In 1973, at the age of 5, my family moved from the San Francisco Bay Area to Sunriver, a little resort town in Central Oregon just south of Bend. Sunriver is nestled at the feet of the beautiful Cascade mountains and hugged by both the Big and Little Deschutes rivers. My parents, who had visited Sunriver numerous times before, finally decided to move their kids from the cement jungle to the more wholesome forested resort.
And wholesome it was! Miles of bicycle paths, rivers and lakes to swim in, tennis in summer, cross-country and downhill ski teams in winter; we were healthy and active. Fueling our active bodies was mom's healthy hippie cooking. She was much more athletic than hippie, but her food was total granola. It was delicious, but as a kid it was just too healthy for my junk food craving taste buds. I wanted Cap'n Crunch and Wonder Bread. We got All-Bran and homemade bread. I did love the smell of her homemade bread, but it was so whole grain and hearty that it had to be sliced in massive thick slices or it would fall apart. My brother and I called it Birdseed Bread because she used millet and sunflower seeds (I would kill for that bread today). My sandwiches were about 4 inches thick! Bless my friend, Donna, who would always trade me half of her American cheese on white bread sandwich and one of her Suzy-Qs.
Mom also made soup. My favorite: cream of broccoli. I just didn't want it for breakfast. I tease my mom today, "who gives their kid broccoli soup for breakfast!?" She replies, "Well, it was always so cold, I had to warm you kids up somehow." Yes, folks, that was because we would cross-country ski 2.5 miles to the bus stop ( I swear it was uphill both ways). But only when our diesel was frozen and wouldn't start (which was often). Or maybe that's just what she told us...
Another "favorite" breakfast was a slice of her uber-grainy bread topped with cheddar cheese and a bit of garlic salt which she'd then throw under the broiler. Yummy after a long day of playing in the snow, not so much first thing in the morning.
We never had sugar, white flour or chocolate in our house. When we semi-jokingly cried child abuse for never having any chocolate chip cookies she would whip up a batch of, brace yourself: whole wheat, honey, carob chip cookies. I still cannot stomach carob.
What I did love were her fresh juices. She bought a juicer and, to our glee, went nuts in the juice test kitchen. You name it, she juiced it (fyi, lettuce doesn't work). Our favorite was carrot juice. My brother and I drank so much of it that we started to turn orange (seriously) and our pediatrician said we needed to chill out. What a buzz kill.
My mom is still an exceptional cook, much more gourmet than hippie, but still healthy and wholesome. Even though I tease her about the meals of our past I am thankful for the hearty, organic foods she prepared for us, which helped me develop the appreciative palate I have today.
Here are a few things I have learned from mom's hippie cooking:
1) I prefer saltier things over sweet for breakfast (although I'm sure I could eat an entire box of Cap'n Crunch at one sitting).
2) I can drink carrot juice until I turn orange again.
3) I would take a grainy thick sandwich over a wimpy white one hands down.
4) My mom's homemade soups are better than your mom's (wink).
Picture note: This is mom on the front page of our local newspaper, the Sunriver Sun.