schnitzel because I am stubborn, stubborn, oh so stubborn.
When I usually make schnitzel, I aim to create something that will cover at least half of a dinner plate. I cut nice thick slabs of loin or tenderloin and carefully beat it into a nice big floppy pork blanket. If I’m working with tenderloin, which is a slender muscle that doesn’t make big thick slices, I at least make the schnitzel big enough to cover a large hamburger bun with some hanging out the sides.
Last time, I broke out the tenderloin and went for the meat hammer… but we’d lost it in the move. Okay, fine. I have a decent rolling pin… oh, also lost in the move.
Wanna guess where my last resort, a large stone pestle, went?
You got it.
So that’s when I learned an alternate method of making schnitzel without pounding it outHAHAHAHA no. I am far too stubborn to learn so quickly when I’m not learning on purpose.
Guess what I did.
Go ahead. Guess.
You’re probably wrong because I BEAT THE PORK TENDERLOIN SLICES FLAT WITH MY FISTS. I made schnitzel in a savage, unreasonable, beastly way.
I have German friends. I expect they will have me assassinated in reprisal for my crimes against schnitzelmanity.
But today, today! Today I learned.
And the learning made me realize why my mom and grandmom made little bitty baby schnitzel.
There have been Germans knocking around my mother’s side of the family line for at least a century and maybe two (family history is, sadly, not my strength).
Perhaps grandma’s mom or grandma said to themselves, eh, this Old Country business with hitting the meat with a hammer forever is for the birds. If I just cut the pork thin enough, I can work smarter instead of harder or whatever that dumbass ’90s business cliche was.
Maybe grandma was the one who took laziness to its logical conclusion and stopped hitting the pork with a hammer altogether. Maybe it was mom. Maybe it was great-grandpa, who motivated them to stop hitting the pork with a hammer out of spite because he was a fanatic about hitting the pork with a hammer the proper way, dammit, and would yell at you about it like a jerk.
But someone stopped hitting the pork with a hammer and just cut thin pieces of pork off a tenderloin.
Which is what I learned to do today so I didn’t have to beat my this post is over goodbye.
This is a creation from my 4 year old son, Cuinn. Everest of Paw Patrol is flying a spaceship constructed from a stormtrooper Mr. Potatohead. Note the arm in front: that’s a laser cannon. Looks like a propulsion unit in the back with the stormtrooper mask. And the ship has eyes. Why? So it can see where it’s going, duh!
I’m surrounded by creativity and I love it.
…A live action Jetsons reboot.
I get it. Gen X is hitting middle age and we’ve got about as much money as we’ll ever have as a generation. We’ve got kids and some of us have young grandkids (not me yet).
And we like to watch cartoony stuff.
And, it seems to me, we’re practically maudlin in our nostalgia.
We’re a great market for this crap, and so are the millennials whose ears we’ve talked off about how awesome our childhood stuff was.
But still. The world doesn’t need more derivative crap, not least because 99% of it is done AWFULLY. I’d rather see something new.
We live in the middle of either a medium-large metro of close to two million people or seven mid-sized cities jammed shoulder to shoulder around the area where the James River empties into the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. It depends who you ask.
We’ve long been a family to enjoy a walk. Being temporarily carless at the moment, we’re walking more.
And walking, you’re more likely to find little oases of refreshing nature like those above.
They remind me of my childhood in rural Wisconsin, and reminiscence is good for writers. Right now I’m working on a novella, Carrying Salt To Heaven, and the current extended scene I’m working on involves a character from a bleak land being introduced to a huge, lush nature preserve.
Some of the sensory impressions of this little oasis, and my childrens’ reactions to them, and the childhood memories they awaken, are finding their way into the novella.
Get out and find stuff, however that works for you. Your art and life will be enriched for it.
[This post appeared a week before it posted here, on my Patreon page. Come say hello and see some public posts that haven’t appeared here!]
So, there’s today’s peek into my psyche. Maybe there are some clues there into why I often write about alienation and deprivation and internal turmoil. I don’t know, it’s so subtle… O.O
I’ve heard the “treehugger” sneer often enough in my life, and it makes no sense to me.
As if valuing the resources and beauty in nature is bad. As if having some housepride in our common home, Earth, and keeping it looking and functioning well is foolish.
As if simply not metaphorically pooping where we all live and eat is a terrible idea.
As if trashing things is a higher good and leaving a useless garbage pit to our grandchildrens’ grandchildren is wise.
Stop and think, sneerers. And then maybe go out and hug a tree. It feels good.
You never know, for example, when you’ll find cool superhero costumes with foam muscles for 3 bucks apiece 😁
…is to hold it open with your toe so both your hands are free. Antics and toe courtesy of my middle son, 6 year old Victor, who now often reads the bedtime stories for his little brother Cuinn.
This little trip down memory lane was brought on by me responding to a tweet…
…which led to an invitation…
…and an explanation.
There’s a little more to the story. My mother ruefully remembers the first time she helped me hunt nightcrawlers, indeed in the dark, on hands and knees, on a freshly watered lawn, resulting in fatal stains to a pair of white jeans worn in a moment of wardrobe insanity. I remember she often helped, holding the container I dropped the nightcrawlers into or holding the light, or getting down and capturing them with her own hands to pitch in on occasion. Oh, the ridiculous things moms and dads do for kids, huh?
I still remember the technique. A quick grab when the red light dimly shows the glistening body of a worm protruding from the soil. A gentle tug to stretch it out, but not too hard because nightcrawlers have little bristles on some segments to grip the soil. If you pull too hard, they’ll break in half. But if you hold them stretched out for a moment, patiently, with a little tension, you can feel them relax their little worm muscles for a split second in an attempt to get a better grip and you can slide them right out whole and plop them into a bucket to serve fish-hungry anglers. Or, if you like, you can drop them in your potted plants to aerate the soil and break down the little organic bits they eat and poop out, making the plants healthier.
You could eat them if you want, too. Worms are virtually pure protein. Might be the meat of the future, who knows? But that’s a subject for another post.
Oh, why didn’t I run a lemonade stand like a normal kid? I lived in rural Wisconsin, along a two-lane country road with a 55 mph speed limit. Getting someone to pull over at a trailer park for lemonade was WAY more of a longshot than getting someone on the way to one of the many lakes and streams in the area to pull over before getting to their fishing hole.