June 25, 2008 · Updated 12:12 PM
"I'd always said I'd never do it and I meant it, at the time. I really couldn't think of one good reason for doing it and I was certain that if I did it, I'd be sorry.After all, what good could come of it? From my point of view, the only possible results might be a quick laugh or two, but these would almost certainly be followed by remorse, guilt, embarrassment, regret, melancholy, perhaps even depression. There truly seemed little or no reason to subject myself to any of that.But, when it finally came time to decide, when the packet came in the mail and I had to make an X in the box next to Yes or No, and send in a check to cover the cost, I found I couldn't say no. I'm not sure, even now, if it was blatant curiosity or teary nostalgia that made me put the mark in the Yes box, but that's what I did. Then I spent the next two months agonizing over whether I'd made the right decision. But, I rationalized to myself, I still didn't have to do it if I decided, even at the last minute, that I'd made a mistake. I could always just say No and to heck with the money. (It wasn't much anyway.)Then, when the actual date loomed large on the calendar and I had either to make plans or forget it, fish or cut bait, as they say, at first I dithered and dodged. We had too much to do and really didn't have time; I wasn't prepared and probably couldn't be in the short amount of time left; and most of all, I just flat didn't know if I wanted to expose myself to this particular situation. It could mean trouble. Well, as I said at the beginning...I did it, and now I can say, totally without reservations and with absolute enthusiasm, if the same thing should ever happen to you, by all means take my advice and just say Yes.Last Saturday night, on one of the hottest evenings of this summer, I sat in a large room in the company of approximately 100 other people, half of whom I'd known all or most of my life and the other half of whom were either strangers or barely acquaintances. I did laugh, just as I'd expected, but I laughed a lot. And I cried, not as much, but also as expected. And yes, there was guilt (I should have done better with....); remorse (I wish I'd known that was happening); embarrassment (I don't remember anything about that, or even that you were there); regret (why didn't I take advantage of ....); melancholy (what happened to the time, the vows, the expectations); but as yet there is no depression, and I don't think there will be.Last Saturday, I went to the xxth reunion of my high school graduation class, and no, I won't fill in the x's with the numbers. It doesn't matter how many years have flown by; what matters is that I'd never gone to one before for all the reasons I cited at the beginning of this column. But this year, perhaps because of all the earlier millennium hoop-a-la, or...well, who knows why, I felt compelled to return to Shelton, a small town south of Olympia on Highway 101 and scene of the first 18 years of my life, to fling myself on the mercy of the gods of High School Reunions.What can I say? We always did know how to party in Shelton! I may well decide to mark the Yes box for the xxxth, if I think any of us might still be around to make it.RecipesIf you're really curious about how many years ago we're talking about, these recipes were very popular back then. They're still tasty; just not au courant. This first one was passed among women who had to deal with a sudden excess of fruit -- a not uncommon situation here on the Island.Cherry Raspberry Cobbler1/2 cup unsalted butter, at room temp.1/2 cup plus 1/3 cup sugar1 cup flour2 cups fresh raspberries1 1/2 t. cornstarchPinch of salt1 lb. sour cherries, rinsed, stemmed and pitted (you should have about 2 cups)1 t. fresh lemon juice, or to taste1. Beat the butter in a medium bowl until light and add the 1/2 cup sugar gradually, beating until mixture is light and fluffy. Fold in flour until thoroughly blended. Use a spatula to scrape the dough out onto a sheet of aluminum foil; wrap tightly and refrigerate until cold and very firm.2. Place 1 cup of the raspberries in a bowl; crush with a potato masher until pulpy and reserve. Reserve remaining cup of raspberries, whole, separately.3. Combine the remaining 1/3 cup sugar, cornstarch and salt in a saucepan. Stir in the crushed raspberries and heat mixture, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat to boiling. Stir in the cherries and continue to boil mixture, uncovered, until thickened, then remove from heat and cool to room temperature.4. Remove chilled dough from refrigerator, unwrap and let stand at room temperature until just soft enough to roll out. Heat oven to 375 degrees and generously butter a 9-inch square baking dish.5. Fold reserved whole raspberries into the cherry mixture; stir in lemon juice then pour cherry mixture into the prepared baking dish.6. On a lightly floured board or pastry cloth, roll out pastry to a shape that fits into the baking dish. Drape the pastry over the rolling pin and ease it gently over the filling in the baking dish. If pasty tears, press torn edges together with moistened fingers. Place in oven and bake until pastry is golden brown and filling has bubbled slightly over the edges of the pastry (30-35 minutes). Serve warm, with whipped cream or a spoonful of ice cream.The following recipe was a typical ground meat casserole dish, very popular for an easy dinner or for a potluck. You could vary the spiciness and add whatever other chopped vegetables you might like and have on hand (usually some chopped green and/or red pepper and/or chopped green or black olives).Chili Cornbread Casserole1/2 lb. ground beef (preferably lean chuck)4 t. chili powder (or to taste)1 1/2 t. salt (or to taste)1 1/2 cups flour1 cup cornmeal4 t. baking powder2 eggs, slightly beaten3/4 cup milk1-1/2 to 2 cups fresh corn kernels (preferable, but if necessary, use canned)8 oz. sliced Monterey Jack cheese1. Cook beef over medium heat in a skillet, breaking into small pieces, until no longer pink. Stir in chili powder and 1/2 t. of the salt and cook 1 minute more.2. Mix flour, cornmeal, baking powder and remaining teaspoon of salt in a large bowl; stir in eggs and milk until partially mixed. Add corn and stir until moistened. 3. Spoon half the batter into a greased 8-cup shallow casserole or baking dish. Top with half the meat mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat with remaining batter, meat mixture and cheese. Bake in preheated 400 degree oven about 40 minutes or until a wooden toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in the dish on a wire rack for 15-20 minutes; then serve warm.Note: As I noted above, you can add minced or chopped onion, peppers, garlic, olives or mushrooms to this as you are cooking the meat mixture. If the meat is very lean and you think the cornbread mixture will make the casserole too dry, add some red wine to the meat mixture - or some Worcestershire - or tomato sauce - or whatever you come up with that will please your family and/or guests. We passed around probably a dozen different variations on this basic recipe....back then."