Growing up in a small town in Southern New Jersey

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


We didn't always have a freezer. We had a tiny, little section above the small GE refrigerator (which is still working, by the way) which held four trays of ice cubes and maybe some ice cream.

When I was a child, not much was really known about frozen food. Well, we knew if we put something in the freezer it would freeze, but we didn't know about freezer burn, food going bad after a month or months depending on what was put into the freezer, etc. So, when mom came up with a "plan" to get herself a "deep freeze" in an upright position, there was quite a discussion (between her and my father). She was stubborn about this and she wanted a freezer.

She found a "plan" that would GIVE you a 15 cubic foot freezer (I think that was the dimension, it was huge, even after I grew up it was huge) and all you had to do was order food from the "giver" twice a year to fill your freezer for five years. Good deal, huh? Well, I'm not so sure that the amount of money mom spent on that food was such a good buy.

We really didn't need more than overnight refrigeration back in my earlier years because we'd just run down the street to the grocery store and order whatever we needed for the next day or so. Milk and butter were delivered. Fish was delivered by a fishmonger. Produce was delivered by the produce truck. So what was left was meat and bread, basically. But mom wanted a freezer and she decided that freezing food in the summer was going to be so much better than canning.

Well, it was, but the taste was entirely different. I mean canned peas are awful, frozen peas taste almost like fresh peas. Canned green beans were never a favorite of mine, but frozen green beans were more like real green beans, so I liked them better. Corn was a piece of cake to freeze, and it was a bear to can. She found out real fast that tomatos don't freeze well.

The freezer was put in the basement and it had a lock on it. We always kept it locked. Why? I don't know. We all knew where the key was -- it was in the lock! Mom would send me down at least once a day to get something out of the freezer, whether it was some sort of veggie for dinner or a pound of meat, or butter -- she cancelled the butter order with the milkman.

I think we had better dinners after we got the freezer mainly because mom was less stressed about making a dinner and taking all that time to do it from scratch. She could get her veggies finished in 15 minutes, instead of spending one-half hour prepping the beans or the corn or whatever. And desserts? Well, that didn't change much. Instead of canned fruit, we got frozen fruit, and sometimes it hadn't thawed by the time we were to eat it.

I recall one year she decided she was going to freeze rhubarb. Now, I have to tell you no one but my father liked rhubarb. But my dear mother, she scraped those stalks and cut them and cooked them down, added the sugar, then bagged them -- yes they had special boxes and baggies back then for the happy homemaker. Mom would pull a box of rhubarb, thaw it, and serve it over stale cake. It was not yummy! And that recipe will NOT appear in Runnemede Remembered Recipes, because frankly I hated the stuff. Still do.

And then there was something that the salesman didn't tell mom. That hulking big thing had to be defrosted at least twice a year. What a mess that was!

No comments: