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A Pantry of Memories 
Jan. 16, 2011 8:16 am 
Updated: Jan. 23, 2011 8:56 am
Growing up, I remember both my parents used to love to cook for large groups of people.  I remember many Saturdays in our small kitchen; friends & family gathered together eagerly awaiting the meal.  My Dad often had marathon cooking days based on ethnic foods; Chinese buffets, Mexican fiestas, & bang-up barbecue's were his specialties.  Every dish started from scratch, with lots of chopping, dicing, and slicing going into the preparations.  One of his signature dishes were what came to be known as "Burnitos" because they were so spicy no one could eat them.  He considered that dish his finest accomplishment, although he always toned it down after that so everyone could enjoy them.  I have a picture of him in his yellow & white striped apron cooking up a storm.  

Our family history is comprised of cooking stories...successes and failures.  Mom was famous for leaving something in the oven at every meal.  I can still hear her voice say (usually in the middle of a completely different conversation) "OH NO!  The Rolls!" (or fill in the blank with the appropriate forgotten dish)  We still laugh about the time we found the baked beans in the oven the next morning, cold and completely untouched.   Thanksgiving would not be complete without rehashing the year Dad left the huge bowl of hand chopped and freshly seasoned homemade bread crumbs on the dryer in the laundry room, & didn't realize it until we had carved the turkey & set the table. No dressing for us that year. 

Also included in my favorite cooking stories is one known as "The Peanut Brittle Incident".  Dad makes peanut brittle and as he is stirring the molten sugary goo, he decides to "taste" the spoon.  It immediately welded itself to his mustache.  He danced a jig as he tore half his mustache and at least a layer of lip off.  He has yet to live that one down.

After I grew up, moved away, and then returned to my hometown, we started a tradition of Sunday Morning breakfast at the Folks'.  It was a way to ensure we all stayed in touch in spite of kids growing up & life getting hectic.  My niece & nephew grew up around that table.  We sometimes included extended family, and as the kids got older, friends were welcomed to ensure we got to visit with the kids.  Mom spent a lot of time searching for something new & different to wow us, and often times the result was fodder for conversation (or laughs) while we ate.  Her enthusiasm for finding 15 different ways to serve oatmeal was hard to criticize, even if the oatmeal itself left a lot to be desired.

My Mom is gone now, and my Dad lives alone and still does his own cooking, although on a much smaller (& simpler) scale.   Sunday morning breakfast has been discontinued, as Mom seemed to be the glue that held us together.  On occasion, my mom's sister uses "Sunday Breakfast" as an excuse for us to gather me & my husband with her family, and we never miss it.  Food is comforting in so many ways, and my enjoyment of cooking whether for a group, or just me & hubs is a link to my childhood & the memories that shape my life. 
Jan. 16, 2011 9:58 am
What an absolutley beautiful story. I will someday make a blog on here that is an ode to my mom and dad. When I do, I hope I can convey, as eloquently as you do, the warmth and community, the soul and love that came from your kitchen. Well done PeaB
Jan. 16, 2011 12:08 pm
thanks, Readwulf! :)
Jan. 17, 2011 11:15 am
Ya know Pea, I can't beleieve your blog post got only my comment. the darn things run through here so fast it's almost a pity to put out the effort to write them here.
Jan. 17, 2011 11:17 am
Such a great tribute to your parents! Brings a tear to my eyes as I remember my Mom. I did post a blog about her not too long ago. It is so wonderful that you can tell this story!
Jan. 19, 2011 3:59 pm
I read your blog about your Mom, Anissa. It was beautiful! It's amazing how shared experiences link us all together in the rat race of the world.
Jan. 23, 2011 8:56 am
Thanks Pea..You are absolutely correct..I am headed over to visit my Dad today. I am bringing him some sauce and meatballs and I know that I will come home with something that he made. Thank Goodness that he lives close and we can share these things..
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About Me
I am a Registered Nurse, specializing in Surgical Services. I love working in the OR, Recovery Room and the Pre & Post Op area. I am headed back to school to get my Masters Degree in Nursing Administration. I spend my free time reading and making beaded jewelry, and playing with my dog, Aggie
My favorite things to cook
I like to bake. I also like to cook for people to enjoy. I am starting to cook more "comfort foods" that my husband and I remember from our rural childhoods. I love homemade soup!
My favorite family cooking traditions
When my Mom was alive, our family met every Sunday morning in her kitchen for breakfast. My nieces and nephews grew up there, and we kept in touch with everyone over Mom's latest "new recipe". Some were definite keepers, and others were good for laughs.
My cooking triumphs
My mother in law thinks my pies are fabulous. I consider any dish that is asked for more than once a "triumph".
My cooking tragedies
When I was newly married, I tried to make my Mom's homemade "beef & noodles". Made the mistake of running a "quick" errand and by the time I got home, there was so much black smoke in my apartment that someone called the fire department. The meal (and the pan it was cooking in) was a complete loss. No human was injured, though.
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