The Elusive DIY Reuben Sandwich and Family Secrets Revealed

| 7/18/2016 12:41:00 PM

Pressing the Reuben

All families have their folklore. Their tales of the past, of the the good and the bad. Some of which you learn from a serious conversation and sometimes through an off-hand comment. Then there are the times when you do the research, and you discover deep dark secrets and a revelation that changes how you look at your family and yourself.

Gaga’s Fudge

My father has three brothers and a sister. He is the second oldest son and the sister is the youngest. They spent parts of every summer visiting family in various parts of the country and by country, I mean largely Texas and Arkansas. It sounds like their grandmother (their father’s mother, called Gaga) was especially dear to them. She was very old when I was born, but I do remember her, if only through a virtual memory generated from old photographs. My daughter has her bedroom furniture.

One of the treats she made for the grandkids was fudge. She would wrap the pieces in wax paper and put them in a cylindrical cardboard Quaker Oats container and give it to the kids. It is a fond memory for all of them. One Christmas, long after she had died, the Hudson families gathered in Dallas for the holidays. It was rare for all of the families to be together and the always competitive “boys”, now quite grown men, would compete in anyway possible (but usually in a game of Risk that extended several days). Each day as the survivors gathered around the board for the day’s rounds of play, someone invariably suggested that somebody had moved their pieces around during the night, placing them at a definite disadvantage.

With such a large family, the exchanging of gifts was invariably chaotic and fast. However, that year, my uncle Andy pulled out of his bag of gifts five Quaker Oats containers - one for each sibling and his father. For the first time, maybe ever, the Hudson clan was quiet. They all beamed and almost simultaneously asked “Is that Gaga’s fudge?”. Andy handed out the tubes, and as each sibling received it, they went back 25 years to those special moments with Gaga. Just as they did way back when they could no longer wait, they opened the cans, hands shaking in anticipation and pulled out a roll of of fudgey goodness and the proceeded to gorge themselves. And that was the Christmas diabetes came to our family.

The Cheese Dip Deception

My dad’s mom was pretty good cook as well. She didn’t knock ’em dead like some grandmas, but when she did something, it was pretty good. One snack that was a staple at all family get togethers was Rotel. As a child, I watched her make this with fascination. You take this block of cheese, a block of cheese used only for this purpose, cut it into cubes, open a can of tomatoes, drain it but save the juice and put the tomatoes and cheese in a blender. Using the saved juiced to help liquefy things, you whipped up this wonderful dip that was called Rotel and eaten only with Fritos. It was smooth and creamy and absolutely amazing.

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