The above, Market Woman with Vegetable Stall, was painted in oil on wood, 11 x 10 cm, by Pieter Aertsen in 1567. It is in the Staaliche Museen, Berlin, Germany and was found on the web site, Web Gallery of Art, at that was created by Emil Kren and Daniel Marx.

"Patty’s Adventures with Food" is about food, recipes, memories and people that make up the world around us. The question that is used for the header of this blog is an on going question that throughout the world is asked by someone of someone. Hope you enjoy the recipes, memories and tidbits and will send me your comments.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Memories Are Good...

The good thing about being old are the memories. Some are good, some bad and some mixed. These memories make you laugh, cry and wonder why.

During the late sixties, I was a young, feisty, red-hair girl who was hired as secretary of the English department at a community college being built in downtown Cleveland, Ohio. It was scary because I only had a high school diploma, now, I would be working with those who had bachelor of arts degrees, master degrees and even, doctorate degrees.

People warned me about working in downtown Cleveland. They told me to be careful because it was a time of riots, war, assassinations, freedom, anything and everything because as the song said, "The times were changing."

As an employee of the community college, I received six free college credits and since I worked in the English department it was a given what my first class would be.

Classes were held throughout the downtown in office buildings, empty warehouses and factories. My English class was in a run-down factory building, next to an ancient cemetery and four blocks from where I worked. If I had taken the advice of Dr. Fredman, my boss, I would have froze to death walking those four blocks. Instead, I chose to walk through the wide-open cafeteria, past the angry young black men who stared at me and out the huge double steel doors of the old office building.

I went down the alley and through the parking lot where a young black man was always leaning against one of the parked cars. He watched me jaywalk across the street, run around the corner of the Salvation Army, passed the cemetery and breathlessly, run down the street to where the tall, thin, black skin man stood holding the door for me.

Smiling, I said, "Late again, huh, Mr. Kilgore?"

Maybe, it was ignorance, maybe it was lack of worldly wisdom or maybe it was carelessness, I don’t know but during that first semester I was constantly told that all kinds of bad things would happen to me. The warnings got worst at Christmas time after the young black radicals hung Santa Claus in effigy and in the middle of the cafeteria. I was warned about the radicals and told that if it wasn't them that got me, then, it would be the black parking lot attendant and his friends. The only one I was not warned about was Mr. Kilgore.

That first semester wasn't easy but at long last the English class came to an end. I dreaded the final test. I didn’t want to fail. My nervousness must have shown as I walked through the cafeteria because as I pushed against the back door on that final evening, I heard a unison of voices say, "Good luck."

I stepped into the alley and looked back at the smiling, young, black faces. Half-hearted I smiled back as I went down the alley.

I started through the parking lot when all of a sudden there was the attendant blocking my way. I stopped and watched his hand stretch out toward me. For a second, a shadow of doubt crossed my mind, then, I heard, "Here, I got this for you. It’s a lucky rabbit foot."

A grin spread across his face as he placed a bright green rabbit foot in my hand. I laughed out loud as he said, "It’s going to be lucky for you even if it wasn’t lucky for the rabbit."

Our laughter mixed together and hung in the air. I waved back at him as I jaywalked across the street, heading to class knowing that Mr Kilgore stood with the door opened, waiting.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

There Are Those Who Care

In the very first post of this blog, I told you I had never gone to bed hungry.But what I did not
tell you was that on the day I was born in Southwest Virginia, upon a hill, in a place that is
hardly there now, my mother only had one cold biscuit with pear butter to eat. How do I
know because she told me so.

It is in her memory I present this video that was produced by Anne Lewis and The Appalshop
of Whitesburg, Kentucky. It is also in Mom’s memory I repeat a saying of hers, "They won’t be
happy until we are all under their heel." (You can read between the lines as to who she is
referring to.)

Change takes time but change will come if we all stand together! Nothing happens

In 1983, Senator Edward M. Kennedy traveled to the eastern Kentucky Counties of Letcher
and Floyd during a survey on hunger in America. He was accompanied by fellow Democrat
Carl D. Perkins, a member of the U.S. Representatives from Kentucky’s 7thCongressional
District who had built a legacy of support for the underprivileged. This hearing at
Neon, Kentucky took place on November 23, 1983 and was documented by filmmaker,
Anne Lewis. To learn more go to

I have asked for permission to use this video off You Tube but so far I have not
got an answer.  So, if you want to see history in the making go to You Tube and
search for Kennedy, Neon, Kentucky and see what comes up.  Thanks.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


The "Big Box Stores" like Meijer, WalMart, and Krogers weren’t around in 1940. There
were grocery stores like Liberals, Gershaw and maybe, there were a few others that I do not remember. But most of the stores were mom and pop stores. Stores like Sigs that sat on the corners and in the midst of the neighborhoods. Stores that today you might want to call a convenience store. But what an injustice it would be to call these stores a convenience store.

