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Thursday, April 7, 2016

Another decade may have passed…


Liver and onions are a meal no one confesses to. It simply is not politically correct.

When I was a child, organ meat fed many a working class family. Liverwurst in a length of intestine…yum, yum. Sometimes Mom said it was braunschweiger, but made no difference to the kids who could say neither, and called it spread meat.

Liver was a special treat in our house. Family story had it that my dad came home from work, inhaled deeply, and said “steak” on the exhale. Mom had to say it was liver, which he could not bring himself to eat. The difference in the palates of the granddaughter of a German grocer and the grandson of a Presbyterian Irish schoolteacher. Ever after we ate liver when Dad was out of town on a business trip.

We ate Mom’s liver because it was pretty good, and the onions and mashed potatoes were great. Then my brother, the Old Cornmudgeon came back from England with his trophy wife. Oh, our Hazel. She made Yorkshire pudding so wonderful that my uncle, a WWII veteran who shipped out of England, got up and waltzed her around the kitchen.

Hazel’s liver became a family gathering. Hazel taught us you only turn liver once, and voila, no more tough liver on any plate in our family. But the sixties rolled into the seventies and eighties, and suddenly all the best food was no good for us. I’m sure liverwurst remains available at good delis, but don’t expect to find it at the current incarnation of the local A&P.

And so, liver went out of our lives. Until the year Hazel called from England. We could say no, she said, but it would be a great favor if we would allow her to bunk at our house while she showed off her America to her husband, Bill. The question went round the house, to a unanimous YES. So, Hazel and Bill came to visit. Often, as it turned out.

Of course, not many days went by before someone said, Remember those liver and onion dinners! And, of course, Hazel made liver and onions and I believe Walt even came up from Southern Ohio to meet Hazel’s husband and eat liver and onions. I’m thinking that was in the early nineties.

Now, it’s liver and onions when Hazel comes over. Or, a friend visits from Texas and leaves a fifty pound sack of Vandalia onions in our living room. Mighty fine eating.



Supper tonight. Eat your hearts out.

35 comments:

  1. My Dad ate Liverwurst all the time...I could not even take the smell. I hated when he asked me to prepare some for him on bread. I guess it is an acquired taste. When I was nine I was anemic and the Dr. had me eating liver twice a week. Ooh, not my favorite, didn't mind the smell, but the taste was not for me.

    I guess it is what you are brought up on...I love scrapple and unless you are from Philly or nearby most people will not touch that mystery combination.

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    1. now I have to google scrapple....

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    2. I grew up with German best friends. The sisters all get together once a year and make huge batches of scrapple for the whole family. I won't eat it.

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  2. I learned how to properly cook liver in the 1980s from a Julia Child cookbook. Hubby wouldn't eat it, but his mother would. so we'd occasionally have liver and onion parties on nights when he son wasn't around. I haven't made it since she passed away.

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  3. Love liver and onions. Haven't had it in a long time. Thanks for the menu idea!

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  4. My mother ate liver because she was anemic and the doctor told her that was the cure. She would eat it once a week and the house smelled of it. She hated it but was a good patient and mom and never made us eat it, although we tried it once or twice. She was a saint. I do remember liverwurst. I never really minded that.

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    1. When I was an infant, sitting up but not walking, I was diagnosed as anemic, and fed liver, raw. Apparently I sat happily in my high chair, squishing and eating. How did we survive?

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  5. Joanne, I love liver and onions...in fact, I just had this for supper a few nights ago! :)

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  6. My mother always loved liver and onions. Me not so much but if ever I was going to eat it it would be the one she cooked. she made it very nice, soft and tasty. I think it was the texture and the idea it was an organ, that I could not stomach so well. Thankfully we didn't get it much in my house. It was more of a "treat" to satisfy my mother's taste buds.

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  7. YES! We love liver and onions, too. You are right about the turning it once. When we visited my inlaws in Newfoundland, my liver and onions was the talk of the place. They were happy to learn the secret of tender liver. I still cook it once in a while, even though my cholesterol is way high. I'm glad to know that you get to enjoy it on occasion.

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  8. I really like you Joanne so I not not going to say another word.

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  9. We had liver growing up, but it was always tough. We needed Hazel's way of cooking it. I did like liverwurst sandwiches though with sliced tomatoes.

    Betty

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  10. There is absolutely nothing a child can swap if a liverwurst sandwich is the only exchange she has to offer.
    And liver was the subject of more unpleasant meals than I care to remember. I once got the same piece of liver for three consecutive meals and would have got it for the next meal too except that my mother told my father it had gone off. He was a stickler for eat everything which is put in front of you - easy for him because if he didn't like it then it wasn't served.

