Mike has always loved to cook. His mother made sure he could cook when he was a child. These recipes or menus are old family favorites.
Happy New Years Eve from the 60's
In the 60's in small town Midwest, our parents were not really the "partying" type. New Years Eve was usually an event we did at home, and we would eat treats and watch tv. These were the days before cable tv, so we were resigned to whatever the 2-3 stations we could pick up would have on the air. This was before the time of Dick Clarks New Years Rocking Eve and other such fare. Showing on tv might be the local news folks talking about the events of the year, and possibly showing a movie.
Often on New Years Eve Day, we would go to the store and buy Shrimp, French Bread, Escargot(canned) and makings for whatever other goodies we might want during the evening. Sometimes my parents would have to go an hour away to get the escargot, but Mom was persistent in requesting the item from the Store Manager and eventually he started carrying it.
My little brother and sister had discovered Chinese food at this point(no, they didn't discover it, but a Chinese family had recently moved to our small town and opened a tiny restaurant with a dining area the size of most living rooms. Prior to their arrival, the closest thing we had to international food was pizza or cans of Chef Boyardee. I guess Kraft made a spaghetti dinner in a box with pasta and sauce. My siblings were not so adventurous to eat Chinese meals, but they loved the appetizers.
Unfortunately, the Chinese family had decided to Americanize their hours to match other places in town, so like many other restaurants they chose not to offer dinner service in an attempt to avoid the drunks that might wander in on New Years Eve.
My mother was determined to make a few of my siblings favorites from the restaurant, Among our purchases at the store were wonton wrappers, cream cheese, canned crab meat, cabbage and chicken breast. When I think back about this, I think the only Chinese items our supermarket had were Wonton wrappers, soy sauce, and sometimes they had the 2 can Chow mein from LaChoy. When I meant 2 can, they came in separate cans, sealed together with tape or plastic. One can had meat and sauce, and the other had vegetables which had to be rinsed before added to the sauce mix.
Mid-afternoon, the kitchen became a whirlwind of activity, as mom began prepping egg drop soup, egg rolls, and crab rangoon. After the soup was bubbling on the stove, she began getting ready to make shrimp scampi. Shrimp were thawed and cleaned(this is when I learned about deveining shrimp) She pressed garlic, and got the ingredients rounded up to make sweet and sour sauce for the Chinese appetizers.
Mom got things ready closer to dinner time. Hot oil was warming in a fryer on the kitchen island along with a hot plate with the egg drop soup. That area was off limits to us kids. She got out a saucepan and a frypan and put them on the stove. She started melting butter in the sauce pan.
About that time my dad got home from work. He had bought a bottle of Champagne for mom and dad, and also a bottle of Welches sparking grape juice for us underaged "drinkers" I don't know how far Dad had to drive for the Champagne, as our county was dry. No liquor stores in the county. We are talking 1960's bible belt here.
Mom would mince the chicken with a grinder then mix it with cabbage and chopped onion. She would then roll up the egg rolls using water and flour as a paste. Once she had a few made up, she would fry them up.
While those were frying, she would mix up the crab rangoon mixture. This is when we figured out the chinese place was probably using mostly cream cheese and very little crab. The ones Mom made were heavy with crab, and when they hit the oil, the filling seeped out from any and all places. She remade them and backed off on the crab. Making your own crab rangoon can make a huge mess, but they were good.
I had opened the escargot, and the type our store had consisted of a can of Roland escargot, and then a separate container of shells. I arranged the shells in a oven pan that had dimples that held the shells. Then I slipped an escargot in each shell.
The garlic was added to the butter and I spooned butter into each shell carefully. The pan went into the oven. While this was happening, Mom put more butter in a fry pan, then added the shrimp and sauteed them. When the snails were hot and bubbling they came out of the oven, and the bread went into the oven to warm. When it was warm, the shrimp had cooked and we transferred the shrimp to bowls, them swimming in garlic and butter.
My brother and sister were at the table awaiting their chinese appetizers, Dad would usually serve them once the fried food had cooled enough to eat.
I grabbed my dish of escargot and a few shrimp and my parents got bowls of shrimp. We tore into the bread and dipped it into the garlic butter and happily ate the shrimp and in my case the escargot. Mom always joked that she wasn't so sure I liked the escargot as much as the french bread and garlic butter.
On New Years Eve, we got to drink soda as we wanted, and usually watched a local TV stations New Years Eve celebration, and drink our Welches and make our way to bed.
Escargot with Garlic Butter
Shrimp Scampi with Garlic Butter
Sparkling Grape Juice
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Mike Bouska