Bacon Grease Memories

So I have been watching food network tonight and one of the guys fried up some bacon and then sauteed some veggies in a bit of the bacon grease. I insantly started salivating and thinking of cornbread cooked in bacon grease, and potatoes, and eggs.....none of which I have had in years. I was wondering why on earth I would have cravings for such things. Then I remembered.

Back when I was a kid and we were still living in Keystone and my mom didn't work and still cooked heavy country dinners every night, we had a coffe can. A coffee can that held bacon grease. Yep, everytime she made bacon she would pour that grease into a coffee can and then the grease could be used to cook other things with. We didn't have cooking spray or pam so my Mom cooked with bacon grease! Haha, no wonder I love bacon so much. The smell of bacon grease heating up in a cast iron pan, the sizzle it made when the cornbread mixture was poured into it, waiting for the cornbread to cook, then smothering it with butter while it was still piping hot was just lovely! I still like to keep a few tablespoons of it in the pan when I scramble eggs. I am glad that I remembered that coffee can full of grease, it might sound gross and we wouldn't dare cook that way anymore, especially my mom! But that little memory has opened up a whole view of my childhood that I had almost forgotten.

Before my parents got divorced Saturday was my favorite day of the week. It wasn't because we didn't have school although that was nice. Saturday was a day of possiblities. Sometimes my Dad would wake me up early and take me fishing with him. If it was cold I would get hot cocoa in his big, green thermos. If it was hot then I would get milk. But no matter what I would always get doughnuts from the bakery in Keystone. This was a REAL bakery, the kind of place where everything is homemade, the kind of place where you could smell the yeast and the workers had flour on their clothes and wore hairnets. I loved that old bakery by the railroad tracks. It is long gone as are the tracks but I can still remember how excited we would get when we piled in the car to go pick out our breakfast. On the mornings that we didn't go fishing mom always made a big breakfast. Wonderfully crisp bacon, creamy grits yellow with butter and plenty of salt and pepper, yummy scrambled eggs just for me because I didn't (still don't) like them fried, and golden brown toast with butter and jam. I loved covering my eggs with Log Cabin syrup! And yummy orange juice. Nowadays a breakfast like that would weigh me down but when I was a kid it was exactly what I needed for a long day outside!

Mom didn't mess around with us being in the house, as soon as breakfast was done we got swept out the back door with an impatient hand. She had housework to do and we weren't going to be in the way! Our backyard was a wonderland to us. Dads big garage, the greenhouse, our playhouse, the tire swing, the worm pit, and not a bit of grass! In the summer we would get out the sprinkler and water that dirt until it was mud then we would just roll in it like little piggies!! Mom would bring lunch out to us and we would sit in our little playhouse that Dad built and eat. We stayed outside until it was time for a bath. If we were too dirty, and we always were, mom simply took us down to the lake with a bar of soap and bottles of shampoo and conditioner and we would bathe in the lake. That soft, clean lake water always made our hair so soft and easy to brush! Then it was time to eat!

My dad had a huge grill he welded out of.....well, I don't really know but this sucker was massive. Steaks, burgers, hotdogs, fish, oysters, gator tail....we never knew what we would get but it was always good! I have always loved cooking and eating outside but I never really thought of why, I guess it was born in my childhood! I really miss how simple (and delicious!) life was, sometimes I wonder if I should be raising my own family in that slow-paced, mud filled, bacon grease cooking world. Most of the time I think they are missing out. Lexi has never had a mud fight, she has never had to pull a sandspur out of her foot, never bathed in a lake.....she doesn't make worm stew to force feed to icky boys, she hasn't ever dug up worms for fishing or climbed to the top of a tree. At this point I don't even know if she would try, she is so different that I was, she has been raised in a concrete world. I am glad my Dad still lives in the woods on a lake, at least she gets a taste of it once in awhile.

The best times we had were night, especially if we got to go to Aunt Janice and Uncle David's house. We made up a game with our cousins called "tarantula" . My aunts house was actually in the woods, ours was "in town" haha. Anyway, we would wait until it was pitch black with just the moon to guide us then we would head outside. One person was selected to be it (usually one of the younger kids, now that I look back on it we were not very fair!) and they would stand on the front porch of the house. The rest of us would go all the way to the road (it was a dirt road, not much traffic at night) the object was to get past the person on the porch and to the back of the house. The pump house was in the front yard as well and that would be our first recon point. From there we could see if the "tatantula" was watching us. We always made a plan to split up and which ways to go, I liked to go around the left side of the house. It was darker and a bit scarier so I was less likely to be pursued. Once we made it past the trees in the front yard we were usually spotted and it was a mad dash to the backyard with tons of shrieking and arguing about whether someone was actually tagged or not.

On cooler nights we would play "Star Wars" in the playroom. It was basically just us going wild, we turned off all the lights and got the light sabers and chased each other around yelling things like "get him Jeremy, I mean Luke Skywalker!" and "don't trip over Kevin!" Kevin was the youngest at that time, he was only 2 or so. We would tie a glow worm to him so we could see where he was crawling so we didn't crush him. It makes me laugh to remember that little glow worm moving around the room. We would trip over everything else though and had to turn on the lights every few minutes to untagle someone from a mass of toys! We would play for hours not bothering our parents once. When it was time to go home the 3 of us would pile into the back of Dad's truck (if it was cold we got a blanket) and lay down on our backs. We would try to figure out where we were based on the number of turns we had taken. On really clear nights we would make up shapes in the stars and were always amazed that the moon "followed" us all the way home It kills me that Lexi will never experience that but I would NEVER let her ride in the back of a truck, it is dangerous ! Most of the time we fell asleep on the way and my Dad would have to carry us inside one by one. Sometimes I pretended to be asleep just to feel my Dad carry me again, I 8 or 9 at this point so I didn't get carried much anymore! I wish those times could have lasted longer, it wasn't too long after that summer that my Dad moved to New Jersey, my parents divorced, and we moved to Orange Park, forever leaving my childhood and all the good times I had known behind.


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