When I spend time reminiscing about former times, I recall long-time friends, former pets, and favorite places.  For some reason, this morning I started thinking about old cars.  If they could talk, each of them would have lots of stories to tell.

The first vehicle I remember was a light green Chevrolet my parents dubbed “Old Huldy.”  It may have been a 1949 model, I am not totally sure, but it came from somewhere around that year.  The back of it slanted down nicely; my sister Terri and I found it to be a great slide if we avoided the center rear ornament.  When the car finally went out of commission and sat in our driveway, we liked to play inside of it.  Huldy was equipped with a cigarette lighter; I found out that if you stuck a screwdriver inside, sparks would shoot out.  I told Terri about it, convincing her to try.  She used a long nail instead of a screwdriver.  Not only did she see sparks; she also had a shocking experience.  I ended up in a lot of trouble.

The next car we had was a white Oldsmobile.  My brothers were born during its tenure as the family sedan.   When Bob (my brother) was a toddler, he would stand on the driver’s seat, grip the steering wheel, and pretend to drive.  After he was a bit older, my younger brother, John, joined him in his adventures.  One afternoon they sneaked into the car; this time they managed to get it out of gear, and it started rolling.  There was a big hill in front of our house; thankfully, the left front wheel dropped into the ditch across the road, preventing what could have been a real tragedy.

A blue 1959 Chevrolet station wagon followed the Oldsmobile.  It was much better for traveling with six children and two adults.  Back in those days, there were no seat belts.  My siblings and I enjoyed it when Mom and Dad lowered the back of the rear seat to give us more room while we were riding.  That station wagon took us on many picnics and other trips.

The first car my husband Bob and I had was a 1968 Dodge Dart.  Actually, Bob drove it when we were dating.  The left front headlight was cantankerous.  Sometimes it came on, and sometimes it didn’t.  It must have been a wiring problem; Bob learned to take his fist and whack the dashboard in just the right place.  This action usually caused the light to work.  The funniest time it happened was when we were leaving an ice cream parlor.  A couple of policemen were sitting on stools inside, watching out the window.  They noticed that only one headlight came on, and we noted their interest.  Bob reached up, his fist came down on the dashboard, the headlight came on, and we drove away chuckling at the startled looks on the faces of the policemen.

Love of cars seems to be a guy thing, so automobile stories appeared to be a good subject for a pre-Father’s Day column.  I could tell a whole lot more, but I guess I really should get to this week’s food ideas.  Cars have grills, guys like to grill, and so I chose recipes with that in mind.   There’s even a grilled dessert!

Steak With Molasses Barbecue Glaze

1/2 cup molasses (I use sorghum)

1/4 cup prepared mustard

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 to 6 small steaks (I used eye of round)

Whisk together first 3 ingredients; remove and reserve 1/4 cup marinade for basting.

Place steaks in a large shallow dish or zip-top plastic freezer bag after piercing them several times with a fork.  Pour remaining molasses mixture over steak.  Cover or seal; chill at least 2 hours, turning occasionally.  Remove meat from marinade; discard marinade.

Preheat grill to medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees).

Grill steaks, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat 6 minutes on each side or to desired degree of doneness, brushing often with reserved marinade.  Serves 4 to 6.

Balsamic Vinaigrette Pork Chops

6 to 8 boneless pork chops, sliced 3/4 to 1-inch thick (or however many you need)

Prepared light balsamic vinaigrette salad dressing (I used Kraft)

Place pork chops in large bowl and pour enough salad dressing to coat each one, turning to coat all sides.  Let stand at room temperature about 15 minutes.

Grill pork chops, discarding any dressing left in bowl.  Use more dressing to marinate chops as they cook.  Cook slowly over lower heat, allowing them to stay more juicy.  Remove from grill and serve!

Honey-Thyme Marinade

3 cloves minced garlic

1/3 cup olive oil

2/3 cup orange juice

1/4 cup honey mustard

3 tablespoons honey

3/4 teaspoon dried thyme

In a gallon-sized zip-top bag, mix together all ingredients.  Add meat, seal, then refrigerate for 4 to 12 hours.  Turn bag occasionally to make sure all sides are exposed to the marinade.  Shake off excess liquid before grilling.  (For safety reasons, discard the marinade liquid in which meat has soaked.  If you wish to use some as a sauce, set aside an unused portion for that purpose before adding the meat.)

This marinade is wonderful with chicken!

Grilled Vegetable Salad

1/3 cup balsamic vinegar (white or regular)

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 green onions (white parts only), finely chopped

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1-1/2 teaspoons molasses

1/2 pound baby carrots

1 red bell pepper, seeded

1 yellow bell pepper, seeded

2 zucchini

2 yellow squash

1 large sweet onion

Stir together first 7 ingredients in a large bowl.  Set aside.

Cut carrots and next 5 ingredients into large pieces.

Add vegetables to vinegar mixture.  Let vegetables stand 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Drain vegetables, reserving vinegar mixture.  Arrange vegetables evenly in a grill basket.

Grill, covered with grill lid, over medium-high heat (350 to 400 degrees) 15 to 20 minutes or until crisp-tender, turning occasionally.

Toss vegetables in reserved vinegar mixture.  Serve salad immediately or cover and chill up to 8 hours.

Chocolate-Sauced Dessert Kabobs

3/4 cup semisweet chocolate pieces

1/4 cup butter or margarine

2/3 cup sugar

1 (5-ounce) can evaporated milk (2/3 cup)

2 medium-sized ripe (but firm) nectarines or peaches

1/2 (10-3/4-ounce) fresh or frozen pound cake

2 ripe bananas, peeled

6 whole strawberries, stemmed

For sauce, melt chocolate pieces and butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Add the sugar. Gradually stir in evaporated milk. Bring to boiling; reduce heat. Cook and stir over low heat for 8 minutes. Remove from heat; set aside.

Remove pits from nectarines or peaches; cut fruit into wedges. Cut the pound cake and bananas into 1-inch chunks. Alternately thread the peaches or nectarines, cake, and bananas on six 12-inch-long skewers. Add one strawberry to each skewer.

Grill kabobs about 5 minutes or until cake is toasted, turning once.

To serve, push fruit and cake from skewers onto dessert plates. Drizzle with the warm chocolate sauce.   Makes 6 servings.