ERROL CASTENS: Food through 4-year-old eyes

By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal

Each year my preschool-teacher wife compiles her students’ interpretations of their mothers’ best dishes.
Harper’s and Andrew’s favorite is cheese pizza.
Harper emphasizes that her mom adds “yummy cheese” before putting the pie into the oven “on 100 degrees for SIX DAYS!.” Their dipping sauce is ranch dressing.
Andrew’s mom’s cooks the pizza “on six degrees for six minutes,” he reports, adding that his mom is such a good cook “’cause she puts stuff in the oven.”
Wilson favors pepperoni pizza, which his mom cooks “on a rectangle griddle thing that’s supposed to go in the oven … on 80 degrees or something like that for 56 seconds.”
For Lily, the magic is in muffins, which starts with a box of mix, 10 glasses of milk and nine blueberries.
“Then she puts it in every container in the tray and puts it in the oven for 30 minutes at 20 degrees. She lets them warm up; then me and my brother eat one,” Lily says.
To make grilled cheese sandwiches, Lauren’s mother cuts bread into triangles and tops them with “regular” cheese.
“Then she cooks it in the oven at 50 degrees for 20 minutes,” Lauren said.
After taking strudel out of a bag, Mary Elena’s mother “toasts it for … maybe, like, 20 seconds. Then we put the white icing on it. I think she does the best cookin’ at breakfast and lunch,” M.E. says.
Barrett loves his mom’s well-seasoned steak, which she cooks in both the oven and the microwave, with salt, pepper and cinnamon.
“And then we go to Big Pop’s and Grandma’s and eat the steaks there,” he says.
Tyler’s mom, reportedly “the greatest cooker ever,” makes “sketti” on the stove, then in the oven, at 10 degrees.
“She waits four or five minutes, then she gets it out of the oven. Then we eat it all with my Aunt Carla, Uncle Matt, and Jude.”
Mary Carter loves her mom’s shrimp.
“She puts it on a tray and puts it in the oven at 10 degrees for four or eight minutes,” Mary Carter says, adding that she loves her mom “’cause you make the best shrimp ever!”
Breannah’s mom often prepares tacos.
“First she takes the flat circle thing and then she puts it in the oven at five degrees for four minutes,” Breanna says. After her mom grills meat, she adds spicy sauce and serves with cheese, lettuce and tomatoes.
“Then,” Breannah declares, “it’s a crunchy taco.”
The class’ other Mary declares devotion to her mother’s “sea sandwiches.”
“First she gets the biscuits and ocean water, then she gets a donut from Sina,” she says, confident that everyone knows Sina.
“She takes the biscuit and wraps it up with a cookie cutter and cuts it in half. Then she paints it blue and cooks it in the oven on hot and cold till 5:40 in the morning. Then I eat it when the moon comes out.”
Hungry now?
errol.castens@journalinc.com