(by Carole Priven)
My mother couldn't cook for beans. Inevitably, the gummy contents of a can of Heinz Baked Beans would burn at the bottom of her cooking pot, all traces of its “deliciously rich tomato sauce” long since evaporated. Mom would grab a spoon and angrily dig into the gluey mess. Then she'd serve us the loose beans she pried free of the congealed mass, the ones that didn't cling too desperately to the bottom of the pot or to each other.
At the table, my brother and I would stare sadly at the lump on our plates. Maybe we would get a burned hamburger to go with the goop. Or perhaps a sandwich of fried processed American cheese on Wonder Bread. We never complained. Our punishment would be far worse than eating the scarred remains of my mother's foray into the kitchen. My father’s nickname for my mother was The Cossack. She was born in a small town near Kiev, Ukraine, and she had fighting spirit. If she were still alive today, the Ukrainians undoubtedly would have won the war by now.