top of page

An Ad Hoc Scramble

(by Bethany Ball)

My mom liked to say, “If it’s green and in my kitchen, it’s probably mold.” Obviously, food was not the main thing in the house where I grew up. My mother, who worked full time as a Detroit public school teacher, was usually too tired to cook proper meals. Dinner might be a candy bar, or a mug of hot chocolate, or saltines with peanut butter or jelly. I learned early on to put a hot dog in the microwave, or a can of SpaghettiOs, or Campbell’s chicken noodle soup. I could live off cereal if necessary. There were only a few things my mother made that I, a picky eater, would reliably eat. One was “river stew,” a concoction she’d eaten with her family while camping near the creek in Tennessee, where she was born and raised. It consisted of a can of Veg-All, a can of tomatoes, a pound of ground beef, and an onion.

If Mom had any down time, she loved to sit and read mystery novels while nursing a rum and coke. She had very little interest in food. Ironically, my dad was the food critic for th