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Cooking Your Way to a Man's Heart


Ladies, if Cupid has given you the shaft and hearts and flowers elude you, let me share a tip that snagged me a first-rate husband.
 
I don't mean to imply that I had the answer in holy writ from the beginning. In fact, I stumbled upon the formula while answer the age-old query, "What's for supper?"

When I met Mr. Snodgrass, he concealed a vast network of secrets. His mother was a victim of 1950s cookery, which called for regular servings of industrial-strength mashed potatoes out of a box, olive-drab canned peas, reconstituted powdered milk, and dispirited fish sticks.

She further stunted her eldest's taste buds by adding slippery, foul-tasting vitamin drops to his morning Tang.

The Snodgrass household, living far north in Yankeeland's bosom, ate the stuff women's magazines used to thrive on-orange Jello dotted with carrot shavings and brown-and-serve rolls from a cellophane package.

These Ozzie-and-Harriet menus were remarkably similar across the land, but they failed to nurture young Hugh Edwin.

Beset by mornings of grayish-beige oatmeal and mushy Cream of Wheat, dull jelly sandwiches and celery sticks from a brown paper lunch bag, and 6 p. m. spreads of salmon cakes, chuck wagon steaks, or tuna casserole, the poor man barely limped into adulthood.

Years of cooking for himself produced typical bachelor fare-salads, T-bones, and occasional stir-fry. Real cooking, however, remained the great unknown.
 
Giving little thought to the daily fare of his growing-up years, I accidentally tapped into his cache of longings with the aid of frying pan, cube steak, and flour.

It has taken years, but I have finally pieced together the details of this momentous evening and their relation to the poignant tale of Hugh's childhood cuisine.

On the eve of his first Southern meal, I floured and browned cubed steak, a sight that failed to pique his interest.

Then I worked up pan crumbs with milk, stirred vigorously, and returned meat pieces to simmer into fork-tender chunklets.

Served over rice with oil-and-vinegar cole slaw, the entree skewered him as fimrly to the atlar as Cupid's arrow to a 10-pound Whitman's Sampler.

After our first shared meal of country-style steak and gravy, the title of Mrs. Snodgrass was in the bag.

The dear soul was starved for genteel Southern fare, which I learned to cook the same way most Dixie belles are taught-from watching mom.

Suppers of pot roast and pork chop surprise (one of my specialties) were his undoing.

In a matter of months, no other contender stood a chance.

Now, when I let work overtax my cooking time, I get subtle hints about brown gravy, which fills out husbandly fantasies more passionately than Madonna clad in bustier.

To quell complaints to the management, I turn to the stove and work up the pan drippings.

This sermon ends with a short homily. If you want to entice a likely candidate to the jewelry store, stop off at the meat counter, then master the art of brown gravy. (Recipe on request.)

Charlotte Observer
"Catawba Valley Neighbors,"
January 10, 1993

 

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Mary Ellen Snodgrass Tel/Fax: (828) 324-0155