Cooking with Myra: Good food, good friends, good memories

Aug. 1, 2011 at 3:01 a.m.
Updated Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:02 a.m.

Pimento Cheese

Pimento Cheese

By Myra StarkeyI received a catalog in the mail several weeks ago, and I stared at the model on the front cover. She was wearing a loose blouse over a pair of jeans, and on her feet, were the shoes of my youth.

One might be surprised that I could recognize something like a pair of shoes, when in fact, they are less than 1 inch in size in the picture, but I am a shoe aficionado.

I love shoes. Fashionable, ugly, sleek, comfortable, sassy or ridiculously high-heeled, I can appreciate beauty and function.

A friend once told me that no matter how much weight you gain, shoes always fit. So, I have taken this advice to heart and amassed quite a collection.

Taylor does not share my adoration for footwear and thinks it humorous that I would find such pleasure in something worn on my feet.

Or maybe, he is just amused by how many darn pairs of shoes I own.

During my high school years, my friends and I wore espadrilles, Dr. Scholl's, oxfords or flip flops. Although I grew up in the days of disco, I had a style probably best described as "gypsy-Bohemian-goes-to-the-beach." When Kork Ease shoes came onto the clothing scene, I had to have a pair. The top of the sandal was made of simple tan leather straps, soft as cream, criss-crossed at the toes. The heel was made of cork and covered in suede. If you were daring, you might have the 3-inch high heel, which could be worn with knee socks (argyle, of course) and a short skirt.

My father was of the opinion that you needed one pair of shoes for church and another for school. Raising three daughters, he had to have such opinions, or he would have surely gone broke buying shoes and accessories.

I begged for those shoes for a long time, and Mom finally relented and bought me a pair.

The Kork Ease sandal had been around since 1953, but had regained popularity in the mid-'70s.

By the time I was in college, the shoes seemed to have faded from the fashion world, at least in my neck of the woods. I traded in my sandals, Dr. Scholl's and clogs and opted for penny loafers and topsider boat shoes.

Bohemian wear had given way to polo knit shirts with upturned collars and chino pants.

When I saw these retro shoes on the model, I did what any 50-year-old would do. I searched for them on the Internet.

In the old days, one had to go from store to store looking for something that was fairly out of the ordinary. Now, we can find 10 websites with the same item and do a price comparison in less than one minute.

I ordered a pair one night and waited anxiously for them for the next three days. When they arrived, I slid them on and looked down at my feet. My mind did a flashback to my youth. The shoes still come in several heel heights, but I had chosen the same ones I wore then, a conservative 1-inch wedge. Looking at them from a critical point of view, they are not particularly attractive, but gosh are they comfortable.

The shoes represent for me a period in my life when I was trying to discover my own sense of style.

I have probably come full circle in finding the Kork Ease shoes because once again, I prefer the "gypsy-Bohemian-goes-to-the-beach" look, rather than tailored skirts or stylish dresses.

My food habits have changed, too. I prefer simple dishes to fussy casseroles or complicated sauces.

As I have aged, I think back to the simple days of college when a feast might be spread on the coffee table in your apartment with the guests sitting around on the floor because you only owned four chairs and six friends were over for supper.

Everyone contributed a portion of the meal and dinner involved lots of conversation and lasted for hours.

Last week, we spent an evening with friends. They purchased a piece of property on the river between Victoria and Cuero and wanted us to see it. Since we had planned to go late in the day because of the heat, I told them I would bring something for us to snack on.

I knew our surroundings would be rustic, so I needed a moveable feast. I made pimento cheese sandwiches and for dessert, brownies with a candy bar center.

We cut up ice cold apples. The four of us sat on folding chairs in their mostly unfurnished trailer and feasted on pimento cheese sandwiches.

We were hot from being outside in the Texas heat, and sweet tea never tasted so good. But it was most likely the company that made it a memorable meal.

Food doesn't have to be complicated to be good. Simple ingredients and good friends often make the best meals.

Myra Starkey lives in Victoria. Write her in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901, or e-mail



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