These stores were lifelines for their neighbors. Most of them were all the things a neighborhood needed, a grocery store, a place that had a phone, had a stamp, and more times than not, a grocer who loaned money to people to buy food, with an interest rate of nil.

The corner store I remembered was called, Kellner’s. A couple that lived above the store owned it. As I remember today they were tall people. Of course, I was only eight. I considered anyone above my eyeballs to be tall but these people were way passed my eyeballs. They were tall.

If they had children they hid them because I never saw them or played with them. She wore her hair tied up in a braid and spoke with an accent that sometimes I didn’t understand. The man, who I never saw out from behind the meat counter, never spoke except to ask, "How much?"

The store was a two-story building the width of a double bed alongside a twin. You had
to walk up three steps, pull on the screen door and in the winter time, turn the knob and push the wooden door open into the store. The smells assailed you, like the fist of a fighter. First, there was the smell of vinegar so strong it brought tears to your eyes. It had to be coming from the brine that held the big, fat, green, Dill Pickles. Or the Sauerkraut that was stored in the white ceramic jars with a blue ring around them. Then there were tangles of strange smells, some from Cheese, I couldn’t name, some from meat I had never eaten and some from food I hoped I would never have to eat.

On the right hand side as you came in the door stood a glass case with the bottom two shelves filled with penny candy. What the upper shelves held I don’t know because my eyes never got up that far. It was strange Candy from strange places like Germany, Poland, France and other strange places far, far away from (Old) North Dayton. The ones wrapped in blue and gold were chocolate filled with a grainy caramel that tasted of nuts. Oh, they were good but my favorite was wrapped in bright red and white shiny paper. It was in the shape of a square and it was pure candy that looked white but tasted like
chocolate. Oh, my, it was almost as good as a Sucker on a stick.

On the left hand side was a wire rack that held packaged bread, like Wonder Bread. The top shelf of the rack always held the Homemade Bread that was always the color of coal. In back of this rack and in back of the glass cases were shelves that held canned vegetables and fruits. I’m sure there were other things but what they were, I don’t know.

The meat counter, running almost wall-to-wall, faced the front door and guarded the steps leading to the upstairs. Between the meat counter and the bread rack was a space just large enough for someone to stand and lean into the wall to use the phone.

This phone hanging on the wall was ebony black and shone in the half-light of the store. It was a beacon of help, love, laughter and survival. A phone where you put money in the slot, dial a number, then listen, then talked and all the time knowing Mr. Kellner stood listening…but if you did not have the money for the slot, Mr. Kellner did.

It was a store of necessity, not convenience.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner

I have said before that my mother worked in a small rubber factory from 3p.m., until 11 p.m., five nights a week. I don’t remember when she got home but it was way after my brother, sister and I had gone to bed. I do remember that when I got up to go to school the next morning, Mom was already up. She would be standing at the stove cooking Oatmeal for me.
These oats were not the instant kind. They did not have freeze-dried peaches, strawberries or brown sugar mixed in with the oats. The round Quaker Oats box held only one kind of oats and that was the "old fashion" kind. Ugh, I didn’t like oatmeal. It was slimy and looked like glue sticking to the small enamel pan in which Mom cooked the oats.

Sometimes, I ate it with brown sugar, cinnamon and a drop or two of milk. Other times I ate it plain with a drop or two of canned Wilson evaporated milk. Double ugh! But Mom cooked it and I ate it.

The best part of Mom having to work the second shift was that she would be home at noon when I came from school for lunch. In 1940, grade schools didn’t have free lunches for students. Most of the students who attended Allen School on Alaska Street in (Old) North Dayton went home for lunch.

The day I liked best was when Mom would be washing clothes down in the basement. She had an old cook stove down there and she would cook a pot of Soup Beans while she washed our clothes. They were usually pinto beans or white beans with a piece of ham or even a ham hock for favoring. By the time I got home at lunch time the beans were ready to eat.

For lunch Mom fixed me a small bowl of beans with a piece of bread and maybe, a glass of milk. And for supper Buddy or my sister heated up the bean soup and we had the beans and the Corn Bread that Mom had made before she went to work. She made the corn bread in an old iron skillet and was it good. She didn’t use sugar or put an egg in the mixture and she always made it with white corn meal. I never did learn how to make it but my sister did. To this day she still makes it in the same iron skillet that Mom did.

