A Memoir to the 90’s

This day and age, the food industry bombards us with so many choices to make. The choices are each strongly encouraged as the next best thing to save your life or make you live longer. We are supposed to eat 5 servings of different fruits and veggies a day, 30 different types of produce a week, drink a gallon of water a day, eat nothing processed unless it has all the “correct” labels, sugar is the devil, yet natural sugar like honey or maple syrup is ok, eat eggs, don’t eat eggs, everything must be organic, grass fed, non gmo, free range, cage free, never warmed past a certain temp, all natural, take supplements, drink this, etc. etc. The list goes on forever! So, when you get overwhelmed, bamboozled, and downtrodden about the marketing in the 2020s may I gently remind you about growing up in the 90s…buckle up my friends and take a step back in time for a little perspective…

If you are in your mid 30s and early 40s you may remember having family dinners, breakfasts, and lunch foods accordingly. Let me remind you that Sarah and I grew up in drastically different parts of the US but this topic of conversation has brought so many giggles. 

For starters, does chicken tetrazzini ring a bell? Sarah and I both agreed that was a staple. It was an easy dinner night casserole with about 4-5 ingredients; noodles, shredded chicken, cream of mushroom soup, and cheese! Voila! This dish was a regular rotation and also went to anyone who needed a meal. To be honest I haven’t thought about it in a long time and it kind of makes my mouth water thinking about the salty, cheesy, goodness. My mom would also have homemade sourdough bread on occasion which we would slather in Country crock! IKYK! I vividly remember eating Country Crock on multiple things: cinnamon toast (butter, cinnamon and sugar on bread toasted), grilled cheese, rolls, pancakes, biscuits, etc. It was easy to spread and came in a giant bucket. Best of both worlds! Real butter was mainly used for baking. I do remember one friend whose mom only used real butter and had it out on her counter in a butter dish. I thought that was weird when I was young growing up. Jokes on me. 

Another dinner oddity my mom created was a fruit salad. 5 of 7 days a week we had chopped apples, Craisins, and mandarin oranges coated in yogurt (typically Activia). I loved it! I mean, you may scrunch your nose, but I still dip apples in yogurt to this day. When you grow up with something, I guess you either love it or hate it. I admit that I do not make this fruit salad and never have, but I see why my mom did it that way because we all ate a good serving of fruit. I will say my mom’s fruit salad definitely trumps the Jell-O fruit molds or the Cool Whip fruit salads 🤣 

Breakfast was always a staple in our household. The most important meal of the day. As a small child, I vividly remember eating Cream of Wheat often. Call me weird, but I loved it cold. I would ride in the car to take my brothers to school, come home and watch Sesame Street eating my cold Cream of Wheat. My memory is blank as to what breakfasts consisted of through my elementary years, but as I got into middle school I remember eating cereal often. Unless we had a big test then we had English muffin with egg or oatmeal. But the cereal choices were as follows; Always Honey Nut Cheerios and Raisin Bran (which my dad adds a spoonful of sugar to). We would vary between Life, Cookie Crisp, Cocoa Puffs, and Peanut Butter Captain Crunch because you know, it had peanut butter which was good for you. Middle school years also brought about toaster strudels. The icing was coveted and there was never enough to go around if you ask my opinion. 

My dad was the king of Saturday pancakes or a big breakfast of scrambled eggs, bacon, and cheese grits! I haven’t had grits in about 20 years. Does anyone cook grits anymore? It’s just a grain which is probably not bad but for some reason it never crosses my mind. Grits were always savory with cheese. Never sweet. 

Peanut butter was always JIF. Not Peter Pan. Never Peter Pan 😂 I will say I have switched to just plain ole peanuts and salt either from Kroger or Costco. But back in the day I don’t think that even existed. Peanut butter was king in our house. It was an easy source of protein which solved everyone’s problems. Peanut butter on a saltine or Ritz, apple, celery, or the best was a Nilla Wafer. 

