My Thursday Redux guest today is Melissa Keir who is published with Secret Cravings Publishing, as well as being self-published. Melissa writes contemporary, small town romances. Her Melissa’s Wilders Sisters series takes place in her hometown of Amherst, Ohio and features five girls who left Amherst only to return to care for their ailing father. Her other stories feature small towns, blended families, and happily ever afters. From September through June, Melissa teaches children and shares her passion for writing and math with them. You can also hear Melissa’s Morning After Movie Reviews on a local Michigan radio station each Monday morning. I loved her Redux post, having enjoyed a similar relationship with my grandmother. Check out Melissa’s Redux post and her contribution to the Wilders Sisters series.
This post I originally wrote in 2009 after cooking my grandmother’s favorite recipe. My mother has been gone for over fifteen years yet she still remains in my memory. I remember the day I was cooking, wanting to call her to ask her a question. Her death hit me hard again. My grandmother, her mother, had been my best friend when I was a teenager. I rode my bike to her house when mom and I butted heads. Yet she also died shortly after my high school graduation, never knowing my children…never having that close relationship with them that I had with her. Needing to get my feelings down, I wrote this post and shared it with my family and friends on my blog. Now each time I make this recipe or the other family recipes I feel like they are there with me.
Food Has a Memory
Food has a memory, for good and for bad. We can remember certain foods that were important to us as children or food that made us sick. One time when I was ten years old, my father thought I should try some shrimp. He didn’t believe me when I said that I didn’t like it, but forced me to try it and watched me run to the bathroom like a mouse with a cat on my tail, to get sick. That memory stays with me today and shrimp will never cross my lips.
There are foods that are a part of tradition. My family makes a sauerkraut soup for our Christmas Eve celebration. It takes two to three days to make this recipe with the smell of sauerkraut wafting through the house. We are also known for our dilly bean recipe which is nothing more than pickled green beans. This too was a production of momentous proportion each summer after the green beans came in!
Today for some odd reason, I decided to make German Kuchen. This was a recipe which came from my mom’s side of the family. I remember vividly her, my aunt and grandmother making dozens of these delicious coffee cakes in my grandmother’s small kitchen. It was given to my mom from her grandmother who came over from Switzerland to live among the shores of Lake Erie. Pulling out the recipe, I noticed my scribbles on the old recipe card that my mom gave me. I was trying to decipher the magic code for a recipe that my mom knew by heart.
After a quick trip to the grocery store for ingredients, with recipe in hand, I was ready to begin. Like any good recipe, there are tweaks that have been done to it over the years. My mom used to use cake yeast, but I use bread yeast dissolved in warm milk. The recipe calls for one or two eggs. How do I know which is the correct amount? Do I split it and put in one and half? Mixing the sugar, butter and eggs into a nice blend was easy. But then I got to the next stage, where it became truly challenging for me. I wasn’t sure what my mom meant by a stiff batter. Was that like pizza dough or more like cake batter? All I wanted to do was pick up the phone and call my mom or grandmother to ask them! They would know the secret to the scribbles on the recipe card so that I could become a part of the generations of Jones women who made this delicious dessert.
At this point, I feel the weight of generations on my shoulders. Will I be good enough? Can I carry on the traditions of my family for the next generation? Will my children have the fond memories of cooking with me to look back on when they have children of their own? I took a chance with the batter and went for something in between pizza dough and cake batter. Then I had to let it rise, and rise again. All the while, I am trying to channel my family members who can help me with this problem. I can’t call my mom and just ask her because she died over 15 years ago.
Parents are not supposed to die. They are the superheroes of every child. The “person” who can do no wrong and make all hurts go away with just one kiss. No one ever imagines a day when they will be without a parent-your father who will help you with your car, or a mother who knows just what to add to her secret recipe, yet we do have to go on without them here beside us. I thought I had accepted this fact until I tried to make her family recipe. Then I was back to being a kid wanting her mother to help her make things all better.
Food can make you closer to your family as you enjoy a treat and think back to yesteryear, remembering the laughter and deliciousness of the meal prepared with your family. Today I wanted that closeness, that bond with my mom. Making the Kuchen was hard for me because I wanted to make her proud and do it just like she always did. As I pulled the pans out of the oven, my son asked about them and after the explanation of what they were, he remarked that they smelled good. Tears formed in my eyes. Yes, maybe they will remember these days when they are older with children of their own. Maybe the memory of the Kuchen and my mom and grandmother will live on!
Cowboy Up Book Bundle- The Heartsong Cowboy
Contemporary Western Self published, Sept 2014
About the series: D’Ann Lindun contacted me and five other authors with the idea of writing a cowboy story for a book bundle. Each author took the idea in their own way and wrote captivating stories which showcase the uniqueness of cowboys. My story- The Heartsong Cowboy- is inspired by a real life event.
A boxed set of seven romantic novellas by seven award-winning authors experienced with writing about the men of the West.
The Heartsong Cowboy blurb:
Can two people, one horse and the power of love cure a little girl?
Angela French blames herself for her daughter’s lack of voice. Determined to do anything to correct the situation, she seeks out Jake Kyncade, the owner of The Heartsong Ranch.
Jake Kyncade hides his own sorrows behind his no-nonsense demeanor. Helping children becomes one way to correct his past. Using equine therapy, he sets out to make a difference.
Can Jake help Angela’s dreams come true or will Jake’s past bring more heartache? Will love save them all?
Buy the Series: AMAZON
Melissa’s Buy Link: AMAZON