Thursday, April 08, 2010

The aroma of baked chicken on a cold day

Brrrr...  after a day of off and on storms, the cold front came through (literally with a bang).  I knew it was going to get chilly again but the shock of a windchill back in the 30s left me shivering as I walked to the county road for my newspaper.  It is weather like this in the Midwest that has caused my husband all the years of our marriage to say we're moving to San Diego (or another place where the meteorologists can become bored).

Later today, I plan to watch the West Ladies' herb DVD again... while I want to learn about the herbs, it is also just fun to watch and a good way to take a break from housework.  Yes, their videos are outstanding and even the music videos are of excellent quality.  Every Franklin Springs video I've seen is of such high quality. 

A chicken is in the oven... stuffed only with half a rather large onion, drizzled with olive oil, and sprinkled with both salt and Mrs. Dash's lemon pepper.  The white meat is destined for a chicken casserole this evening, a promise to my son for dinner should he be able to come home in time.  The remainder of the chicken (along with the onion stuffing and any good "drippings") will be placed in a stock pot for a very welcome chicken soup.  Nothing fancy... just the chicken stock, dark meat, and a handful of brown rice... perhaps a squirt of lemon... all sounding wonderful when it is cold and one has the sniffles.

Speaking of food and such, I stated reading Molly Wizenberg's book A Homemade Life: Stories and Recipes from My Kitchen Table. Not only did it survive the first few chapters but I couldn't put it down.  I was reading it just before midnight last night and finished it this morning. (Reading in the daytime is a luxury which comes when your children grow up.)

Now, there are a few instances of mild "language" but never the foul vulgarity found in Julie & Julia (which, if you have read here for long, you will know I find one of the worst books ever and returned it to the library after two or three chapters).  She admits to being "nonreligious" but not in an offensive way.

Molly, in sharing her life and how she came to start her blog (Orangette) does talk about a few romantic encounters through the years... before meeting her husband... and they lived together before their wedding.  While not my lifestyle, she does not go into detail or become vulgar as in the previously mentioned book.  Nor does she have the loose morals of Alice Walter's in her hippy lifestyle which one reads about (over and over) in her biography.

What one does come away with is a love for food and the realization of how food can be such an integral part of all our relationships, especially family and close friends.  Here is an excerpt from the beginning of her book:

"When I walk into my kitchen today, I am not alone.  Whether we know it or not, none of us is.  We bring fathers and mother and kitchen tables, and every meal we have ever eaten.  Food is never just food.  It's also a way of getting at something else: who we are, who we have been, and who we want to be."

As soon as I read that paragraph, I knew this woman felt the same way I did about food and recipes and how I associate those who have gone from my life (whether through death or having moved to another state) with their recipes.  She is an excellent writer and I do recommend the book with the above cautions.  Some can read it and overlook her personal life, others cannot.

Stephanie was telling me recently what items she will be moving in their van to keep them safe.  I reminded her that one of the objects I always kept with me (and never allowed on a moving van) was the recipe box that held our most important family recipes.  I do have two other recipe boxes, one which holds recipes I don't use often (but want to keep) and the other which contains Taste of Home recipe "cards".  But the box which held the important recipes came along with me, usually sitting beside my purse where I could keep an eye on them.  :)

I have mentioned before that my in-law's were critical people and my husband's memories are not always pleasant.  However, the exception to this was dinner time and his mother's cooking.  I must admit when I think of them, it is almost always at that table in the "breakfast room" addition... looking out on their backyard.  I thought of my mother-in-law as I pulled out the casserole recipe this morning for she was the "queen of casseroles".

My own mother comes to mind when I fry chicken or make her vegetable soup... and on those rare times we eat at our favorite cafeteria, which mom loved.  We were just talking about her recently when we saw a commercial for the cafeteria, how in all the years she went there she ordered the same items off the menu.  :)

Making candy brings the remembrance of Bonnie's mother-in-law and her homemade candy each Christmas... even though she passed away long before Christopher was born.  For food memories are among the strongest and longlasting.

