Sunday, December 19, 2010

Food for Thought: A Day in My Kitchen

I think I spent the majority of today in the kitchen (verses the laundry room--that was last night).  We started the day off with my favorite pancake recipe and my husband cooked up some Goetta.  (If you haven't tried Goetta, it is awesome!)  I love the way my hubby cooks it up--just a bit crisp on the outside.)  After that, I started working on an Italian Chick Pea and Pasta soup with pancetta.  This was followed by homemade tomato sauce, homemade meatballs (both recipes from my Nana), baking and icing cut out cookies, and then Buckeyes. (I still need to dip them in chocolate but my hubby kicked me out of the kitchen and told me I had to stop).  I still plan to make several more cookie recipes, two of which were family recipes and are traditions at Christmas.

This was my day in the kitchen today, but for me, it is more than just about today.  Working in the kitchen conjures up thoughts of days gone past.  When I make these foods that my mother and father, grandmother (Nana), and aunt made, I feel connected with these people.  I have great memories of making some of these recipes with my mother or gobbling them down at my Nana's house in West Virginia the few times a year we visited.

Through these traditional recipes, I am able to connect my daughters with the past.  When we are in the kitchen, covered in flour from kneading bread, I share the stories I know about Nana or stories about my own mother.  I can take them back to a time when life was very different than today. 

As I knead my dough, I often wonder what my Nana's life was like and what her thoughts were as she kneaded her bread or rolled her meatballs.  What was life like for her coming to America at a young age and learning a new language and a new way of life?  How did she feel about her arranged marriage with an older man?  Was she scared when she became a mother at 15?  What were her dreams?  Did she ever imagine that one day, three generations later, someone would be using her recipes?

My thoughts return to the present.  Will my girls some day share these recipes with their children?  Will they remember how we made bread every Christmas and Easter?  Will one of them be an owner of a Pizelle iron?  Will they share our stories with their children?  Will they find the connection that I have found?

I am really glad that I did have some time to talk to my Nana before she died about her past and heard some of her stories.  I wish I had lived closer so I could have collected more.  But as it is now, I only have the few stories and a handful of recipes.  But that is enough to keep her memory alive for me and hopefully for generations in the future.

Disclosure:  I am not Superwoman, I did get help from my loving husband (he's probably just in a hurry for the meatballs to be done!) and my two wonderful daughters who enjoy getting in the way as well as getting sprinkles all over the kitchen.


Elizabeth Newlin said...

I feel a strong connection between generations through recipes also. I am compelled to gather my recipes and the ones I've learned from family and friends to pass on. It's an easy, lovely, history. :D

Nancy M. said...

I often wonder about things I never got to ask those who have passed on. At least we have some memories of time spent with them.

Trace said...

This is a beautiful post. Wonderfully written and I felt like I was in your kitchen yesterday with you. And I will be in just a few days. Thanks for sharing!

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