Early last spring, when Mom and I were knee-deep in her surgery recovery and apartment moving, I told her what I wanted for my summer birthday. When her restored knees were serving her well and she was all situated into her new home, I wanted her to make fried squash sandwiches as her birthday present to me.
Fried squash sandwiches were a mainstay at our childhood home in the summertime. Mom would pull a pattypan squash from our tiny backyard garden, slice it up, dip it in an egg-and-milk mixture, coat it with bread crumbs and fry it in a little oil. With ketchup slathered on, these sandwiches spoke summer to me. But I don't get squash sandwiches anymore - none of my guys care for
them. Hence, the reason for my strange birthday request.
Last week, Mom granted my wish (and, of course, above and beyond it). Not only did she make thick squash sandwiches on potato bread, but she put together a whole summer meal. With corn on the cob, baked beans, and my grandmother's recipe of potato salad (the only one I'll eat), she created an indoor summertime picnic. Complete with her assorted mixture of beautiful pieces of china and tea cups and the Celtic Woman DVD playing in the background, we dined in elegance.
Mom's no stranger to fine dining. She comes from a heritage of entertaining, and she knows how to set an inviting table. As a child, I can remember card parties, hen parties, Christmas parties, and the like. Being a single woman didn't stop Mom from giving us memories of a full house, fine dishes and a gracious hostess. So it's no wonder that she can make even fried squash sandwiches look elegant!
The finale to our luncheon/picnic/tea party was a pot of Indian Spice Chai with warm milk and sugar which tasted like dessert itself. My "birthday cake" was an assortment of tiny cupcakes that she picked up at cupcake bakery. Red velvet with cream cheese frosting, chocolate with peanut butter icing, chocolate on chocolate. Oh, my. It's a good thing she said I didn't have to eat them all in one sitting.
And last but not least, she announced that we were going on a surprise field trip. As we drove through town, I kept asking questions and making guesses until we pulled up to the city's historical society. She explained that they were showing a special exhibit of how our county was specifically affected by the Civil War and thought I might enjoy it. We spent two lovely hours wandering through the society together - oohing and aahing over this and that.
And, to think, all I asked for was a fried squash sandwich.