Several years ago, Nancy and I were in San Francisco for a conference in the early Spring. We sat through some great presenters all morning, trying to stay awake because of our late night arrival the day before. We ate most of the catered lunch and decided to walk outside in the sunshine, there was a path along the water across the street. We set out to enjoy the sun, leaving Fairbanks and the dark behind. Half way across the parking lot and on the other side of the street the wind picked up, blowing the salty scent of ocean in our faces. In that instant, I burst into tears. Nancy, who is used to me and my quickly shifting moods, was even startled by this. "What wrong? Are you O.K."
"I'm fine," I choked through sobs "It just smells right."
I lived in Palo Alto for the first 8 years of my life, before my mother moved us to the land-locked state of Kansas. I summered in Fairbanks, also land-locked. And while my dad and mom took us all over Alaska camping, fishing, rafting and just hanging out, I realized something that day.
The California ocean smells right...and smells like family: Grandma laying out on the beach with a towel over her face so she won't get wrinkles, the trees in her backyard where we would climb and eat the fruit, her kitchen where she would use her hand grinder to grind the left over roast beef to make Grandpa's sandwiches for lunch at work, playing cards and needing a shoe box to hold my cards because my hands were too little, watching Mighty Mouse on her T.V. with her dog Mitze ....... all that came crashing over me with that whiff of ocean air. I was completely overwhelmed with childhood memories.
My grandma turns 95 today. She lives in Montana now, about 30 minutes from where my mother now lives. I know my mom will pick her up and take her to Helena for the day, make her a cake and have her spend the night. They will head back to grandma's the next day so grandma can check her cats, she doesn't like to be away from her two cats very long. I'll give her a call and wish her a happy day. And then, I think I'll grind some roast beef to make sandwiches for lunch tomorrow. I wonder if Mighty Mouse will be on?
Happy Birthday Grandma.
Roast Beef Salad Sandwich Filling
Adapted from my Grandma's Kitchen
- 1 pound cooked roast beef (I usually use left over moose)
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped onion
- 1/4 cup coarsely chopped celery
- 1/2 cup dill pickles
- 1/2 to 1 cup mayonnaise
- pickle juice, to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon onion powder, optional
- 1/8 teaspoon pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- sliced red onion, for topping
- lettuce, for topping
- sliced wheat or white bread
Put beef and onion, celery, and pickles through a meat grinder with the coarse plate, or mince the ingredients or process in a food processor until evenly chopped. Add remaining ingredients, with enough mayonnaise and pickle juice to taste and moisten as desired. Toast the bread, if desired, and then spread with a little butter or mayonnaise. Add lettuce leaves; spread a layer of the beef spread over the lettuce, then top with sliced red onion.
Makes enough for 6 to 8 sandwiches.
January 18, 2012 Daylight 5 hours, 15 min., 42 seconds Current Temp. -38º F