Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Passing Down Memories through Food, Recipes and More

So my new blog location is now all ready to go. I've gotten the domain known as www.livingrichlyinretirement.com (after all I'm still frugal but not a Texas gal), chosen at least a temporary website, and will probably go live soon. My only problem to resolve is how to migrate the content on this site to that one, and if I can do it myself.  Please feel free to let me know any thoughts on that one. Other than that I've been happy with Wordpress, it's easy to use and I'm looking forward to sharing my new blog with you all.

Many year ago, I was temporarily living with my very new in-laws while my husband was in Japan  (my thirty something was a mere four). One afternoon my mother in law came up and hesitatingly asked me, if I by any chance ate calves liver.  Being me, my answer was, " I love calves liver"!".  Strange, I know!  She was thrilled.  

It turns out, you see, that my father in law (J)loves lamb, but hates liver. My mother in law (B) cannot touch the lamb (she was raised in Guatemala in her teens and it would seem she had a bad experience. She also does not eat bananas or plantains as her step father ran a banana plantation).  They had regular routine-she made lamb chops for him, calves liver for her, and then cooked piles of onions, sauteed spinach and potatoes.  I of course could have chosen either option, but being a liver lover, preferred to keep my B company. 

 After that, we moved to Washington and then to Germany.  We had liver (especially in German restaurants), but it was never like hers, and as health guidelines have changed, limited myself to once every six months. After all, as my sister says, it is gout food. My son was never tempted to partake, in any way.

When I moved to Texas after my husband died, I now had a high school/college student. Before long, I was getting a call from B asking what I was doing on Friday night,  and inviting son and self to dinner because she had gotten really good liver.  The first time, they offered to  cook something else for my son. I said no way, and since he was at his grandparents, he ate what was put in front of him, and another liver and sauteed spinach addict was born. This repeated once or twice a year until we moved to Denver.

Although that was years ago, this has come to mind recently. I have been talking about making family cookbooks for my children and realize that the time is now.  In our house, as I am sure it is in many houses, food is memory. Sometimes we actually remember to pass on those kinds of things, and sometimes we just keep cooking and forget. It's occurred to me (and to my son) lately, that we don't really know how she cooked this stuff or other recipes that were especially hers-we were too busy talking and eating, as often happens.  We know that she used bacon grease for the saute portion, but little else.
One of the book I purchased used to help me as I create my recipe books!

Fortunately we have a situation that hopefully will produce more than one great outcome as I move towards recipe collection on my husband's side of the family.  My father in law is of course at loose ends, after the loss of B.  He has likes to be busy, to have projects and have people to talk to. I think I've just given him a project, or maybe two.  Along with a birthday card, I sent a letter explaining my goal, and asking him to look through, or write down his recipes as many as possible-and not just for liver. There is grandma's jello salad, sticky chicken, berry crisp (that even my non-berry eating son would eat) Osso Buco, and more.  Since he's an amateur genealogist, I also asked him for some of that information as well, and told him that we would want to talk about that more when we visit in May.

Meanwhile, it's time for me to start searching my own memory and recipes.  My parents have been gone for awhile. Last birthday, another family member replicated the steak and kidney pie, spinach salad and homemade lemon meringue pie that my mother made for my birthday for years.  Her Sole Almondine was unmatched. I have many cookie recipes unique to our family, and traditions of my own to replicate such as homemade lasagna on Christmas eve (including sauce from tomatoes), and lots of other recipes to share-and look up.

This will be both a labor of love for me, as well as a memory for both of my adult kids.  Whenever possible I'll add a note about where the recipe came from, a picture , or something else. Both my kids enjoy cooking as well as eating, and they have been patiently waiting for this book for awhile now.

I'll be working on this project a bit every single week, beginning now. After some thought, I'm using a basic colored binder with a pocket and photo save pages-so that more recipes can be added as needed.  This way I can type the recipes, add graphics, hand written notes and pictures as needed-and still allow the kids to add their own recipes as life goes on. My intention is to update on this every week to keep myself accountable and to share my progress as I work on this family project.  I already have some "food themed" scrapbook papers purchased and am chomping at the big to begin.

Although I'm starting this project to preserve memories, it will be an easy, inexpensive gift that requires a lot of time, very little money and will be unique-just what I am looking for.

And so it goes, this snowed in day in retirement


  1. I love liver as well.

    What a wonderful way to preserve memories.

    God bless.

  2. Barb, so true. Food is love and memories. In 2001, when my paternal grandma was still alive, a family reunion was organized and a cookbook was put together. We asked everyone to submit a favorite recipe or more, those signature dishes of family members and especially, Grandma Margaret - boiled chocolate cookies, coconut macaroons, maple walnut fudge. It also includes my dad's Hamburger Soup and New Orlean's Shrimp Marinade. The foreword reads, "This cookbook was developed to gather and capture some of the wonderful foods and favorite recipes....Let's hear it for family and food!" And "[This] family has never needed a special occasion to eat plenty of good food. Hence the cookbook." In addition to the recipes, there is a history of Grandma's life with pictures for family members to treasure.

  3. Your recipe project sounds like a generous labor of love. I know your relatives and descendants will appreciate it. I too have a few treasured recipes from my mother, and a few from my father - one of which was liver and onions! He sauteed the liver slices in bacon fat, along with sliced onions. When both were nearly finished cooking, he added peeled apple slices for a touch of sweetness. Who knew so many of us liked liver?


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