I drank a bottle of motor oil. It was the 70’s.

Our family used to have a cottage outside of a little town called Calabogie in Ontario.  When I say cottage I mean shack.  Not an estate, not a home away from home, not a house that happened to be situated on  a lake.  I mean a very small cabin that was probably built by the 4th little pig.  The one who built his house out of cobwebs and farts.

The drive to the cottage was around 5 hours but that didn’t bother me one bit.  It was a simpler time when kids bounced around in the back of station wagons like tennis balls and the most popular booster seat on the market was a case of beer.

The cottage was dusty, dirty, and dangerous.  There was no electricity, no water and no bathroom but there was one out of date Playboy calendar. Or as I believe they were called then – nudie calendars. 

Back then a cottage was a place where parents could smoke, drink and send their kids into the probably murderer infested forest to hunt for anything to keep them occupied. Rocks, shells, and twigs were some of the things parents demanded we look for;  allowing them valuable time for more smoking and drinking.

If you’ve been paying attention you’ll have noticed that there was no drinking water at the cottage, and lots of beer.

What was there for a 4 year old Karen to drink? There was beer, dirty river water or the yellowing paper nipple of a faded Playmate. Those were my options after a hot day of eating Bugles and looking for sticks in the 1970’s.

I knew I wasn’t allowed to drink beer or the dirty water and I was pretty sure that nipple had long dried up.

Damnit I was thirsty, thought my 4 year old self.  But since the adults around the cottage this particular day had also been quite thirsty, no one seemed to care or notice that the salty, crunchy, delicious corn chippy tasting Bugles had left me parched.  In fact they probably didn’t even notice that I existed.

The grown ups had more important things on their mind.  Like arguing over who drank the booster seat.

In a miraculous turn of events I found myself a bottle of delicious Coca Cola and I drank it down.  I drank all of it down.  

Turns out it wasn’t filled with Coke but instead with dirty old motor oil.  

It also turns out I couldn’t tell the difference between the taste of a bottle of Coke and dirty motor oil at that age. My palate has progressed significantly since then and I can almost always tell the difference between motor oil and Coke (unless it’s in a marinade which always trips me up).

When everyone finally realized what I’d done, my grandfather, who was a dentist, jumped into action and grabbed himself another beer.  The he sat on the porch, told everyone to zip it and relax.  I’d be fine.  Nothing to worry about.

 I still don’t know if it was because he was way smarter than everyone else, or just way drunker.  Either way I lived through the ordeal with the only side effect being I crave Bugles every time I get an oil change.

The point of this is that eating one wrong thing isn’t going to kill you.  Unless it’s Russian poison, in which case it definitely will.

Actually I think the real point is that our generation is tough. We are beer case booster seat, motor oil drinking tough.

Kids today cry when they can’t find a phone charger.

Us? We got electrocuted every time we chewed a piece of gum with a bit of foil wrapper on it.

This latest generation might be technologically advanced and infinitely more mature than we were at the same age.

But they never would have survived a 1970’s summer. 

Have a good summer weekend and stay safe. But not too safe, because that never makes a good story.


  1. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    OMG Karen..you must have been one tough kid..lol..if that happened today people would panic and be calling in a helicopter to fly you to the nearest hospital..the most exciting food thing I did as a kid was stick a peanut up my nose and I guess it kinda liked it there cause it didn’t want to come back out..I think the big question here is ..where is motor oil on the Doctor’s list??

  2. Laura Bee says:

    I remember sitting on a case of beer in the back of a pick up going down the back roads where I grew up. We had to take turns sitting on the wheel humps. :)

    Thanks for the info through the laughter!.

  3. Jennie Lee says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to see you mention Dr. Fuhrman. I highly recommend his “nutritarian ” diet, as set forth in his book “Eat to Live”. His diet is, I think, the most scientifically sensible one around, and very simple. Using it, at the age of 60, I reached my weight goal of 125 for the first time in my life. I’d been dieting for over 42 years.

  4. marcia says:

    It’s nice to know that something I actually like to eat is high up on that ANDI list. I’m off to wash a container of 182’s, off the fruit list, for my afternoon nosh! Feeling healthier already. Thanks, Karen!

  5. Hahaha. I like your conclusions. If you don’t mind, I’ll skip the motor oil cocktail. :-D

  6. Jamieson says:

    Did my phone display cut off the end of this post? I can’t see any motor oil recipes and now I have a craving that just won’t SToP.

