Week 22: Family Recipes: Family recipes are about more than just food. They provide sights, smells and memories of family history. Which family recipe are you most thankful for? Who was the first person to make it, and how was the recipe handed down through the generations? Has the recipe stayed the same all these years?
Many of my friends talk about a traditional dish they have for such and such holiday. Their memories over the table and how making it reminds them of those special times. Well, I seem to have an unusual family because there has never been many of those type moments. My grandmother Combs always had a large family Christmas dinner until I was about 10 or 11. Then kids started moving away and doing their own things. By the time I was in college it was a simple affair with maybe 4-5 people. We never had the same thing on the table two years running... except we always had turkey.
Some of my other friends have regaled me with stories of how a recipe was passed down through x number of generations and how marvelous it is. That is cool, that is not my family either. I think the oldest recipe I have in my collection is a simple roll recipe that was my great-grandmother Arvin's. I could be mistaken on the source however.
When I think of food, family history, and those moments that I am most thankful for they usually involve birthday cake or great dinners in fantastic restaurants (many in Europe). Seriously. My mother doesn't cook, she has burned water in the past. My dad was an experimenter in the kitchen. You know the type. He opened the fridge looked in it and started throwing things into a pot/skillet and that was dinner. My grandmothers cooked meat and potato style farm dinners, really filling and artery clogging all at the same time. Gosh they were good!
A few of my favorite, once in a while, meals I could request on demand from my father where Frito Pie and Irish Stew. I talked about Frito Pie in this blog post. Irish stew, as my father called it, was a variation on a Shepard's Pie. It was ground meat (usually hamburger, but I have made it with lamb) that is browned with onions. To that you add veggies like potatoes, carrots and peas. Put a fair amount of water on it to boil and then drop homemade (okay they were usually Bisquick) dumplings on top. Cover and let it steam until the dumpling/biscuits are done. It was best on day two or three. When I get to feeling bad and need comfort food this is what I crave!
*Image Library of Congress: Escambia Farms, Florida. Mrs. McLelland cooking fried chicken for Sunday dinner
*photo credit: Nomadic Lass via photo pin cc