Plain talk about food: Smells I Remember and a Very Berry Fool
by Colly Gruczelak
Jul 26, 2013 | 1827 views | 0 0 comments | 27 27 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Here in Ben Lomond, our star jasmine is blooming above our front porch. Each time we get a breeze, its’ scent permeates our home, sending my thoughts back to the 1940’s. 

As a child it seemed all roads led to my Aunt Esther’s house in Puyallup, Wash. Along the edge of those roads were the old Burma Shaving Cream signs. I had many of those signs memorized. “She kissed the hairbrush by mistake; she thought it was her husband Jake. Buy Burma Shave” was my favorite. 

My aunt and uncle prepared for those four hour trips days in advance. Jarred foods from my aunt’s larder, vegetables and berries from their garden and chickens from their flock were killed and dressed the night before our adventure began. Lilies and lilacs in water-filled mason jars stood on the floor of the back seat of the car with me squeezed in between. 

This cargo of food was to be shared with our family we would be visiting. The flowers were to decorate the graves of our relatives in the cemetery along on our way. We would stop at the cemetery, place the flowers and eat our picnic lunch.

In the back seat of the car, windows open and eyes closed, I would hang out my head.  This behavior added to my aunt’s fear of cars and speed, though my uncle never drove his 1940 Chrysler faster than the 35 mile an hour speed limit.   

Smells are what comes to mind remembering those trips. Smells of old roses growing on rambling country fences filled the car. Smells of newly mown hay, and then, suddenly, the ghastly smell of the farmer’s livestock pens. There was the fishy smell of the oyster beds in Olympia as we crossed over the bay and the smell of Shell gas when we stopped to refill the car’s tank.  

When we finally arrived there were hugs coupled with the smell of my uncle’s Old Spice cologne and my aunt’s cooking. The menu was always the same; meatloaf with a brown sugar topping and freshly baked rolls with a “Very Berry Fool” for dessert. Even the icebox’s chill could not take away the delicious smell of those berries.  

The next two days would be filled with the putrid smells from the nearby pulp mill in Tacoma. When the winds would finally shift, the sweet heady smell from fields of daffodils and the bed of lilies of the valley growing under the kitchen window would fill the air.

Too soon our “adventure” would near its end and in the now emptied car, we would begin our journey home.

As we neared home, the smells of the great Pacific Ocean could be detected, and finally, the last sign would come into view…”Many a wolf is never let in, because of the hair on his chinny-chin-chin. Burma Shave.”

Once again our “adventure” was over, and we were immersed in the familiar smells of home.

- Colly Gruczelak, a Ben Lomond resident, loves people and loves to cook. Contact her at



Recipe: A Very Berry Fool



1 pint raspberries divided

2 quarts strawberries divided

½ cup plus 4 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin

1 cup heavy cream

¼ cup sour cream

½ teaspoon vanilla

5 Carr’s Whole Wheat Crackers crushed.


Process ½ pint raspberries, 1 quart strawberries and ½ cup sugar in food processor for 1 minute. Strain through fine mesh strainer. You should have 2 ½ cups puree.  Transfer ½ cup puree into small bowl and mix in gelatin. Let stand 6 minutes. Heat remaining puree until mixture begins to bubble.

Remove from heat and stir in gelatin mixture until dissolved. Refrigerate 3 hours.


Chop remaining strawberries into ¼-inch pieces and add to raspberries in medium bowl with 2 tablespoons sugar. Reserve.


In mixer, add cream, sour cream and vanilla and remaining 2 tablespoon sugar. Beat until stiff peaks form. Transfer 1/3 cup to small bowl. Reserve


Remove thickened berry mixture from refrigerator and whisk until smooth. Add 2/3 of this berry mixture to whipped cream mixture. Mix until incorporated. Fold in remaining thickened puree leaving streaks.


Divide 2/3 of the chopped berries among 6 parfait glasses, followed by evenly dividing the creamy berry mixture and ending with the remaining berries. Top with the reserved 1/3 cup of whipped cream mixture and crushed crackers. Garnish with mint leaves.  Wickedly delicious. Enjoy!

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