Leaving a legacy

March 16, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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First, eats for the day.

Breakfast:

(Before I changed my mind) A pre-run piece of PB toast with coffee and half and half.  I then changed my mind and decided to run tonight.  Oops.

Oatmeal!  Mix-ins of sliced strawberries and cacao nibs.  It tasted like a chocolate-covered strawberry.  Delicious.

Lunch: Salad with red leaf lettuce, carrots, cucumber, tomato and tuna with a little EVOO and Balsamic Vinegar.  On the side: green grapes, clementines, Triscuits and vanilla yogurt.  Everything fits the “If It Doesn’t Have a Mama” March rules, wouldn’t you say?

So, let’s talk, you and I.

This post has been rolling around in my mind for a while now — some of it is the result of some off-roading thoughts while I run, others have come to me at the strangest times.  I really wanted it to marinate before I shared it, because while I divulge a lot of elements of my life with you, this one is perhaps a little deeper than most.

I lost my grandmother this past December.  Her death was sudden and unexpected and has left quite a hole in my life.  I was just starting to get used to the idea of my grandfather being gone (you can read here about how he has inspired me to run this half marathon).  When she died, I was shocked.  She was an amazing woman and she lived a wonderful life, and when she passed, she took with her a great many things: the sound of her laugh (it was great), her kooky phrases (she once called me a pot-licker during a card game!?) and her amazing cooking.

That woman had a recipe for everything.  She would look at old photos of a get-together or a potluck and say, “oh, I remember that ham.  That was the best ham.”  She shared her love through her food — preparing what she thought we would each love  and being sure to point it out to us in case we needed prompting for seconds! In my quest to avoid unnatural foods and preservatives and chemicals during the “If It Doesn’t Have a Mama March” challenge, I keep returning to the idea of recipes.  Very few recipes will suggest you add a dash of a 5-syllable word you can’t pronounce.  Am I wrong?

The best recipes are the ones passed down to you from your family.  I have my grandma’s pie crust recipe, and while it isn’t fancy or complicated, my connection to the person who gave me the recipe is what keeps me from pulling a Pillsbury refrigerated pie crust out of the freezer section.  Instead, I reach for my pastry blender.  It makes me feel just a little bit closer to her for that few minutes I’m rolling out the dough — that feeling is worth the extra effort.

Is there a recipe you use that connects you in that way?  When you close your eyes and picture your childhood home at dinner time, what do you smell?  Who’s recipe is that? Who’s legacy is that?

When I was home this past weekend, I asked my mom what became of Grandma’s recipe boxes…yes, boxes.  There were quite a few.   Those recipes are safe and sound and I have big plans for them.  I’m going to compile them into a cookbook and print three copies: one for me, one for my mother and one for my sister.  These recipes may not hold any interest for anyone else, but they matter to us.

I take this idea from another amazing woman in my life: my mother-in-law.  The most used cookbook on my shelf is not Betty Crocker or Rachael Ray — it’s the cookbook she prepared in honor of my wedding to her son.  It is beautiful.  I love that she included old family photos and noted which relative supplied which recipe and which family member loves the oatmeal cookie recipe.  I love that even though I never met many of these women, I can continue their legacy in my kitchen.

I may be getting a little sappy for your tastes at this point — forgive me.  I’ll bring it back to my usual style with one final thought:

When you think about that childhood dinner time scene, it probably isn’t a tv dinner you’re picturing; do you want it to be for your children?

Now go pull out an old recipe and say a silent “thank you” to whoever supplied you with that legacy.

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5 Comments »

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  1. beautiful post. I grew up in the South, so I have many memories of childhood that are filled with the smell of good, home-cooked meals and sitting around the supper table on a hot summer night with the windows open eating fried chicken and drinking sweet tea. *sigh* i miss it. I am sorry about your grandma. I miss both of mine tremendously. We have a family cookbook too!

    • Your description of your childhood meals is absolutely awesome. I’m glad you have such a great image of what “real” food is to a family! 🙂

  2. […] I pondered the legacy of recipes. […]

  3. […] Wondering what that means?  You’ll just have to wait…but here’s a hint: I talk about it in this post. […]

  4. […] Broiled chicken with green beans and dark cherries.  This is the easiest dinner because it requires three ingredients (lemon juice, oil and salt) and the ability to push broil and walk away.  Dear Grandma, Thank you thank you thank you. It’s her recipe.  You can read how I feel about handed down recipes here. […]


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