For the fifth straight year, October is Dining Month on OnMilwaukee.com, presented by Concordia University. All month, we're stuffed with restaurant reviews, delectable features, chef profiles and unique articles on everything food, as well as the winners of our "Best of Dining 2011."
During the '80s, my sister and I were "latchkey kids," a now-defunct term that referred to children or teens with parents who worked full-time and, consequently, took care of themselves after school until their mom and / or dad returned from work.
Leaving kids alone for a couple hours between school and dinnertime was more acceptable back then, even though today most parents believe school-aged kids need supervision. I tend to agree, considering my latchkey kid status led me to dialing prank calls, making out with a boy from my building in the basement and eating bizarre combinations of food. (We'll get to that later.)
It's not that my parents didn't lay down the rules. They did. They gave me a house key strung on a piece of rainbow yarn and I wore it around my neck every day to school. They told me to walk home with a neighbor and let myself into the house to make a snack and sit in front of the TV until my they arrived.
I did all of this. Most of the time.
The glitch was, however, that I got bored with TV and so, naturally, started free ranging around the flat, looking for things more interesting than Merv Griffin's face. A lot of times, this meant concocting unconventional snacks in the kitchen with my sister, Jenny.
"After school snacks" for us were usually big Tupperware bowls filled with cereal floating in way too much milk or fried Oscar Meyer bologna on the stove top (we could blow through an entire package in one afternoon), and sometimes we got even more creative and made things like tuna fish mixed with peanut butter or cold hotdogs with slices of cheese, the kind that came folded in plastic, wrapped around them. And if there was chocolate syrup in the fridge, dozens of cupboard-stashed foods were fair game for a drenching: marshmallows, Pop Tarts, graham crackers.
"You kids barely ate a bite of your Hamburger Helper," mom would often say later in the evening, right before she and dad spent the rest of the evening smoking and bickering.
Most of our cuisine creations were terrible flops and we would have to get rid of all evidence that we had wasted food before mom walked in. (Thanks, garbage disposal.) But this was the beauty and the curse of my latchkey life: I was able to experiment, to try things on my own and to fail.
Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.
Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.