Sometimes I swear I'm channeling my grandmother. I am not by nature a person who loves to clean, unlike MomMom who took vacation at the beginning of the summer to take down the heavy winter drapes, wash all the windows (using Q-tips and toothpicks to get into every nook and cranny), and put up the light criss-cross curtains, bleached white, starched and ironed to within an inch of their life.
I silently chuckled when MomMom would scold me if my drawers weren't neat. I could not imagine how the conversation would go, even if someone did dare to peek into my messy dresser. How would they work the topic into conversation? "When I was snooping in Linda's house, I opened her medicine chest. Would you believe that she has expired aspirin?" Or "I just happened to be in Linda's bedroom, and I opened her underwear drawer. She doesn't iron her panties!" Neither scenario seemed likely.
However, in anticipation for the PECO pick up of our garage refrigerator, I found myself elbow deep in soapy water scrubbing down the shelves and walls, removing drawers and soaking them in a bleach solution. Who was I trying to impress? My husband walked past me and acted shocked. "Oh, I see. There was a change of plan. It's Better Homes and Gardens coming to pick up your refrigerator, not the PECO recycling crew." I wrung out my rag and saw the humor in the situation. This appliance served us well, even after it had been relegated to the garage. It was the repository for beverages in case of unexpected guests, it was the place where I would stash a pot of stock to cool quickly, it was the spot to store an over abundance of summer produce, and now I'm waiting for its removal to the refrigerator heaven in the sky.
When the refrigerator recycling truck arrived, two muscled men opened the door to make sure it still operated, then they cut the cord and carted Old Faithful down the driveway. Having a second refrigerator in the garage was the last vestige of my childhood memories of a second kitchen, where my grandmother and mother and (eventually I) would can tomatoes and peaches, where we would bake pizzelles at Christmas over the gas flame, where we would cook in the summer to keep the house cool.
It's no wonder that I was looking at my old refrigerator with my grandmother's critical eye. It's the end of an era, an age when families needed a second kitchen. With just the two of us, it was downright wasteful to run that second refrigerator, storing food that often was forgotten because of its lack of proximity to the kitchen. It was time for a change.
But maybe I should whip up one of MomMom's recipes, for old time's sake. My favorite summer dessert was MomMom's Icebox Cake.
MomMom's Icebox Cake
1 large box chocolate pudding mix (not instant)
1 large box vanilla pudding mix (not instant)
4 cups milk
1 box graham crackers.
Prepare the chocolate pudding according to box directions with two cups of milk. (I use the microwave method, but MomMom always cooked the pudding, stirring constantly over low heat.)
While the pudding is cooling slightly, place a single layer of graham crackers on the bottom of a 9x13 glass baking dish. Cut crackers to fit, and reserve any small or broken pieces.
Pour slightly cooled pudding over crackers.
Place a layer of graham crackers over the chocolate pudding.
Prepare the vanilla pudding as above. Cool slightly, and pour over second layer of graham crackers.
Crush the pieces of graham crackers (enough to make 1 cup of crumbs) and sprinkle over the top of the vanilla pudding.
Refrigerate until well chilled.