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  11. Liver with onions and mashed potatoes - heavenly meal! Now I'm adding some mushrooms to onions and it is delicious.
    Evalina, This and that...

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  12. I love liver and onions........what time did you say dinner was?

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  13. Oh how I wish I was living with you right now. Richard and I loved liver and onions. He was even known to order it at a steak house! However, neither our kids or our grandkids will eat it. I haven't had liver and onions in a few years now. I might just buy a bit for just me and fix it. I would imagine it would go on my Whole 30 diet!!

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  14. I don't mind the taste of liver. The texture is what I cannot handle.

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  15. We had liver at least once a week. Different livers for different cooking. We all just took for granted as another meal. I cook it but it never seems to taste so good as when mum made it.

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  16. Oh yum! I remember my mum cooking liver with onion gravy and mashed potatoes. The liver would be sliced very thin, coated with flour and fried very quickly in bacon fat for extra flavour. Kidneys got the same treatment; more yumminess.
    I never liked liverwurst, but parents and sister loved it, now my youngest son eats it too. Liverwurst is available here in small sizes in most supermarkets, but actual liver isn't so easy to find. Last time I saw some for sale it was in the refrigerated pet food section of the supermarket.

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  17. Hari OM
    ...well you know I'sa squirming over here.... heheheheheheheheh...

    Actually, it was horror stories like school dinners and mum's food thrifts with liver which played a large part in my turning vego... long before it became a spiritual imperative! YAM xx

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    1. I barely eat meat; the smell puts me off these days. But one look at those huge, Texas Vandalia onions and the thought of them was so charming, and the liver just followed right along.

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  18. we had liver and onions but my mom fried it to death, and it was tough as nails, finally, I, who learned to love to cook to get something other than my mom's meals, and she gladly let me, cause she didn't like to cook, found a recipe in the Antoinette Pope cook book, baked liver and onions, from memory, liver in a glass baking dish red wine and sliced onions and celery leaves baked till just done, very tender and the juice was the gravy for the potatoes.

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  19. Calf's liver was a favourite of mine when I was small, as were stuffed hearts. Oh for my mother's stuffed hearts!

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  20. My parents made liver and onions often, but us kids wouldn't eat it. I do still love liverwurst, though.

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  21. Liver! Yes!
    There was a liver based breakfast sausage on sale when I was a child - bliss! Then liver and onions, liver and bacon casserole...pig's fry - with the fraize - and now I cut the liver in strips, soak it in vinegar, chili and parsley then dip it in flour and fry it briefly....and make a sausage with a high liver content...pate of all sorts....no end to the delights of liver.

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  22. Oh Jo, just the smell makes me gag. I have to cook chicken livers every few days for my diabetic weenie's dog food and the whole house stinks. I think it is a receptor on the taste buds or something. Like that green herb, I can't think of the name right now, you either love it or hate it. I can taste the tiniest bit of liver in giblet gravy. It tastes kind of like dirt to me. But it is healthy, I'm sure. If I could just hide my eyes and clothes pin my nose.

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    1. When I was very small and went to visit my Grandmother in Cleveland, we rode the trolley downtown and ate lunch at the Chinese restaurant under the Palace Theater, I always had chicken liver chow mien. I have no idea what she had.

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  23. my husband likes liver. when the kids were young and in school and had loads of homework we would often eat at the cafeteria for dinner and he would get the liver. and he will still buy liverwurst on occasion at the grocery store. me? won't eat it. it was never served in our house growing up and I have no idea why I have an aversion to it.

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  24. I'm like Ellen above, my husband loves liver, but I hate it, can't stand the sight or smell of it.

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  25. My mum used to cook calves liver or pigs liver a lot when I was a child - with onions, mashed potatoes and lovely gravy - sometimes field mushrooms with it too.
    I haven't had it for years. I think you can still buy it here at the butchers but I really couldn't bear to cook it now let alone eat it. Not sure why.

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  26. As a kid my favorite meal was every Wednesday night... my Dad fixed liver and onions, boiled potatoes (with the jackets on) and cooked spinach (which I always doused with a dollop of vinegar)... Not a meal most kids would admit to even thinking about liking ;-)

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  27. As a kid my favorite meal was every Wednesday night... my Dad fixed liver and onions, boiled potatoes (with the jackets on) and cooked spinach (which I always doused with a dollop of vinegar)... Not a meal most kids would admit to even thinking about liking ;-)

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  28. I'm not a liver lover. But then, the older I get, the harder I find it to even buy meat at the grocery store. My conscience struggles.

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  29. Sorry I missed this one❣I really mean it. I love liver and onions and mashed potatoes❣Wonder if Hazel ever fried bacon with her onions. That makes it really yummy.

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