My fondest memory is taking road trips and my mom packing G.O.R.P. Aka good ole raisins and peanuts. We would have a whole canister of peanuts, raisins, other nuts, chocolate chips and M&M’s. Any takers? My dad would eat it by the handfuls as he would drive and I remember picking out the chocolate and cashews. 

Cokes were not allowed in our house unless you were sick. Then we got served Sprite or Ginger Ale. If I see Sprite or Ginger Ale my memory is of being sick. Our drink of choice was Kool-Aid! We had this 2 quart red Tupperware pitcher with a white top just for Kool-Aid. I would go with my mom to the store and she would let me pick out the Kool-Aid packets. I think they were something like 10 for a dollar. I would get one of each flavor. I knew how to make Kool-Aid all by myself probably around age 7 or 8. That was the kid drink and my dad always had sweet tea. I remember going to Pizza Hut on occasion for a family outing and we were allowed to get a fountain drink. We also frequented Taco Bell after youth group on Sunday night in which we could get a fountain drink. I know this is not an appropriate term for this day and age, but do you remember making a suicide drink? For those of you who don’t know, a suicide drink is a fountain drink that consists of all the flavors at the drink machine. I can only giggle about it now. 

The last memory I will mention is that the microwave was popular in the early 90s for cooking. I haven’t done too much research on the microwave, but I would imagine it was gaining popularity for the quick cooking. This is a strong memory for spaghetti night. My mom would cook the ground beef in the microwave. She had and still has a yellow Tupperware strainer that she would put a bowl underneath. Cook the beef a couple of minutes at a time and then chop it up with a spatula. Honestly, it was quick and it got rid of all the grease in the bowl under. Super smart! Once it was done she was ready to dump the meat into the homemade sauce simmering on the stove while the noodles cooked. We all know how we need an easy button and I would say this was her method of an easy button. 

The list goes on with all kinds of casseroles. Just say the word Cream of…and you have a meal in the making. Rotel dip with Velveeta cheese was popular, beef stroganoff, Old El Paso…what are your memories? 

So just a simple reminder to you mama that on a day you simply didn’t make the perfect meal happen or have the funds to buy the most natural organic ingredients, or high end brand names, know that carving out time and preparing food for your family and sitting and eating together are what matter most in this life. I can honestly say that dinner with my family is such a sweet memory and it’s all because of my mother’s hard work to make it happen. Yes, we can all do our best to make our bodies healthy and fuel our bodies accordingly, which we think is very important, but remember the Lord numbers our days.  Ultimately it’s all about perspective. My grandmother was born in 1920s and is still living. One thing I will always remember her saying is whatever she was eating at the time she said it was “the best ____ she had ever had.” She would also begin each meal with saying a version of Psalm 100:  

Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth!

    Serve the Lord with gladness!
    Come into his presence with singing!

Know that the Lord, he is God!
    It is he who made us, and we are his;[a]
    we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter his gates with thanksgiving,
    and his courts with praise!
    Give thanks to him; bless his name!

For the Lord is good;
    his steadfast love endures forever,
    and his faithfulness to all generations.

May we enter this year with perspective. May your hearts rest and be grateful. 


Sarah and Kimberly 

p.s. Since we’ve now reminisced about Chicken Tetrazzini I felt it was only appropriate to share the recipe I grew up on. Add it to your menu plan this week for a measure of comfort 🙂 – Sarah

Chicken Tetrazzini

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp pepper

1 cup chicken broth

1 cup whipping cream

1/4 cup sherry wine

1 (7oz) package spaghetti, cooked & drained

2 cup cooked cubed chicken

1/2 cup grated parmesan cheese

1 (3oz) can of mushrooms or fresh

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Melt butter in a large saucepan over low heat. Blend in flour and seasonings. Cook over low heat, whisking until mixture is smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat. Stir in broth and cream and return to heat. Boil and stir 1 minute to thicken. Stir in wine, pasta, chicken and mushrooms, if using. Pour into un-greased 2 quart casserole. Sprinkle with cheese. Bake 30 minutes uncovered. To brown, briefly place under broiler. *mom says you can use regular milk or evaporated milk, it just wont be as rich

Adulting, Sparks of Joy




A Memoir to the 90’s

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