Tuesday, October 13, 2009

While The Cat's Away, The Mice Will Play

I am sure that you all know the catch phrase, "While, the cat's away, the mice will play?" For many, this probably stirs up different connotations, both positive and negative. For me, this phrase signifies my ability to have plain old fashion childhood comfort!

This month, three of our girls are out for fall break and if you are in Arkansas, then you know that it has rained or drizzled with much cooler temperatures. Unless you like the idea of mopping floors around the clock, which I don't, the kids haven't played outside much except for a little basketball or scooter riding in the driveway. Having said this, they have been totally bored, so I have spent the week making crafts, working puzzles with them, and cooking. They have done okay and enjoyed most of it except for the 500 piece jigsaw puzzle. When I bought it at the dollar store, it said 12 and up and Carson looks 12 to me, right? Note to self: she still has the attention span of a 9, going on 10-year-old. Simply put, she was bored to death with it.

So after that failed attempt, we started contemplating what we were going to have for lunch. I told them I was making Taco Soup for dinner, so we could have fold overs; short for peanut butter and jam on folded bread. Eyes roll and shoulders slump. Not that they don't like it, it is just that we have had it a few times already. Carson and Camryn chimed in that they wanted something else like the Pea and Potato Soup that Bappy makes for them. Well, I make it too, I was quick to snap back, or don't I?

Yes, you heard me correctly. I said Pea and Potato Soup. I bet you were lost as to what this had to do with a cat and rat until this point, right? You got-it! Aaron Hates, Loathes, and Despises Peas. In fact when we were dating, I told him about my Thanksgiving plans and that I couldn't wait for my Memi's field peas, snap peas and white peas, just to name a few of the dishes. Okay, this may be a deal breaker for me he said, because I don't "Do" peas. I told him that he just didn't know how to cook them properly.

Well, to make a long story short, Aaron loves southern peas and is quick to point out that those were not the peas he was referring to when that ignorant statement was made. Also, that the only peas he knew, growing up in Utah, was the green, round sweet peas. Childhood tramatization, I have no clue, but I still can't get him to eat a sweet pea to save my life and he can sniff it out a mile away! Which is a sore spot for me, because there are ton's of recipes that I grew up with that have sweet peas in them for example: soups, salads, casseroles, and well, you just name it! It might have it in there.

I have, for the most part, conceded and planned meals with substitutions or just not planned them at all. Well, pea and potato soup would fall into the "not ever, in this life" category. This is hard for me, because it was soup we had weekly growing up. It isn't elegant. You probably won't see it served in a fancy restaurant, but what you will see and hear is the memories of childhood comfort that I felt when my mom prepared it for us, and how happy it made me. For me, when I ate that soup, I knew that I was loved, that I was safe, and that my momma could make something out of nothing.

You see, this recipe was originally given to my mother-- a person, who could make something out of nothing, by her mother-- the "Queen" of somethings out of nothings. For many years, my grandmother had to work and support 5 children all on her own. Money was simply not around for ruffles and frills. She probably came up with this recipe, because she couldn't afford real cream, only had a few potatoes in her pantry, and had lots of leftover peas, because we all know that children don't always eat their vegetables. She knew that it was up to her to be inventive and make it work.

Well, out of humble beginnings, a soup tradition was born. Over the years, we have kept the recipe basically the same with only 4 original ingredients. However, I have told you before that the cooks in our family have the ability to know just what else a dish needs to make it just right. So, my mother, sisters, and I have added cheese and paprika to it. Sure we can all now afford to fancy it up by adding bacon, green onions or other ingredients to it as well, but then that would defeat the purpose. The soup would no longer hold its appeal, because it would be too changed or altered.

I can smell it in the house now as I am warming up leftovers on another cold and rainy day. It is so funny that each time I eat it, it becomes the best that I have ever had or made. Maybe that is because of all the new memories that are added to it with each making. So this week, while my cat was away and my mice were at home, this mouse kept a warm and soothing tradition alive through four generations.

I bet, when each of you who read this think about it long enough, you will realize that you too have something that you enjoy doing or making while your cat is away. All you have to do is think about it and when they leave, do it! I also just bet that there are things that you are doing in your own family right now, be it out of necessity, want to, or got to, that will become a tradition for your children and their children to come. I can almost guarantee that my Memie had no clue just how altered her family's lives would be by this humble soup!


Familia Morales said...

So are you going to tell us how to make it? I'm all up for a 4-ingredient soup.

David and Cori said...

If my cat is away, it's macaroni and cheese from a box...lol. Seriously Dave loves almost everything I make, except for Breakfast Souffle on Christmas Morning. I make a 9X13 and I am the ONLY one who likes it, but I can't imagine Christmas morning without it.

Peanut said...

you guys are funny! M-next time I make it, I will invite you over. Cori-that is so funny. Isn't it crazy what we grow up with that we have to have. Some of it, I am sure people can't stand and we prob. didn't like it as a child, but when we get older, it wouldn't be what it is without it. Hey, lets have a Cat is away party and everyone bring what there spouse hates....that they LOVE...wouldn't it be funny?