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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Green Drink - another Mama Christmas Memory

What has been is what will be,
and what has been done is what will be done,
and there is nothing new under the sun.
   ..........  Ecclesiastes  1:4-11

You may call it a green smoothie but in 1962 it was known in The Palace off Jhanke Rd., infamously and miserably, as Green Drink. Our aunt, the health food nut, had talked our I-Hate-To-Cook mother into trying her concoction of bitter greens and other sour flavors with the promise of rejuvenation and everlasting health.  "You just put it all in a blender and whip it up"

And so, for Christmas that year, Mama asked for a blender. I knew it was coming. The eavesdropping snoopy girl was bound to hang around when grownups were talking - especially between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  I seriously doubted it would taste good. I was already learning that Mama was not much of a cook and Aunt Ellen was very much a kook. I crossed my fingers but ... doubt remained.

Christmas day dawned and the blender was there under the tree but Mama didn't leap right into action. In fact, we had our usual cookies, candy, desserts and gravy for Christmas day and it wasn't until the 28th that the dread whir of the blender struck doom into our quaking hearts.  That was my baby sister's birthday and the anxiety was palpable - what child likes green food? Dr. Seuss knew of which he spoke when he wrote Green Eggs and Ham.

Into the blender went 1/2 a cup of pineapple juice, a hand full of almonds and heaping mounds of green leaves; curly kale, parsley, flat collards.  It smelled funny. It looked the consistency of poi - another nasty taste she'd offered us, as party food, for goodness sake, one benighted summer afternoon. That was in 1959, the year of everything Hawaiian,  in honor of the new state. Thank goodness no Alaskan food was being celebrated - I can just see my bad cook of a mother trying to make walrus blubber palatable.

But I digress - back to the Green Drink. She poured the evil stuff into juice glasses and told us to drink up. Ugh. The kale made it bitter, the parsley made it pungent, and the thick texture made it particularly difficult to swallow. Poor Baby Sister. Even I thought that it was unfair to force a child to drink nasty green stuff on a birthday. She wept, loudly, copious tears, and begged to be let off just for one day. How could mama torture her on her birthday?!?

At this point Daddy stepped in with his ever offered inducement to "do it or else .... "
A threat to which we always submitted because we knew he'd carry it out. A spanking in addition to the green drink - on a birthday - was really beyond endurance ... for the birthday girl or her siblings.

And so began the regime of daily Green Drinks; always nasty, though now and then just barely endurable, if she accidentally put in too much pineapple juice. A whole winter went by to be followed by the addition of a juicer and hideous celery juice cocktails, another wickedly bitter beverage that we were told to drink all summer long "to keep you cool".

Thank goodness Mama was mostly disinterested in food, unless it was candy, cake or ice cream, because by the following winter the blender was retired to a back cabinet and we were Green Drink-free. Of  course, we'd moved to the city that summer.  There's nothing like moving into a new house to ring in new routines. I suspect Daddy hated Green Drink as much as the rest of us - I never saw him willingly eat a green vegetable except peas.  Green Drink went down in the family lexicon as the epitome of cruel punishment - a reference that carried the threat of misery and also exemplified the awfulness of Mama's cooking - I mean - in addition to the butterscotch chips in the pumpkin pie.  What WAS she thinking?

Her reply - when we threw it in her face was "that was the year none of you had a single cold" which was another reason we hated Green Drink. What child doesn't want an excuse to stay home from school - and a cold? A cold doesn't even hurt all that much and if your throat is sore you get ice cream for lunch!

Fast forward a few decades and one day I began to think about Green Drink.  No. Wait. I began to crave Green Drink. I know. Don't ask me. I haven't any idea where that urge came from but it prompted me to buy a blender, some pineapple juice and some green vegetables.  It took very little tinkering with the recipe to make it into something quite tasty. And you don't have to stick with pineapple juice - not a particular favorite of mine. You can use milk, almond milk, Greek yogurt (my go-to choice right now), V8 fusion lite - if you don't mind artificial sweeteners. And if the store's greens are a little sad looking there are frozen greens and if you use the frozen ones you end up with a green Slurpee.

They call them green smoothies nowadays - but in the Haile House it's called Green Drink. A few years ago Baby Sister was visiting and I offered to make her one. The look she gave me was so bitter it would have frozen a soul less closely connected.  Big sisters are immune to suspicious stares. "Really - I promise - it's good. It was just Mama's awful sense of taste that made it so bad" I assured her and she acquiesced - reluctantly.

The look of delight on her face was marvelous - it erased forever that sad, cornered little birthday girl of memories. At least - it pulled the thorn out of her heart.

Green Drink is a bit tedious to make on a regular basis because the blender is the devil to clean. I'll be glad when this one wears out so I can get a cheap one that I can just put in the dishwasher. The scorned health benefits, otoh, are so welcome. Every year ThePrince and/or I have sore throats and colds by Christmas week so this year I made the decision. We will have a Green Drink every day in December.  We have missed a day or two so far, but 18 out or 20 ain't bad. And there's one in the blender right now. He likes his warmed, I like mine icy. And neither of us has had a sniffle or a cough or a sore throat - in spite of the Germs of December.

So - once again Mama proved right. Not in practice, no, but in theory - and that's good enough for me.

Thanks, Mama.

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