|Mom in her working days|
I don't remember our first sitter. She came when my mother returned to work when I was a year old. We lived in Germany then (my father was military), and her name was Krista, but everyone in our family called her Dee-da because that is how I pronounced her name. All I really know about Krista was that a bow and arrow accident had left her with a glass eye.
The second sitter was Miss Murphy. She took care of us for about five years, during the time we lived in Clarksville, Tennessee. Miss Murphy was the sweetest lady ever. She was in her early-mid sixties. She had never married and lived with her two brothers. One brother was named Horace, and for many, many years I honestly thought his name was Horse. Her other brother was Charlie. He had a real sweet tooth and would mix sugar and water when there was no other dessert at their house. Miss Murphy would let me sit in her lap during thunderstorms, and sometimes she would let me skip kindergarten if the other kids had been teasing me and I cried before school. (This sometimes was the result of wearing a hooded raincoat and being called Little Red Riding Hood.) Miss Murphy was very protective of us. In the summer, she would sit outside in a lawn chair, holding an umbrella for shade, while we "swam" in our little tiny wading pool. I clearly remember her telling me, "You can drown in a teaspoonful of water."
When we moved to Georgia, Nelly became our maid. She really was the one most like a maid. After all, by then I was in third grade and my brother was in fifth. She wore a white uniform. Nelly, unlike Miss Murphy, could drive, so she would take us to music and swimming lessons. She also taught us to play cards -- Fish and a game called Pat, which I can no longer remember. She was a good cook and would often start supper by putting a roast in the oven.
Despite having this household help, my mother still had to prepare dinner most of the time after she came home. In those days, a can of Campbell's soup was an easy way to make a sauce for dinner, and there were no foodie blogs or cable TV shows to make working and stay-at-home mothers feel guilty for taking this shortcut. One of my mother's easy weekday meals was hamburger pie, a one-course meal that -- with a glass of milk -- covered all the bases for a balanced meal for the kids.
Hamburger pie is kind of a variant of shepherd's pie. My mother always baked it in the oven and served it over mashed potatoes. I am more flexible (and lazier). I cook the whole thing in a non-stick skillet and serve it over rice or egg noodles when I am too rushed to make mashed potatoes.
Hamburger pie is not fancy; it won't impress your foodie friends. In fact, I would never serve it to guests, but I do make it occasionally when I want something easy and hearty, and I'll tell you a secret -- my family loves it.
1 1/2 pounds ground chuck
1 medium onion, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cans (10 1/4 ounce) tomato soup
2 cans (14 1/2 ounce) cut green beans, drained
Break up ground chuck in non-stick skillet. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Add chopped onion. Brown meat and onion together until thoroughly cooked (no pink in the meat).
Spoon out as much fat as possible from the pan. (If desired, you can remove the meat with a slotted spoon to another bowl and pour out the fat, then return the meat to the pan.) Add soup and beans. Combine and heat over medium heat for about 15 minutes or until bubbly hot.
Serve over mashed potatoes, rice, or egg noodles.