Food, Big Lake and the Ellis Family

November 15, 2010

When Sharyl and Monte were newlyweds, both agreed Sharyl was not a particularly good cook.  This is mentioned because one of the tasks while the Ellis family lived at Big Lake was for Sharyl to cook meals for the hunters residing at the Big Lake Clubhouse during hunting seasons.  Over the years, Sharyl had plenty of help, often from her younger sister Susan and others and before long, Sharyl became quite a good cook and like Monte, quickly adapted to making well received dishes out of normal things found in the kitchen.

Monte and Sharyl also told of one picky hunter, who if he did not care for his food, would spit the first bite back on to the plate and send it back to the kitchen.

Below is a photograph of Gladys Strode, Sharyl’s mother, in the kitchen at Big Lake.  The decorative lamp in the upper left corner was made by Monte from a small wooden barrel.


Sharyl's Mother Gladys in the Big Lake Kitchen


One good thing about living at Big Lake was the opportunity to eat wild game and fish.  Often, hunters would give Monte and other duck hunting pushers waterfowl during the hunting seasons.   Fish was another frequent food item on the Ellis table.

Below is a photograph of Sharyl and a channel catfish.

Monte and his younger brother Fred, Big Lake, with fish


Monte and Eric, posing with ducks and geese


When Kathy and Eric were growing up at Big Lake, candy and sweets were more of luxury item than a common staple.  Sharyl did her best to provide the Ellis children with desserts, but more often than not, sweet items were more likely to be that of fruit or jello, but like most mothers, special occasions deserved desserts and Sharyl would not disappoint her children.


Kathy's 5th Birthday Cake


Because of financial reasons, Sharyl also had to be quite creative when it came to family meals.  One time shopping in a local Canton grocery store with his mother, Eric saw a strange-looking meat item in the bottom of the Sharyl’s grocery cart.  Upon further examination, he learned it was a cow tongue.  When Eric asked Sharyl what the gross tongue was for, she told Eric to mind his business.   Some time later for a family dinner, Sharyl placed an odd-shaped, rectangular, lighter than normal piece of meat on the supper table. Never seeing this type of meat before, Eric asked Sharyl what it was and was told to mind his business and just eat it.  Realizing what it was, for punishment, he ended up sitting at the table alone for some time after refusing to eat the cooked tongue.


Kathy and Eric


As most people can attest to, many items from nature taste better, especially snow.

In the kitchen at Big Lake, on cold mornings it was not unusual to come down from upstairs and to find large, wolf spiders on the kitchen floor.  One time, from the safety of the staircase, Kathy and Eric tossed raw potatoes at an unusually large one to try to either hit it or scare it away.

There also used to be a baseball-sized hole in one of the wooden kitchen walls. A spider webbed filled closet beneath the staircase shared this wall.  One time Eric stuck his hand inside this hole and after being shocked with a live wire, thought for some time a large wolf spider had bit him.

Below is a photograph of Kathy taking a bath in the Big Lake kitchen sink.


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