Family Entertainment

Happy Presidents’ Day!  In honor of the three day weekend we decided to do something really exciting.  We stayed home.  Seriously, sometimes just hiding out in comfortable sweats is the best thing ever.

I sorted through oddities in our garage.  Items discovered included a television set (that would work if the cable outlet hadn’t have been ripped out of the back of it), an electric weedeater (works great, but it’s cordless and our yard is too big for it to be practical), upholstery fabric (now tossed unceremoniously on the loveseat in the family room) and a stack of M.R.E.s from when my husband was deployed to New Orleans following hurricane Katrina.

Back up here.  For those of you who don’t know, M.R.E. stands for Meals Ready to Eat. These are the pre-cooked, packaged meals distributed to troops when there isn’t access to a chow hall.  Having spent 6 years in a combat communications squadron after college means that I’ve had several over the years. Thankfully we had cooks who also deployed with us most of the time because my favorite part of the meal was the gum.  My husband, who is going on his 26th year in the National Guard, has consumed more of these than he cares to recall.  There were no expiration dates on the packages, but considering it’s been 3 1/2  years since these were issued to him, and God only knows how old they were then, I decided these needed to be used. Soon.

My DH took this  prime opportunity to share some of his past with the girls so we all assembled in the kitchen to hear the dos, don’ts, ins and outs of proper MRE consumption.  For the demonstration we used the Vegetable Manicotti  Dinner (discontinued).


In order to ease the girls into the experience we started with dessert. A poppy seed pound cake exploded out of it’s vacuum sealed pouch for all to enjoy.


As the pound cake was gingerly passed around and sampled my DH set up the heating pouch and main course. The way the heating pouch works is simple and ingenious.  Water added to the contents of the pouch triggers a chemical reaction. Basically, it’s nothing more than fast-acting oxidation, or rusting, but it gives off lots of heat. Notice the steam/smoke issuing forth from the plastic bag? BTW, it really stinks.


Next on the menu were crackers with peanut butter. The girls were still a little skeptical and unenthused about the food.


As the three of them asked questions about how the airmen (we were/are Air National Guard, not Army) carried their food and water, what kind of meals they had, etc., they began relaxing about the idea of eating the strange offerings. When the shoestring potatoes and dry roasted peanuts were opened they didn’t even need prompting to try them.


DH was in his element. He told stories about his deployments to Saudi Arabia, etc. and explained the importance of the accessories.  The moist towelette and little package of tissue were usually saved for later use. Basically, when the food left your body.  The Tabasco sauce was a pain to open, but given that besides salt it’s the only seasoning provided it too was used on just about everything. The dampness resistant matches were often tossed because they usually didn’t need to start fires and had other ways to start them. Usually at least one person in each flight carried a lighter.


Finally the main course was warmed and ready to eat.  Hmmm. 


This doesn’t look much like the meals on the website. Given, this is comparing manicotti to tortellini, but still…


Okay, so maybe this won’t go down in history as the end-all-beat-all family experience, but it could have been worse. Portable showers or latrines could have been the chosen topic.

In addition to feeding our children food almost as old as they are,  I cast on another Pi hat.  In order to keep stitch definition more prominent I decided to float the strands rather than wrapping them every two or three stitches.


The results were that the outside colorwork did look neater, but I really didn’t like the long, awkward strands on the inside.


So I frogged the hat, rewound the Blue Sky Alpaca Baby Alpaca and cast on for a simple top-down pull over.


Now off to fold the fabric and figure out what to do with some of the other oddball things from the garage.  I’ll probably just Freecycle it all.  Cheers!



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7 responses to “Family Entertainment

  1. glen gerrard

    That was interesting in an aural/ephemeral/bloggy? history kind of way. These details get ignored when the books are written!

  2. Way cool! My DH who served in ‘nam reports that tabasco sauce is crucially important. My brother, who was a Marine in the 60s, says that MREs are a huge step up from K rations. Much lighter and tastier. Imagine!

    That rapid oxidation is also used in Thermawraps – the stick-on heating pads. It’s a slower process for them, and not so hot, but very effective. I swear by Thermawraps!

    Sorry the stranded knitting didn’t work for you. Are you going to try duplicate stitching the Pi?

  3. You made sure you remembered to tell the girls that the MREs are engineered to fit in the pockets of the BDUs, right?

  4. My husband and I lived on C-rations when we were first married, so we were very happy when they came out with the MRE’s. The taste was much better and no one could tell us exactly how old the C-rats were.

  5. That was a valuable time for your family. The girls will remember this and giggle and enjoy the shared memory with Mom and Dad. Very very important. My dad died before telling us much about his early life and BB and I both feel a bit cheated. As for the hat? It happens, ya know? And, it’s brave to rip. I try to remember that.

  6. Sometimes it’s the odd experiences in life you remember, not the expensive ones. That’s why I’m probably not going to be going to Disney anytime soon. Too bad about Pi II. Maybe next time.

  7. ooohhh! My dad used to sell MRE’s in his army/navy surplus store! I ate many a questionable package of beef stew as an after school snack back in the day. ;o)

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