  7. Paula says:

    Brussel Sprouts ANDI score = 490. I looked it up on Dr. Fuhrman’s website, since the Whole Foods list isn’t interested in Brussels Sprouts, either. So, for those of us who truly appreciate the deliciousness of a beautifully caramelized roasted Brussel Sprout, munch away!

    • judy says:

      how do you prepare them? I keep seeing huge bags of them at Costco but every person who ever told me that their recipe would make me like them were ackkkkkkk………………… wrong

      • Grammy says:

        Judy, I have always loved them, but tried the roasting that everyone raves about and thought they were awful that way., even though I love most veggies roasted. I just barely cover the sprouts in a saucepan with water, bring it to a boil, reduce heat and simmer them until just tender when pierced with a fork. They will be bright, fresh green. Drain, toss them with a little butter (very little) and salt.

      • Paula says:

        Honestly, the most important thing is that they’re fresh. Chances are, if you had a bad Brussel Sprout experience, they were either overcooked or not fresh to begin with. Not sure about the Costco ones, but a huge bag means you won’t get around to cooking them all without them laying around for a long time, getting all stinky and nasty (unless you’ve got an entire army to feed). I like to get them at the farmer’s market, preferably still on the stalk, but it’s not absolutely necessary. You just cut them off, coat them with olive oil, add salt and pepper to taste, and roast them in the oven. Simple is best, especially if you’re starting with great produce. If done right, the outside should be brown and crispy, and the interior almost creamy. Yum!

    • Karin says:


  8. Heather says:

    Long, long ago in a galaxy far, far away my parents & I went out to dinner at some restaurant when I would have been maybe 7 or 8 years old. They ordered me a 7UP (no Sprite in those days) & it came with a lovely cherry on a cocktail pick. I ate the cherry & said “that tastes strange.” I took a sip of the drink & said “that doesn’t taste like 7UP”. My Dad takes a sip; “that’s turpentine!” A restaurant storing turpentine in a 7UP bottle. & the waiter picking the wrong bottle!

    Now, if this was recent there would have been law suits galore, health board inspections. Nah, I got a real 7UP & they maybe comped us a meal – don’t know. I survived (I didn’t drink much of the offending liquid.)

    Yes, Karen, where are the missing brussel sprouts?

  9. Karin says:

    That’s a great story! I guess I’m in the minority when I say I like kale. Hate eggplant, though. Hmph. Weird.

    • Grammy says:

      Perhaps a minority, but I like to think we’re the best ones. I love kale, although I’ve only ever eaten it cooked. I also love Brussels Sprouts. I like to mention that whenever possible here because Karen is a big baby about how much she doesn’t like Brussels Sprouts, so I imagine her twisting up her face whenever we say it.

      • Karin says:

        Brussels Sprouts? LOVE them! I’m with ya Grammy! We have a local store here in NC that sells a pre-made salad that has both raw kale and raw Brussels sprouts and it is FANTASTIC! Thanks for having my back Grammy!

  10. marilyn says:

    kale to me is like brussel sprouts to you…a big fat ugh!!

  11. Mary Werner says:

    McDonald’s french fries were said to be The French Chef’s favorite food and she lived into her 90’s. Loved watching Julia Child and her idea to eat with lots of variety just don’t overdo. At our cottage in Wisconsin, we caught BIG frogs from under the row boat. After tying a string around its leg, it became my pet for a week. At night the kids would go to sleep in the hammock while the adults drank booster chairs and we listened to all the stories and laughter. I got up to go to bed and yawned really big in front of my Grandpa while showing him my latest pet – and it jumped in my mouth. Lucky I had a string on its’ leg to pull him out. Motor oil, frog pee, hide under the desk if being attacked by the A-bomb – kids had it made in the 50’s. Radish’s? I thought they were just a way to eat more salt! I love Kale when it is baked until crisp with salt and a bit of olive oil. Really takes the place of chips for the kids – don’t knock it until you try it! I DO NOT eat it any other way, YUCK.

    • Karen says:

      Mary, I hope you are doing well. Love your memories

      • Mary W says:

        I’m doing great with my 10lb Rona gift of fat. Lucky my garden is growing now and I can begin life again. I’ve since heard that roasting garlic is a different experience than just raw used for scooping up salt. Still love your take on our world with my coffee each morning. I’m just slower to move while hauling the Rona gift around – yea, for gardening and radishes! I never thought they had anything nutritious inside that pretty red skin.

  12. ~JackieVB says:

    I had to do a search on broccoflower – so now I know what that is. I thought it was going to be something like broccolini. And I’m shocked that Cauliflower is more nutrient dense than a sweet potato. Just shocked I tell you.

