Thursday, January 17, 2013

Recipes and Memories

Can go hand in hand. Did y'all know that?

For example, whenever I make chicken pot pie or chicken and dumplings or a cake or homemade bread/biscuits, I remember my grandmother- my mother's mother. It's certain that I do not come anywhere near the quality of her making/baking, but the memories that come with the preparation of these (and a few other) recipes almost make up for their lacking in that area. The times spent in the kitchen with my grandmother have always been some of my most favorite memories.

Then there are the times when I (used to) make Rice-A-Roni (the San Francisco treat...haha) or sautee mushrooms and the memory of the first time I had those with Aunt Betty. I had never heard of Rice-A-Roni (Mother made everything from scratch just like Grandmother did) and I said that I didn't like mushrooms. Aunt Betty was always the one who tried to get me to try something I'd never had before just to see if I liked it. I've been eating mushrooms ever since. It also reminds me of the first time Deanie made Rice-A-Roni years was crunchy. Ha! None of us have used Rice-A-Roni in so many years that I don't even know if they make it anymore, but what fond memories I have because of it.

Every time I burn something or a dish turns out badly, I am reminded of the husband's mother. She was a writer; a poet; a walk-the-walk Christian; a lover of the arts and PBS and Christmas. She was not a cook. But she did it anyway- regardless of the end product's taste, looks or appeal. 

My attempts at homemade lemon cake and Christmas eggnog brings back memories of my dad's mother. She, too, made everything from scratch. Her lemon cake was to die for. I remember her eggnog at Christmas. It wasn't the kind that we kids could partake of, but the adults used to crack us up arguing over whether or not there was enough alcohol in it. Not usually won out. Though most of my memories of GrandMoore center around reading, creating, and playing games, anything lemony and with rum will take me right back.

Making the homemade goodies at Christmas- fudge, cheese and olive balls, sausage balls, etc.- bring back memories of my mother making these wonders every single year. Our table would be filled with every kind of Christmas delight you could possibly think of and I loved walking around and around that table taking one of everything over and over again. I make these same treats every year and revel in the memories of Christmases past.

Saturday morning breakfasts of French toast or scrambled eggs with cheese or grilling out take me back to my dad being in the kitchen or grilling. He loves to cook to this day but, when I was growing up, he mostly did it on Saturday mornings and/or evenings. And I loved it when he cooked. I know he had a special recipe for the French toast but I can never get a straight answer from him. I mean, it's a straight answer, it's just never the same answer. His cheese eggs I can make, they just don't taste as good. And nobody grills as good as my dad. Although my brother does get close.

There are so many memories that center around food in our family. But I believe that most of the fondness comes from the preparation time instead of the actual food itself- although the food was always incredible. It was the time spent with some of the most special people in my life. People who made a difference. People who taught me how to appreciate the value of conversation and taking time to do things the right way. People who taught me to value, appreciate and take pride in a job well done. People who showed me the inner strength, compassion, independence and unconditional love of the women in the family (yep, even my dad who was taught the very same thing by his dad). People who taught me the value of a family. The love of a family. The never-ending support of a family.

Teachable moments were never missed in my family.

Where do your recipes take you?


  1. Like a Jim Croce song only better.

  2. You know until I read this post, I never thought about food and memories. It is really true though. I had to laugh at your Rice-a-Roni story. I haven't fixed it in years and just recently someone asked for it so I picked some up. I was standing and cooking it and this memory came as I stood there. After my Mom died my Dad would try and cook dinner when he got home from work. The only thing he knew how to cook was Rice-A-Roni. Every night. He would get home from work and he would cook that and that is what we ate for dinner. At first it was fun but then night after night it got kind of old. We must have said something about it to my Grandmother because it got to be that we would go to her house every night after that to have dinner. I couldn't eat Rice-A-Roni for years. I can eat a tiny bit now but it isn't my favorite, the kids always ask me why I don't fix it as they love it, I have never had the heart to tell them. So yes, it does bring back memories. I am so glad yours are filled with such love and happiness. This post even felt like love.
    Really nice and I love lemon cake too.

  3. Recipes are definitely linked with generations of family in our house. Our gourmet group works around a theme each month and in May, in honor of Mother's Day, we're all making something our mothers made. I think it will be fun to see what we get...hopefully not too many tuna noodle casseroles topped with potato chips-ha!

  4. Gail- Jim Croce. Lordy, I haven't thought of him in YEARS!

    Kim- What a bittersweet story. I have a few of those too but I try to keep them at bay because I just don't do well with them. I feel quite blessed that I have more happy, comforting memories to accompany my triggers than not. I would just be a total mess otherwise. Thank you so much, as always, for sharing your heart and your kindness.

    Joyce- Birdie and I just laughed and laughed at your tuna noodle casserole statement! How funny would that be?! I hope you're planning to post about the May meeting.

  5. Oh! Rice-a-roni...yes! I loved that stuff. I think I wanted my mom to buy it just because of the TV ad. I had that little tune in my head as soon as I read your post. I'll have it there for a while. Thanks!

    I agree that the food prep has more memories than the eating. I remember my mom's great dishes and even more, I remember her not-so-successes. I wonder why that is. She was a good family cook but not dedicated to it. Like her daughter, she enjoyed making muffins and trying new recipes. A new recipe was always an adventure for her - and us. Glad you gave me a bunch of warm memories this morning...thanks.

  6. Stephanie- The only time I ever got it growing up was at Aunt Betty's. I used to make it for the lovelies though. They loved it too. I don't think my mom ever had anything not be successful...but I do remember the dishes I did NOT like at all. I hated about three different things that she just never stopped making. UGH. She's made them a couple of times in the last ten years and I still hate them. But the lovelies, they LOVE them. Go figure! Sorry about the tune in your head but I figure, if it's in mine, it may as well be in someone elses too. LOL So glad you had some warm memories from the post!

  7. A great post! Macaroni and cheese made from scratch is our comfort recipe. Also when my oldest daughter came home at Christmas I got to make rice pudding.

  8. Hi Pam. I thought this was a wonderful post. I know you've talked about your grandma before. Really heartwarming memories my friend.

  9. You are so right I can definitely link recipes to family. I so loved this post :)

  10. I am currently putting together the recipes I inherited from my grandmother for my children to have. the working title is Recipes and memories of Grandmothers kitchen. In trying to work through her recipes each one had a memory attached to it, I decided to include those memories next to the recipe for my children to have. For them it's the memories of her thinking of them specifically that makes the foods special.. For instance, when she baked her sour cream breads she would layer cinnamon and sugar through the middle and then on top. But for my boys they each received their own small loaf my eldest's loaf contained heath bits and my youngest had mini M&M's in his with just the sugar and cinnamon topping. Each time they received a loaf, I received a loaf of the original recipe because "they shouldn't have to share theirs with their friends".

  11. I have several of my paternal grandmothers recipes she wrote by hand stored in my box. I take them out at read them periodically just to look at her lovely handwriting and remember being in her kitchen. Creole cooking in New Orleans...she was quite the cook!
    Great post...thanks!


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