That is the message of the book and it made me want to take the recipe card file to the coffee table, along with a hot cup of tea... and go down memory lane... with the recipes of others and my own from long ago when our family was younger.  :)


Mrs.Rabe said...

One project that I have been wanting to work on - perhaps this summer - is to take all our favorite recipes and make recipe notebooks for my children. One of my daughters has already been working on copying the recipes for her own use here at home!

I will need to get the 3 West Ladies Videos that I don't have...I use them as home ec for my kids here at our homeschool!

Sorry it's cold there - though your casserole and soup sound wonderful. We are to get that cold front tonight.

Kristi in the Western Reserve said...

Ah, Brenda, I'm glad you are enjoying the Molly book. I have it out from the library right now, and am enjoying it myself. I also have from the library her cookbook Honest Pretzels which is about cooking with children, while I dream of projects I can do with my grandchildren. Nathan is just getting to that age.

Barbara said...

Last summer I retyped my family's favourite recipes, printed copies and arranged them in inexpensive photo albums (The plastic protects the recipes from spatters.) for my grown up sons to have.
I also made a copy for myself since the old cards were pretty banged up.

Vee said...

Yes, so true about food and people and even now just as I can size up a dress style as belonging to this one or that one, I do the same with recipes just as you did here. Interesting. And I always remember events by the food we ate...the picnic with the fried chicken...the baby shower with the Beaumonde dip...ha! The book you review sounds intriguing and so I'll add it to my growing list.

jilly said...

Even though it is about 78 degrees, sunny, with a soft breeze here in San Diego today(that one is for your hubby)and I needed to turn on the ceiling fan, your mention of home cooked chicken, sent me right to the freezer to get one out to defrost. We will be having crock pot chicken tomorrow;-)

I noticed the location of your oven. I lived in an apartment with the oven facing the living room. I miss that. My back is now facing the living room. It was comforting in an odd way.

Enjoy your chicken.


Cynthia said...

Thank you for posting regarding Edith and Jewels. Both of these women are two precious pearls. I was so very sad years ago when I first read Edith's books only to discover I could not write her, as she had already passed onto glory.
Jewels blog, even though she hasn't posted lately, her wisdom is timeless. I never tire of revisiting her old posts for a dose of encouragement. It was a delight to read your shared warm regard for these fine ladies. Thank you and God Bless, Cynthia

Anonymous said...


Thank you for this blog. I always feel uplifted when I come here in the early morning and read about your days. You have a similar taste in books as I do. I love Edith Schaeffer's books and currently have "What is a Family?" in my to be read pile.

I enjoyed Molly's book as well. Some of her recipes are fantastic! I had to return my copy to the library because there was a long wait list but I'm looking forward to borrowing it again so I can cook my way through it.

I have many old family recipes as well as cookbooks from my mother and both of my grandmothers which I cherish.

I have broth to make from my left leg of lamb we had on Easter. Your kitchen sounds a lot like mine. :)


Heather L. said...

Speaking of recipe files, I called to make sure my grandmother's card file was saved for me after her death, only to discover I was just minutes or an hour or two LATE from having it thrown out. It always makes my heart sink just thinking about it.... oh well. I do have the other grandmother's...

Jennifer, Snapshot said...

Brenda--I popped over here because of your comment on the 10 Million Words blog about Julie and Julia. The movie did have a lot of bad language etc, but don't let that influence your opinion of the movie. The movie is SO good -- and yes, tells the story of Julia Child as well as Julie Powell. The movie has only one or two curse words (I think!), and two very very mild "love scenes" -- both between married people.

Mrs. Staggs said...

I read the Molly Wizenberg book too and enjoyed it very much, and I enjoyed Julie and Julia, despite the language at times, but not as much.

I think about relatives and friends so often when cooking. Pineapple Upside Down Cake always reminds me of my grandma, and when I often think about the cakes that my mom used to bake for our afternoon snacks too. Sometimes, I tire of cooking, but your reminder of the happy memories cooking creates has me thinking that I should keep more focus on that aspect of cooking. I think I will enjoy it more, perhaps.