Monday, November 03, 2008

Down memory lane via favorite foods

Both the guys were gone all day today so once the dishes were done, the kitchen cleaned, floors swept, and the rest of the house given a quick going over... I spent the afternoon on the sofa watching cooking shows (trying to rest my way out of this infection). While watching Paula Deen make fried green tomatoes and beef roast, I found myself going down memory lane via favorite foods and recipes.

I can't even think of green tomatoes without fond memories of my brother-in-law, Delane. How often I would visit he and my sister in late summer and be offered tomatoes from his abundant crop. He always planted more than they needed and he always made sure I received some green tomatoes along with those that had fully ripened. Remember... I was raised by a Southern woman. While the rest of the family never acquired a taste for them, I loved their tart taste and Delane... well, my Alabama born brother-in-law would tell us fried green tomatoes is the food of kings.

Delane's wife, my sister Joan, was known throughout the family for her chicken tetrazzini. When we realized she was near death, we panicked and wondered if anyone had been given her secret recipe. Thankfully, Jean had written it down and no one in the family was offended as we all wanted it.

When Jean was visiting, she treated me to dinner at our favorite cafeteria (a lovely and comfortable place to visit) where we both opted for fried chicken... in honor of our mother. Mom always chose the fried chicken when she ate at the cafeteria, along with "cooked to death" green beans, potatoes, and a cream pie. We talked about Mom's famous fried chicken that she cooked (what can I say, she was from Kentucky) and her signature dessert of banana pudding made with vanilla wafers. We miss her.

Jean and I talked a lot about food and family. Each time she visits, I learn something I didn't know before (or hadn't remembered). It helps having a sister twenty years older than yourself. I knew my father had made my breakfast before I went to school that day he died. I didn't remember that he had made me sausage gravy and biscuits. I thought of him this morning as I made the very same breakfast (something I don't allow myself very often as it is not exactly health food).

My daughter is a talented and creative cook and when I see an amazing salad, I think of her. She can assemble a salad that is a work of art. Although I have taken gourmet cooking classes in my youth, my attempts at gourmet salads end with sprinkling feta cheese on top. Even her Dad misses her salads and he's a "meat and potato" kinda' guy.

I've mentioned quite often that my mother-in-law was the "casserole queen". I think of her when I make Holiday Spaghetti or her Chicken Casserole. I also think of her when I use a Pillsbury Pie Crust. She was famous for her pies and quite proud of her achievements with flaky crust but one day I saw... gasp... a Pillsbury Pie Crust in her frig. She smiled and told me she'd begun using them (and frozen pie crusts) for convenience and no one noticed the difference. That's all I needed to give me permission to use them, too.

I'm not sure what my children will remember from my kitchen. Perhaps those dishes I make most often... round roast slow cooked in cream of mushroom soup, Holiday Spaghetti (like Grandma), vegetable soup (like Mamaw), or perhaps the famous "something with ground beef" dinners which come out different every time. They will certainly remember my cookies and the many goodies I made in My Precious.

I'm not sure why I found myself going down a culinary memory lane today. However, I'm very glad I did. Most of these precious ones are gone now and when I serve the guys one of their recipes, it is like they are still among us... and I'm hoping my mother's fried chicken will be served at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. :)

Picture :Apple Pie Harvest, Janet Kruskamp;


ru4real @ Healthy Life said...

Fried green tomatoes ... mmmmm! I'm a deep south girl, and I DO enjoy green tomatoes fried. What a sweet memory you have of your family through the tastes they enjoyed!

In recent years, I've learned to enjoy green tomatoes grilled or broiled with a little olive oil and sprinkled with some season salt. I often cook this in my toaster oven. It's easy, and it's a great side dish for beef.

Becky K. said...

That was a neat post.

My Dad and I used to sing with a small group that traveled locally representing the Radio Station he worked for. Often the Churches would provide a meal for us. Daddy would proclaim one dish from each meal something that he was requesting to be made at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Thanks for inspiring that memory.


Becky K.

freetobeme - Anita said...

This is a delightful post!

freetobeme - Anita said...
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Vee ~ A Haven for Vee said...

Often I remember people or events by the foods associated with them. I'll remember where I first tasted a particular dish. For some, it's scent; for some, music; for me, it's tastebuds. :D

Lovely post! I've never had fried green tomatoes and now I'm wondering what I'm missing.

Clif said...

What can I say? All that talk about food is almost more than I can take. I should have just stopped reading--but I couldn't. I'm from Oklahoma and the food you talked about is what I grew up eating. I'm a diabetic and the lady teaching a class on health once said to the class of diabetics, "I guess you will not be eating anymore sauage." Little did she know!

Kelly said...

This was a delightful post. I have many fond memories that involve a recipe made by someone I love(d). Sadly, my grandmother didn't write any of her recipes down, and when I asked her once, she said she wouldn't even know how because she didn't use exact measurements either, she just knew what ingredients she was using and made her recipes. I really wish I would have her walnut pie recipe. It was really good! I am glad that I did manage to get her fudge recipe and her pumpkin pie recipe. I miss my grandma; I had fun cooking with her in my teen years.

moreofhim said...

First, I must tell you that I love your blog. It makes me feel happy and blessed and I have it on my favorites list!

I love your thoughts of food and who they remind you of. I, too, learned to cook from my Southern Grandma and we had lots of fried green tomatoes (yummy!!), cinnamon rolls, and other such deliciousness. You also reminded me that I need to document these many recipes to pass down to my children. So much of it is in my head.

Thank you for your beautiful blog. It truly blesses me!

God bless you ~ Julie