  13. Jody says:

    Where do Brussels sprouts fit in the list? I’d they’re not on the list guess I don’t have to eat them.

  14. Grace says:

    I found a bottle of coke as a kid that was oil too! But I realised it wasn’t coke after one sip. What was up with storing oil in drink bottles anyways??

    • Jessica says:

      Same here! I was in middle school though and attempting to sneak Coke I know my mom wouldn’t want me to have. Jerks!

  15. Tigermom says:

    “I mean a very small cabin that was probably built by the 4th little pig. The one who built his house out of cobwebs and farts.”


    Thanks as always for the useful info and the laughs.

  16. Ev Wilcox says:

    Hmmm, noticed the absence of Brussels sprouts on that list. Did SOMEONE alter that list?

  17. Su says:

    I don’t care how good Kale is for you…. still don’t like it. Pass the Bugles please

  18. Darlene Cox says:

    Hi Karen
    We haven’t seen nor heard about the girls for awhile. How are they???

    • Karen says:

      They’re good Darlene! An update on Cuddles coming up next week and another chicken post in another few weeks. :) ~ karen!

  19. Kim says:

    Do you think the consumption of that motor oil may have something to do with how smoothly you tackle and complete all the wonderful Stuff you do? LOL You have brought back memories of going to our “camp” as a family when I was a child. I am from down east so it’s called a camp. I remember fetching the adult beverages from the cold brook for them and my sneakers being sucked off in the mud, sitting on porcupine quills which can penetrate thick jeans, being bit so bad by black flies I bled, being afraid that when using the outhouse there might be something down the hole that would bite my ass……ahhh…such fond memories! Thanks Karen!!! (I did really have a wonderful time there)

  20. Jack Ledger says:

    I certainly can appreciate your reflections on cottage life in Calabogie having experienced that time on a daily basis for many years as a child. The beauty of that day is that, as children, we were given free reign, long before the time when “helicopter” parenting became the norm. And we made it regardless of our penchant for “self-lubricating”. And truthfully, we all had a wonderful time save for the occasional alcohol induced parental “dust-ups.” Let’s hear it for the “50’s”!!

  21. SK Farm Girl says:

    I have a tear in me eye after reading your reminiscent story of visiting the cottage as a youngster! It brought back fond (and very similar) memories of my own experiences at my Grandma’s cottage when just a wee lass myself! We didn’t have a motor oil issue, but there was the time my younger brother took enough sips of everyone’s “booster seat beverage” to successfully get his four-year-old self drunk! GASP!!! The horror – I know – that a young child be given sips of “booster seat beverage”! But hey, it was the early 70’s and those big blue eyes of his, hooded with female-envy-kind-of luscious long lashes looking all cross-eyed waaaaaaaay down the end of that stubby brown bottle being so carefully clutched in his chubby little hands while his teeth were clenched over the neck of the bottle and with great excitement waited for the cold bitter beverage to hit his taste buds must have been pretty damn cute! I mean really, there’s nothing much funnier than a little kid taking a swig out of a beer bottle except maybe when that same kid drops the f-bomb (in perfect context I might add) just as Grandma sits down next to him the next day at breakfast! Yup – 42 years later his beverage of choice is still a “booster seat beverage” and he still drops the f-bomb but he does devour Swiss chard, loves fresh radishes and raids my strawberry patch whenever he comes to visit!

  22. LeeAnn says:

    Haha…Love it! I was also an adventurous eater. I ate one of those green mosquito coils when I was a kid. What could be more appealing than a bright green twirly thing?

  23. Grammy says:

    Thank you, Karen, for telling us about the drinking a bottle of motor oil incident. It explains so much.

    As for the nutrient density list, I think the good doctor meant it is okay to eat an entire bag of potato chips (not corn chips), as long as you wash them down with Pepsi and not motor oil. That’s how I read it, anyway.

  24. Lynn says:

    I agree every day it seems like they are telling us eat this or that , stop eating this . Confusing is a understatement to say the least . My personal motto if you want to call it that is this ( eat fresh , eat well , eat what you like ). If you do not over indulge an you can eat less processed foods you will be happy an healthier . No I am not a health nut I just have never enjoyed eating a lot of processed foods . Much to hubby’s dismay . He is a big foodie loves to eat out …

  25. Dominic says:

    At least I’m a big fan of greens & Swiss Chard. Kale can suck it though, if I want to taste dirt, I’ll just eat dirt.
    Is there an alcohol based list? Wondering where Samuel Adams and Bulleit Rye 95 land…

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