Savoring Summer- Guest Post from My Man’s Belly

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Welcome to my summer series.“Childhood is the most beautiful of all life’s seasons”. It’s a quote from an unknown author. It sums up what I hope to accomplish with this series. Because I’d like to capture that all too fleeting moment when youth and summer collide. Where were you? What were you doing? To help me tell the story, I invited a few of my favorite food bloggers to share how they spent their summers as a kid. Starting with Pamela Braun. How My Man’s Belly spent most of her summer vacations….before she was My Man’s Belly. GREG

My Man’s Belly

I grew up just outside of Cleveland, Ohio and spent many a summer sweltering in my parents’ un-air conditioned house which, to this day, remains un-air conditioned. Yes, My Man’s Belly comes from a family of martyrs.

I’ve mentioned several times, on my site, that my parents had (and still have) a humongous garden.  That meant summers were spent assisting my mother in canning and freezing all kinds of produce (beans, broccoli, strawberries etc.).  But the worst process for me was the tomatoes.  Let’s just say heat, humidity and cooking tomatoes is not a great combination.  In fact, it’s still so traumatizing to me that I’m not even going to talk about it now.

wedding cake from the 1970sIn between donning my “mommy’s little helper” apron and gloves for the farm chores were the wedding cakes.   My mom was a bit ahead of her time in that she had a small home-based business making wedding cakes.  These pictures are but a couple of her cakes that were baked in our home (in a standard electric oven no less).   I asked her to share some of her pictures for this post and I wish she had sent some of the more ornate cakes she decorated.  Yes, even back then brides were looking to create insanely ornate cakes that did just about everything except recite the vows for you.

I didn’t assist in the design or decorating phase of the wedding cake process (and believe me, it’s a process).  My part included eating the cake scraps that were cut from the cake layers to level them off, examining the frosted surface for wayward crumbs, advising on the “lean” factor (is the cake leaning when stacked),  being a travel chaperone and performing on-site entertainment (aka the cute kid distraction).

The travel chaperone, for the travel staff member who didn’t drive, included riding in the back of the un-air conditioned station wagon (trying not to puke all over the wedding cakes – since riding backwards for a car sick kid is akin to challenging the big balls on Wipeout) keeping the cake layers from colliding into one another, making sure the bag of fountain parts, cake stabilizers, glass birds and matching glass cake topper or mangle of baby’s breath all made it into the vehicle (before leaving the driveway).

I’m pretty sure the only reason why my mom made me part of the travel crew was so that I could be the cute kid distraction at the final destination well, that and she couldn’t leave me home alone at that age (even though I was her assistant well into my teens).  People involved with the wedding process can be total freaks.  I don’t (completely) mean that in a disparaging way…they have to be like that.  They’re dealing with neurotic brides and an even bigger freak show – the mother of the bride.  Enter the cute kid distraction.  I was always dressed in a cute outfit with clean face, hair and hands.  There I was big blue eyes, red hair and freckled face beaming, pretending to be “mommy’s assistant” instead of mommy’s additional pain in the ass that day.

1960s weddingThis little dog and pony show was usually enough to get the focus off of my mom so she was able to assemble the cake with minimal interruptions.  If you’ve never stacked a 6 tier wedding cake in a strange location, in front of a bunch of people that are literally running around like maniacs you have no idea what the term nerves of steel really means.

I’ve always been proud of my mother’s gift for designing and decorating wedding cakes.  I only wish that this had been some genetic gift that I could have received from her, along with my red hair.  But alas, it was not to be.  I’m about as talented with a piping bag full of icing as a two year old.  Let’s just say it isn’t pretty.

So I don’t cook and process tomatoes and I don’t make wedding cakes…can you tell how my summers growing up have affected my life? Pamela from My Man’s Belly

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