Palabras Pintorescas: Remedies that kept us healthy and happy

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By Editha Bartley

My take on problem solving is probably not acceptable to most of us. The “ignore it and it will go away” theory has been tried in my home for a very long time. My mother and my mother-in-law both agreed that the solution to the problem is not ignoring it.

So, since the unread newspapers and the stack of unopened or unread magazines is growing rapidly, I decided to take the easy way out. I have some old cookbooks in my big collection that have many good ideas for both cooking and problem solving in them. I wish I had written down some of the things my mother (and my mother-in-law) did to keep us healthy and happy.

Mother always boiled some lean beef and kept the broth in the ice box (now known as a refrigerator) should sweet Brother Bill or I get a “tummy ache.” Our doctor father always had paregoric handy, but I don’t remember ever having taken a spoonful of it.

He was smart enough to know better than to argue with our mother. Both of those ladies used lots of lemons to cure what ailed us at the time.

Mother cured our earaches with fresh lemon juice diluted with warm water. Lemon juice and honey is still a favorite cough syrup used today. And although our father was not a big fruit eater, he always said that germs of any kind cannot live in fruit juices, lemons apples, pineapple and citrus fruits. Yes, we had a grapefruit every morning, and when Doc wasn’t watching, Bill would bury his grapefruit (carefully cut up by mother) in sugar, naturally. He hated sour things in general.

Liver was high on mothers list of healthy meats as well as chicken, as in chicken soup. Liver, usually fried, was served to our hospital patients at least once a week. If onions were plentiful, our chef would serve some in the fried liver. Mother would bring home a slab of this cooked liver and chop it up with a hard boiled egg and more-or-less hover over us when we were served this delicacy. I actually learned to like it, but if Bill had 10 seconds to slip it under the table to crabby old “Bob,” mother’s dog, he would do it in a heartbeat. “Bob” was well fed, thanks to Bill’s generosity.

I was quick to point out, since I was two years older than Bill, that the reason he always got a cold was because he fed “Bob” so much of his “good food.” In many ways Bill had the last laugh on me. Although he loved anything mechanical, he managed to worm his way into our big hospital kitchen where he “helped” set the dining room tables, and just generally became a “gopher.”

The big privilege in this maneuver was his being able to eat with the help of the kitchen. That meant he could have all the hamburgers, hot dogs (when rarely served) and other goodies that left no room for fruits or vegetables of any kind.

I think our mother had about given up on him at this point, and I have always wondered how he survived five years at NMMI where he had to eat what was on his tray.

And, as an aside to this story, Bill actually became a fantastic chef. He worked his way through the University of Colorado by cooking and driving a taxi on the side. He often said he never had time to get sick back then.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, the prime rib is on order at our great grocery store in Mora, Russells. Their butchers cut and tie it just like Bo, our fabulous (when he was sober) chef at Valmora so long ago. Mother always had Bo cook goose for our Christmas there, however. And that’s another ... nuts! I just ran out of space. I wanted to include a fruitcake recipe for Art Trujillo. Maybe next time, Art!

Editha Bartley lives in Gascon in Mora County. She may be reached at 454-0563.