I was raised by my grandparents in a small town in northern Idaho. Life within the stucco walls of that little pink house that Grandpa built was simple. My grandparents were children of the Great Depression so extravagance was frowned upon and hard work was applauded. Nothing was wasted, neither food nor money. Grandpa reminded me hundreds of times that a person doesn't need more than two pairs of shoes, working or everyday shoes and nice shoes for special occasions.
Every morning was the same. I would see Grandma sitting at the round table surrounded by the green vinyl chairs playing a game of solitaire. She sat in the same spot, her back to the kitchen stove, with a view toward the back yard. In the summer months there would be a profusion of zinnias that Grandma planted from seed in the spring, their blooms boasting hot pink, orange, and yellow were a sight to behold.
The home was small, but lovely. Grandma had a designers eye and at that time during the height of the 70's burnt orange and avocado green were all the rage. She had an affinity for the Spanish style which made sense from her many years living in California. The black wrought iron accents on tables, various carved wood pieces from visits to Mexico found their place on the fireplace mantle or in the terracotta tile foyer. I love that my grandparents brought this unique style to that little town in northern Idaho. It was known as "that pink house" and really didn't fit into what was the norm in that area, it was either considered odd or despised to those who lived there.
There was a rhythm to life there. it was slow and methodical. Grandma had her bridge group over every Wednesday. In the morning card tables were set, typically two in the living room with four folding chairs at each. New colorful plastic table cloths would be laid proudly with coordinating cocktail napkins accompanying each place setting. Grandma would serve quite ceremoniously the orange jello salad with finely shredded carrots and diced celery, a can of chopped pineapple gave a touch of sweetness and pecans gave a nutty crunch. I was always mesmerized by the wobbly concoction but never acquired a taste for it.
Grandpa loved working with his hands and could always be found in the garage at his tool bench creating something out of wood. He built many things, but what I remember most affectionately is a beautiful table and chairs he made for my dolls. I remember playing with those for hours on end, having pretend dinner parties. It's no wonder I have such an affinity for dinner parties to this day. When 5 o'clock came he would religiously make his scotch and soda and sit on the back porch overlooking his garden and enjoy a moment of silence.
In the evenings after dinner the television was our entertainment of choice and we'd watch MASH, the Carol Burnett show, or Hee Haw, in our unofficially assigned spots. Grandma would be stretched out on the light green velvet love seat, Grandpa in the matching upholstered chair and I in the deep orange tufted high back chair.
Food growing up with my grandparents was simple and straight forward, nothing fancy. And although Grandmas jello salad wasn't high on my list, one side dish that she made almost every night was always welcome. It was a simple cucumber salad with a mix of vinegar, thinly sliced white onion, and a spoon of sugar. For me this simple salad has stood the test of time. Though I don't make this often, when I do I remember her fondly, thank you Grandma. ~s
Grandma's Cucumber Salad
3 med. cucumbers (sliced)
2 med. onions (sliced)
1 c. white vinegar
1 tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. coarse ground black pepper
In a bowl dissolve sugar and salt in vinegar. Add the sliced cucumbers and onions. Allow to sit at least 2 hours before serving.