The Cooking Badge

  Brown Owl and Guide pins

Brown Owl and Guide pins

We have an automatic garage door opener. (More on that later.) Living in suburbia, I typically leave the house through the garage, open the door, back out and press a button in the car to close the door. This action, by the way, I must do with intense focus, concentration and mindfulness, otherwise - a half block away, filled with doubt – I turn back to check. Ok, the door is closed - and I drive away.

But this was early Monday morning – garbage day – and the blue bins had already been emptied, so leaving the car in the driveway, I returned the blue bins to the garage. Stepping back into the car I hear a bird call – “too wit, too wit, too woo”. I am not a birder, but I was a Brownie and a Girl Guide. No idea why we used to chant “too wit, too wit, too woo”, but we did – over and over and over.

What bird was this? Consult Google. Answer: the Tawny Owl – in fact two Tawny Owls! “Tawny owls make the familiar 'too-wit too-woo' call during the night and early hours but this is actually a male and female owl calling to each other - the female makes the 'too-wit' sound and the male answers with 'too-woo'.” [Source]

Several of my recent blog posts have been reminiscences – and this little bird call triggered another journey down memory lane - hope you don't mind.

For those who did not participate in “Guiding”, the leader of the Brownie pack was called Brown Owl, and second in command was Tawny Owl – there was even a Snowy Owl. The little girls were split into groups named for elves and fairies and we sat in a circle around a papier-mâché toadstool. I continued into Girl Guides – a transition that involved (for me) memorable pageantry. Walking from one group to the other along a silk carpet wearing fairy wings. “Hark who goes there? A Brownie. By what right do you come? By the right of my golden wings.” These days, I can’t remember why I walked into the next room, but I can remember that – good grief.

In Brownies and Guides, there were many areas in which one was encouraged to learn and demonstrate new skills for the reward of a badge. I had several badges, one of them being the cooking badge – not sure if that was at the Brownie or Girl Guide level – though I was quite young.

Here’s all I remember – I was told to go to a specified house of a family I did not know. In hindsight, it was probably a leader of a neighbouring pack who (bravely) volunteered for this trial. Arriving at the house, the lady told me what I had to make and then she closed the kitchen door and left me alone. I was told to make mashed potatoes and beef patties, and I think the vegetable was canned corn. There was no recipe that I recall. Corn and potatoes – easy-peasy. I have no idea what I mixed into the meat – then I fried the patties up in a fry pan. When ready, I served them and waited in the kitchen until they were done eating, and then had to tidy up. I honestly do not know how that family ate what I made. Maybe they didn’t. 

If you are thinking that they stashed away my food and ate a pizza instead, I must note that at the time there were few (if any) pizza take-out joints. If you grew up in Hamilton, you may have had your first pizza at P-Wee’s Pizzeria on Crockett St – opened from 1963-1994. If you could not afford that regularly, then you perhaps began to buy Kraft or Chef Boyardee Pizza Kits. I just Googled this and they still sell them! How can these still be a thing!!??

But I digress…

lentil-meatballs.jpg

Shockingly, I got my Cooking Badge – though did not afterwards embrace cooking, and in the ensuing years had grumpy debates with my mother re whether one could ever catch a man without being able to cook – most notably, cabbage rolls. Once married, one of my “go to” cookbooks was “101 Ways to Use Hamburger” – and pan fried meat patties, served with yams from a can, were often on the menu. Bizarre!

It is only fitting that the recipe linked to this blog post be a meatball – but times have changed and I have changed with them. These little delicacies combine lean turkey and healthy lentils! With a choice of sauces you have a hit on your hands!

Permit me a few postscripts.

What about the garage door opener? These were not common when our house was built. For our 25th wedding anniversary, my parents and in-laws split the cost of automatic garage door openers. All my dad’s idea. I was a daddy’s girl through and through, but was so disappointed in that gift – what a crazy way to celebrate a marriage! I forced him to return the thing and used the money instead to frame prints of the passage of time in a relationship – a better memento. A few years later we caved in and bought the door openers. I still sometimes think of my dad as I enjoy that convenience. He meant well and I must have seemed so unappreciative.

 Spring

Spring

 Summer

Summer

 Fall

Fall

 Winter

Winter


Brownie badges. I cannot recall others I earned, but I just loved learning to do knots! I had a cute little booklet with all the basic knots which disappeared at some point. These days I get a kick out of the fact that there is a très cool app for learning knots called 3D Knots.

I never became involved in Guiding as a leader, but I do have a leader’s pin (pictured above along with my Guide pin - who knows what happened to the Brownie pin - a leaping elf!). In my past life, I was a post-secondary educator – mostly of mature students. The horrible part of that job was the grading. The best parts were the kind remarks and gestures from students. They sometimes claimed that I “changed their life”. I made sure the last truth they learned was that they changed their own lives through their dedicated study. Nonetheless, one memorable student was determined to offer me a tribute to my role in the tapestry of her life – she gifted me her Brown Owl pin - so sweet!

Here’s the recipe for Swedish Lentil Meatballs

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P.S. Were you a Brownie or Girl Guide? Any memories? badges? Love to hear your stories!

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