- Elizabeth Cochran
A casserole that raised me
When I think of my childhood, I think of strawberry poptarts. One for me and one for my brother. I think of super fast popcorn, that would leave my brother in amazement every movie night. I think of a porch swing which when we all sat on it, it would make a funny noise. I think of attempted night walks in the summers, left with huge mosquito bites. I think of bike rides with friends naming hills after our initials. I think of tea time in my grandma's sunroom with burnt cheese toasties and a side of strawberries with powdered sugar. I think of a small town that was where I became grown. In my teens, I grew up living a very American life. Think tv dinners, Doritos, Taco bell, Wendy's burgers, fries, and shakes. Think McDonald's happy meals and a pink I-pod nano. I had a very eccentric style, wearing a blue sparkly converse, knee high colorful socks, a jean skirt, crocheted poncho, and butterfly clips in my hair to top it off. I went to school with my rainbow backpack filled with Lisa Frank stationary and a lunch box in hand. Like most lunch boxes, mine consisted of a ham, cheese, mayonnaise sandwich, carrots with peanut butter, pretzels, and an apple that never got ate. I remember adding the pretzels to my now soggy mid day sandwich, thinking I was a genius. I remember watching That's so Raven, Nickelodeon, Disney movies with the celebrities drawing the Disney logo. I remember I had a curiosity so big, that I questioned everything, which my teacher's were not so found of. I grew up in rural America though, so unlike the big shot city people, we had less of what you are thinking America is. We had fields and fields of corn. Sometimes it was wheat, or soybeans, but mostly it was corn. We had to drive 20 minutes to get fast food and it was only McDonalds, Taco Bell, KFC, Dairy Queen, Pizza Hut, and Wendy's. The actual normal thing that we ate in the countryside was casseroles. We would make anything into a casserole. My grandma's favorite casserole was her broccoli, cheese, and rice casserole. Other delicious small-town casseroles you could find were cornbread macaroni casserole, hamburger helper tater tot casserole, potato casserole, chicken enchilada casserole and so many more. The key to make a good casserole would be a creamy filling, vegetables, meat, and bake it all in one dish. This reminds me, my grandmother was one that liked to make things fresh to the best that she could. She would make fresh hot cocoa, her own chicken salad, and always fresh baked desserts. My grandmother had her own garden, living out in the countryside and during the spring and summer, was able to grow everything on her own. The summers were hot, hot like southeast Asia hot. And the winter's were cold, like freeze your ass of kind of cold.
In the winters it would snow so much there would be feet and feet of snow, so tall that it would create mini mountains in the school yard. They would plow all of the snow to the outside of the playground, but the playground was no longer interesting as trekking and mountain climbing was in store. It was essential to be covered up for the trek, seriously a coat, snow boots, snow pants, hat, glove, and a scarf, but I had the best goodwill find ever. A pink ski mask, that allowed me to withstand the treacherous trek through the snowy terrain. I remember writing and doodling in my bedroom stories such as this in my purple fuzzy journal, on my blue leopard print bed, next to my hermit crabs, a purple canopy, and fuzzy carpets and many pillows filling my room. In one corner it was for reading, another for art, and another corner just for gazing out the window. I would peer out this window in all seasons of life. Drip, drip as the rain would pour. The thunderstorm season was upon us, crash boom as my brother and I collided into one another in the bump of the night. When a storm would come we would camp in one of our bedroom's until the storm passed. We would tell funny stories to each other and bring our flashlights. The good thing about being in the countryside, was the stars and fireflies. The fireflies came out during those summer nights, glistening all through the fields. I can picture my brother and I running through fields, picking flowers, pouncing like cats, and cartwheeling through to find the hidden beams of light from the fireflies. Sometimes, I felt as though I could fly, I could soar if I just imagine it hard enough.
In the garden at my grandmums I remember two trees. The two trees came together as if they were this magical portal. I would bring my blanket, books, and journal, and would gaze through it seeing birds, butterflies, and beneath me little ants. When I gazed through these trees, it was as if I could escape into another realm of bliss and peace. I loved to sit under these two trees just basking in the sun, flowing in the wind, and as free as a bird. When I remember this little town that shaped who I am, I think of corn fields, prairie grass, barns, and four way stops. I think of the small town ice-cream parlor, called Scoops, Casey's general store, and casseroles. When I think of home, I don't think of buildings or shoppes, or events, or holidays, or a saying.. I merely think of the smells of a fresh baked casserole fresh out of the oven. Ding goes the oven. Now, lets dig in. If you like my storytelling, then please support me so I can keep my website up and running and know that you like my content. Buy me a coffee. Thank you for being here. xx Liz