Monday, May 23, 2011

Grandma's in the Kitchen

This past month, our family lost the best Grandma in the Kitchen.  Aunt Marie, 92,  was the family glue whose life centered in her kitchen.  For her children, I have been putting together a CD  of photos and videos of her in the kitchen doing what she loved- cooking for others.   When you think of her, the setting is always in the kitchen  making some of her best recipes for family and friends.  I would visit with her on my annual trip to ND.  The last few years, I got the idea of video taping her and chatting about her life making some of those family favorites that she used no recipe for.   These clips are priceless! So as I am doing this project, I am thinking how important the role of being in the kitchen really is.

First of all, not all Grandma's cook.  That doesn't mean the kitchen is not a central place for making memories, teaching lessons, having precious family time.   For the non-cooks,  you can set an example of making good food choices, bringing in those 'special' treats,  saying family grace at the table etc.
But for us cooks,  well, the experience can be a lifetime of lessons/memories just like my Aunt Marie's.

Sharing the passion of good food-  I don't know anyone who doesn't like to eat. Granted many of us grew up with the tastiest food of fried chicken, mash potatoes, brownies, lemon bars, pot roast etc.   My mouth is watering as I right this.  Today's grandma's,  can share those wonderful family traditional foods, but also we need to think about creating newer, healthier habits.  For whether we believe it or not, what we prepare, will get remembered.  Grandma's can learn new ways to cook. I am now show casing my grilled salmon, fresh from the garden salads, lots of vegies not slathered in butter, and of COURSE dessert.

Desserts- I believe dessert can be eaten at any point of the meal,  not at the end.  I LOVE dessert.  My sister was the baker in the family, so desserts are not my forte- but I am great at eating them.  My desserts are simple ice cream with interesting fruit sauces, brownies - from a box,  banana bread, and my famous rhubbard crisp!    My birthday cakes are nortorious for the amount of toothpicks in them to hold them together,  so that humor is also a tradition.

Cooking together and sharing tales in the kitchen- priceless.  When I was video taping Aunt Marie,  through our conversation, I learned about her life as a child, learned about my own mom and things they would do, who she made the noodles for etc.  First of all, she was not concerned if her kitchen got messy, this is  important as children get things messy.  Aunt Marie was very tolerant of messes, for it was more important to be involved.  Working with new/inexperienced cooks, you learn HOW to do certain tasks, like whipping air into egg whites,  HOW to measure dry ingredients, HOW cut with a knife etc.  Also learning about your family events and learning about your grandchildren's lives are shared in the process.

 This past year, my daughters, my grandbaby, and I began the tradition of doing a gingerbread house at Christmas.  Now, since I am not a baker, I just bought a kit! We had so much fun putting on the 'stuff'.  Of course I bought extra candy to put on. We were all so proud of our creation. It was the perfect project as my grandbaby was just under 2 years old. It is important to think how the projects are age appropriate.   I look forward to making cookies with my grand daughter, most likely chocolate chip.  I think this will need to happen maybe this week or the next rainy day.   Yum

Growing up in the midwest, there were many community traditions that involved food.  Living away from that area, I have tried to put a few of them into my family's life.  One is making a Norweign bread called lefse!  It is a very time consuming task, so 1 time a year I get out the rolling pins, lefse grill and invite family and friends to join me.  We have such a great time rolling out these flat tortilla like breads that we will share at our Thanksgiving dinner.  Hopefully my little one will join us this year. I am looking for a rolling pin just her size!

So do you cook with your grand children or children?  What is your favorite recipe/project that you do? Do you have a cultural tradition that you are keeping alive like my lefse?  Would love to hear from you.

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