I’ve been reading Cronin in Santa Cruz. It’s less exotic than Lolita in Tehran, but more personal. My grandmother, Dinah Cronin, died 15 years ago. During my childhood I visited her a few times in Arizona, but she passed before I got to know her well. So, I’ve been developing my relationship with her through the clippings she wrote for her community newspaper.
This has (to put it obtusely) been an exercise in mixed emotions. At times she’ll say things I can almost hear coming out of my own mouth. But I’ll also read sentences that make me say, “I think Grandma could have benefited from a good editor.” (These are sometimes the same sentence, by the way.)
Example from one of her “Cook of the Month” columns:
“Summer is the ideal time for converting heavy eating to light eating and what could be simpler or healthier than turning to appetizing salads as a way to achieve this?”
After reading this, I’d rather turn to a bacon-wrapped stick of butter. Or, if you can bear with me, another example:
“There are among us those who have a special and unique talent for communication, those capable of giving instruction and imparting knowledge of a particular subject.
“Harold Lundenburg is one of these.”
I think I’ll stop reading there, Lundenburg is boring me already.
There are other pieces that are a lot of fun. She wrote a feature on volcanoes. I wish I’d read it prior to AGU. It opens:
“Man has long been inclined to think of mountains as ageless and indestructible; solid and God-like in the sense of there in the beginning, there forever!
“In actuality, man and mountain are not so different. Man is propelled into being by forces moving forward. So it is with the mountain. It is born due to pressures and forces surging deep within the earth. It, like man, has great strength in its youth, matures, ages, and is at last worn down into the earth and disappears.”
I like the spirit and wit in the piece. I find her writings warm and sincere. In short, I like her spunk.
One recipe she included in the aforementioned salad-themed “Cook of the Month” sent me into peals of laughter. This is not a recipe, this is a penal sentence. Any woman who would publish this recipe has a fine sense of irony and I am proud to be related to her. I’m imagining that after she typed this she was reaching for the bacon and butter as well.
Courtesy of June 1982’s featured cook Claire Smith:
1 pkg. lime Jello-O
1 cup boiling water
1 cup crushed pineapple
Mix and cool but do not let stiffen
1/2 cup Pet milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise
1 cup cottage cheese
1 Tbls. horseradish
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Add to above mixture and pour into a mold.