Weird ‘Empty-Pantry’ Oklahoma Food Combinations
It's about that time when you're done with the holidays and odds are, your pantry is likely weened down to nearly nothing.
If you're like my mom, you cleaned out the pantry to make room for all of the Christmas food. The same goes for New Year's dishes. By January 5th, there's not enough in the cupboards to go about making a full meal, but in the most academic sense of the word, you've got food.
This is when Okies like my dad thrive. You're hungry and have no actual food, but when it comes time to eat, a little of this and that goes a long way.
Here are some of the weirdest empty-pantry food combinations we ate growing up poor.
Butter and Sugar Sandwiches
It's as straightforward as it sounds. Take what little bread you have left, mix a little sugar into some softened butter and make a sandwich with it. While it doesn't seem appetizing at all, it hits the spot when you're hungry.
Corn Chips and Pepper Sauce
I'm pretty sure my parents have had the same bottle of tabasco peppers in vinegar sauce in their fridge for at least forty years. When it was all used up, dad just pours more vinegar in and it goes on tasting exactly the same for decades.
While you would normally use it to spice up a salad or greens, rice, beans, etc... when you don't have the main dish, it goes really well on plain corn chips as a meal.
Macaroni and Canned Tomatoes
While we're all spoiled by the idea of Easy-Mac and instant everything these days, the struggle was real long ago. Lacking enough cheese to mix into noodles, and having no meat to put in the tomato sauce, we would just toss a can of tomatoes into cooked plain macaroni noods.
Dry, Raw Spaghetti
I'll admit, this was something our middle sister did alone. When there was nothing else in the house, she'd sit around crunching raw spaghetti noodles. Hard, uncooked, direct out of the package. We all tried it, but she was the one that actually enjoyed it.
Most pantries contain a minimal amount of canned goods. Corn, green beans, cream of something or other... but my grandma always had pork and beans in the cupboard.
My mother talks about how when the kids would get hungry, if grandma wasn't in the mood to cook, she'd pop the tops on those beans and let everyone eat straight from their own can. No need to heat it up, she called Hobo Supper.
I'll admit, I've done this with ranch-style beans before in my own home.
Sardines on Saltines with Mustard
On those rare occasions my dad would end up at the grocery store with mom growing up, he'd always buy a few cans of sardines and smoked oysters. We would grumble over how nasty it seemed.
They may sit in the back of the pantry for years, but when the day came there was nothing else to eat, dad would open a can of sardines and mix them on a plate with mustard. While he wasn't too proud to eat that mess with a fork, his favorite means was scooping a glob up with a saltine cracker.
PB and Maple Syrup
This was so good, it wasn't just an empty-pantry food, we had it all the time for breakfast.
You take some peanut butter, mix it with maple syrup, and lap it up with saltine crackers. Trust me... it's delicious.
Bacon Grease Sandwich
All of the old-timers had this one thing in common... saving bacon grease. It's something we don't do anymore as a modern species because we don't cook as much as we just heat food up.
When nothing else was available, it was common to heat old bacon grease in a skillet, drag a slice of bread through it, and eat it like a sandwich. No lie, it tastes good enough to give you a heart attack.
When our oldest sister was big enough to babysit us, it fell on her to make food sometimes. Because we weren't allowed to use the stove or oven for fear of burning the house down, the microwave was our universal tool for all foods. One day our big sis stumbled onto something amazing.
She took a few slices of bread, spooned on some pizza sauce, microwaved it, and it was instant pizza.
It wasn't that crispy, chewy pizza crust we all love... it was honestly a bit soggy, but it tastes pretty amazing. We all still make it today.
Chips and Ketchup
Potato chips always go best with some sort of dip. Our family was a French onion dip kind of family... The Hiland Dairy pre-mixed stuff was OK, but when mom made it at home with sour cream and Lipton onion soup mix, well that was just heaven... but we didn't always have a dip on hand.
Dad use to sit around and just dip his plain potato chips in ketchup. We all tried it, I think I was the only one that agreed it was good. While I haven't had it since I was a kid, I still think about it when it's all I have on hand.
There is no limit to what passes as food when you're hungry.
Have any weird food combinations you've had throughout your life? Shoot me an email. I'd like to try it.