That was a day when I loved to eat even if the beans did make me let "bumps." Oh, how my mother would laugh when I called letting gas making bumps.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Three Wasn't Company, It Was A Family

I grew up in a single parent household since my father died when I was three. It was 1940, a time when my Mom had no car and walked for miles to get to work but glad
to have the work. Going to work at 3 p.m. was bad enough when she had to brave
the rain or the snow. But it was the coming home at 11:00 p.m. that must have been
the worst.

Of course, now, that I can’t asked her, I wonder what she thought about when she walked up those empty, dark streets, through a park toward home. I wonder if she was afraid or if she talked to herself, maybe, even sung out loud, since there wasn’t anyone around. But no, I don’t believe so. She probably hurried as fast as her tired legs could and was thankful when she reached the unlocked front door of our house.

This was a time when my 16 year-old brother, who was the oldest, cooked supper for my sister and I. There was always something to eat. But I liked it best when Mom could afford to buy pork chops. There was always three. They were pink, with fat running around the sides and with a bone. They were never thick. Yet, they were never skinny. They always seemed to be just right. The bone was always good when you chewed on it after the meat was gone.

Buddy would coat them in flour, shake some salt and pepper over them and carefully, brown them on both sides. Never did he burn them. There were three of us for supper, my brother, sister and I. But the first pork chop out of the pan was always placed on a plate and put inside the oven for Mom to eat when she got home. The other two chops were shared between the three of us.

Buddy always made gravy. He would scrape the brown flour drippings from the bottom of the iron pan, mixing them with the grease until he thought it was just right. If we did not have milk or canned Wilson evaporated milk, there was always water. The gravy was good poured over "white" bread and maybe, if he felt like it, and if Mom had them, he would peel two white potatoes and mash them. I hated it when he opened a can of spinach and heated it up. But it wasn’t too bad if Mom had some vinegar to put in it.

Like I have said before, I can’t ever remember going to bed hungry.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Hot July Afternoon...

It felt good on this hot July day, sitting eating strange food, listening to strange music and hearing strange words fill the air. It felt good. The food, the polka music and a feeling of security surrounded me. This feeling, although I did not know it at the time, stayed with me, weaving its way into the growing fabric of my childhood and my life.

The friends I went to school with were as American as I was, yet, we were all a family of immigrants. My Mom was third or maybe fourth generation Irish with a mixture of Scotch thrown in while my friends families were mainly Eastern European. Their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents came from places like Poland, Hungry, Lithuania and Germany. We all spoke English, some with a southern twang and some with an European accent but we still were Americans.

It was not strange to be invited to eat with school friends and their family. Their food might have a different name then what my mother called it but it was really all the same.
Like when I would be playing at someone’s house in the Kossuth Colony at supper time. Instead of sending me home, my friend’s mother, always set a place for me.

The best time was when her mom fried Blinkies and served them with applesauce. The crunchy taste of the crispy, lacy potatoes cakes with the Sweet Applesauce was enough to make anyone say, "Thank you for letting me stay."

My mom made Potato Cakes or Patty Cakes and where my friend’s mom would grate raw potatoes, my mom used leftover mashed potatoes that had a sprinkle of onions mixed in with them.

There wasn’t any applesauce but once in a while she fried up the last two or three apples in butter and brown sugar and we had them. Oh, boy, they were good. Maybe, even better. But really, it was the same recipe one from Poland and another from the mountains of Appalachia.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Faces of Yesterday

The cookhouse was set apart from the shelter house at picnic grounds.  The fourth Saturday in July was hot before noon and would be hotter after noon.  For a six-year-old girl the threshold to the cookhouse was the best place to be when there was going to be an all day and half the night, picnic.

The women who had worked all week alongside my Mom in the small rubber shop over in North Dayton (now called Old North Dayton!) allowed me to sit on the threshold where I could smell the aromas of their cooking. 

Mom wasn't in the kitchen because she didn't know how to make Cabbage Rolls, Hungarian Goulash or Pierogis.  The women, most of who were second generation Europeans, felt sorry for me because I was so very little and my Mom was the "poor widow woman" from Appalachia.  It was not long before one of the women pushed a plate filled with a cabbage leaf, hamburger, rice and tomatoes with a hunk of black bread at me and said, "Here, eat this while you watch them set up the polka band. Eat!"