Holidays always bring Mom to mind. She created plenty of food for seven of us, plus hired men all year long, but really outdid herself on holidays. Entertaining meant a lot to her, and she put forth a mind-boggling amount of effort to produce perfect turkey, dressing, gravy, homeland rolls and pies . . . the works.
We have it pretty easy now, in comparison. Mom’s old gas oven threatened to blow every time she squatted down to light the burners. I definitely remember that “poof!” For her, progressing to an electric one must have seemed like heaven.
At age nineteen, setting up housekeeping in a stark little frame farmhouse couldn’t have been easy, especially since she grew up in poverty and probably didn’t know a lot about stocking a kitchen. But she managed, and people eventually raved about her culinary skills. Oh, the pies . . . luscious crusts, enticing raspberry and peach and apple fillings. My cousin recalls FOOD as being a highlight when visiting us on the farm.
Tthat was due to Mom’s willingness to pour herself into cooking and baking. In the photo, she’s on the left, at about five years old. In adulthood she always had something perking, and wasn’t afraid to try new recipes that came along, like Baked Alaska. For an Iowa homemaker in the fifties, that really says a lot about risk-taking.
Now, our daughter consistently comes up with new recipe ideas, and our granddaughter has grown up knowing her way around the kitchen. This would make Mom proud, because it’s a good share of her legacy.
The men may have battled the elements to produce a corn and soybean harvest, but Mom fought her own forays in the kitchen. Making do came naturally to her, having survived the Depression years and World War II rationing.
This morning, I needed to make deviled eggs and was out of mayo, so an old cookbook provided a recipe for making my own. Really not complicated, but requiring a double boiler which I rarely use. The main ingredients, STANDING and STIRRING, brought Mom to mind once again. How many hours did she spend standing at the stove, mixing and tasting and adding a bit more spice, waiting and hoping for a positive outcome?
My addiction to the WWII era began in her kitchen, because she hummed or whistled or sang those touching tunes as she worked. And she let me help, too. Drew me right into her world, like a skilled artisan.
No doubt about it, Mom’s creations qualified as ART. Her hopes and dreams and aspirations came out in those baking powder biscuits, beef pot roasts, homemade noodles and chicken, and a myriad of other comfort foods. Homemade banana pudding, custard pie that Dad loved, and meringue that peaked as high as anyone’s.
I have to say that noticing the mayonnaise begin to thicken brought a wave of satisfaction this morning. Just one heaping tablespoon of flour mixed with 4 eggs, 1/2 cup of cider vinegar, 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp pepper, 2 tsp mustard, and 1/2 cup of Xylitol somehow caused this reaction. This mixture was fast becoming a creation. (You can make it w/regular sugar, of course, and use GF flour if you wish.)
Who we are today goes way back, doesn’t it? Who we have become, rooted in what was, makes a good place to visit once in a while.
May your holidays exude a touch of the nostalgia that makes you into such a unique person in this world hungry for individuality and creativity! And may you find time to stand and stir.
A dear memory, Gail. My daughter-in-law just told me that hummus is great in deviled eggs, that our granddaughter (age 5) really likes it that way, but who keeps hummus around??? (I did write it on the grocery list to try it next time!)
I keep hummus around! Should start making that, too –I’ve tried b/4 and can’t recall why. But there’s always so much yolk mixture–would hate to throw that out. (Another lesson from Mom.) (:
Thank you for the remembrances. My mother worked outside the home after my father died of tetanus and we moved in town with my maternal grandmother. She was the cook that I remember. Her chocolate chip cookies were always waiting for us when we visited her when she lived on the farm. They were the size of ‘saucers’!!
Ooh…luscious! What was this Grandma’s name? And where did your mom work? In Hampton?
So much to love about this post Ms. Gail. The memories of helping mom in the kitchen on holidays, reflecting back upon all the life lessons taught by my parents, and so many others. As I read your delightful post, I paused to consider an axiom I’ve long thought. The fruit we bear is a result of our roots. Yes, God can supernaturally pull us up and remove the bad roots and plant us in the fertile soil of His love, but good people are (for the most part) the result of good parents and other influences in their lives. I think that started changing in the 1960s, and we’re seeing the results of that change in parenting, values, and morality in our world today. Thank you for reminding us of what made us who we are. I’m so grateful for your mom and the wonderful lessons she gave and legacy that lives on through you my friend. God’s blessings.
The 60’s, I think you nailed it.
Sadly, my own mother didn’t teach me a thing about cooking; that was her territory and hers alone. I do have memories of watching her making pies, though, as she made her own crust. Fascinating!
I wish my mother-in-law, a fabulous cook w/German moorings, had taught my husband to cook! But I think maybe she saw the kitchen as her domain, too. Glad more men are learning the art in these younger generations. Crust, yes….always homemade. (:
This makes me think of the early married years (quite a while ago!) when I was learning my way around the kitchen. The Kitchen Klatter ladies on the radio. I didn’t learn this Midwest way growing up but I was a fast study and fed
the family all those years! Thanks for the the memories Gail.
Oh that’s great you could learn from them! Where there’s a will, there’s a way, right?
As Merle Haggard said in one of his many great songs: “The roots of my raisin’ run deep.” Mom’s long fingers mixing yellow coloring in a block of white margarine (probably lard) to imitate butter; Mom’s red face as she stood over a wood stove stirring huge pots of vegetable soups–there were ten of us; Mom painstakingly using an upturned glass to cut out biscuits evenly to make sure they rose properly instead of pinching them off into “cathead” biscuits. And so many more. Thanks for the memories, Gail.
Wonderful memories you have, Peggy! I hope you write these down in some form?
My dear friend…thank you for the memories! This meaningful read brought a host of memories rushing back to me…some even ran down my cheeks with a smile on my lips. Such heartfelt days long gone, but remaining steadfast in my heart. Thank you, thank you for bringing those long ago memories to me.
Well, I’m so glad, Deb. I hadn’t even planned on writing a blog yesterday, it just sort of slipped out as I was thinking of Mom and how much she gave me.