Thursday, December 6, 2012

Post Girl Scout Camp and Cheesecake

I wrote in another post about the aftereffects of my sister and i going to Girl Scout Camp.  This is possibly something that happened while I was there, or it might have happened another year, when I went, but S-2 didn't.

I suspect that it was the year that I went to the "primitive" camp.  By primitive they meant that we had to pitch tents instead of sleeping in permanent half tents with raised wooden floors and demi-sides. We had to dig our own latrine instead of using the permanent toilets.  We had to rig a camp shower instead of . . . You get the idea.

Oh, and we cooked food over a campfire and prepped at a table we lashed together ourselves.  The camp provided the twine.  It was, you know, camping instead of going to camp.  I had been camping before and was an introvert raised by hermits, so it was right up my alley.

The other campers ate in a mess hall, with the regular amount of Girl Scout singing before and after meals.  The cooks liked us because they didn't have to cook for us.  All they had to do was pack up boxes of food cans and boxes and packets for us to pick up. One night there were a few big, square trays of cheesecake left over from dinner, and they slipped them to out councilors, who were up at the main camp for something.

It was my first experience with cheesecake.  It was probably from a mix. We didn't care. It was grub.

My Dad wouldn't let us buy cheesecake for dessert. He proclaimed that it was too rich, in a voice that implied that therefor people with unjaded taste buds would find it vile. 

Out taste buds were definitely unjaded.  We usually weren't allowed to order dessert at all.  Milk with dinner was compulsory and soda was frowned on. 

The cheesecake that night was sweet and had a nice graham cracker bottom.  I provisionally considered that maybe it wasn't real cheesecake and that maybe it was just impossible for a jello pudding type mix to be too rich. I'd have to test real cheesecake some day.  Meantime, I think I had five pieces. There was enough that everyone could.

Later, after I had gone away to college, I tried real cheesecake.  I went on to try many different types of cheesecake.  I can state definitively that I never found one that was too rich.

But that wasn't what this post was meant to talk about.  It also wasn't meant to share the fact that my father went to his grave never having tasted real maple syrup. 

It was a conscience choice on his part.  We always used home made syrup.  I learned to make it pretty young.  You put a cup of sugar in a pan.  Then add a half cup of brown sugar.  Pour in a cup of water and bring it to a boil.  Stir occasionally as the sugar dissolves, then turn it off and let it cool.

When it's cool, stir in a teaspoon of vanilla and a quarter teaspoon of maple flavoring.  Put it in the Tupperware syrup holder.  Put the extra in a small mason jar.  Or in our house, an old peanut butter jar.

That was the syrup that Dad used. Even Mrs. Butterworths was a corporate trick to fool you into paying more money for an inferior product, just to show off that you used store bought syrup.

Maple syrup, on the other hand, was a different sort of trap. It was a good product, but it wasn't anything that anyone really needed.  If a person were to taste it, and find it to be good, forever after they would remember the taste whenever they used any kind of syrup.  The home made syrup that was sweet and tasty and economical would become that stuff that wasn't quite maple syrup.

So he decided to never taste maple syrup, in case he should like it.  That way his regular syrup would remain a happy treat, complete in itself.

Sorry to digress, but Dad was a pontificator and believed in the efficacy of repeating certain lessons to impress them on young minds.  Must of my memories aren't far from a memory of Dad going on about something, and the generous pontificating is easier on the memory than the angry ranting.

But on to the point of the post.

On some occasion, when I was at camp, I got a letter from home.  Dad was the one who wrote the letters in our family, so it was no surprise that it was from him.  It said, "I'm sitting here with pen and paper. Your mother thinks I'm writing you a letter. She doesn't know, does she?"

He ranted and pontificated, but he also had a sense of humor.

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