So, I'm making an heirloom recipe book for my son, nieces and nephews. I've been taking a break from this for about five months. A month or so ago, I started thinking about Corned Beef and Cabbage, a traditional Irish American boiled dinner, especially if you are from in or around Boston.
Most of the recipes are from my Mom, who was Irish, French and German, and some from her mother and father.
I think it is a fun project, but it takes a lot of time. Time, because I end up thinking and remembering
and enjoying those times when we had that dish or pie. In February, she would be making Cherry Pie and old-fashioned jelly rolls, boy those were good.
I remember most of the memories that come from when a particular one was served. Food, family and holidays.....I remember the Miracle on Ice, when the US won the Olympics. She made Fried Chicken. We watched and ate dinner in the living room, I think. It was always dinner at the table, but not that day. Such an event for US Hockey. Nine years prior my Dad had died of a sudden, fatal cerebral hemorrhage. He loved hockey and was the reason we got a color TV during the Golden Years of the Boston Bruins. I think my Mom was excited about the hockey for he would have loved it and I was with my then fiance who loved sports of all kinds. She definitely had spirit and supported things we liked in a great way with heart, emotion, love and always homemade food!
I grew up in a time when we had supper at 5:00 p.m., and we had Sunday dinner at about 1:00 o'clock. We had meat and potatoes of course every night, and vegetables of course and huge Sunday dinners with the aunts and uncles, grandparents.
Why is it that food has memories or we have memories of food?
I remember making petit fours. Why? I don't know, think I just wanted to test out some baking skills. I am not a great baker, but my mother and my aunt and my sister all possessed that skill. I can decorate a cake though, with flourish and creativity. So, I decorated those petit fours to the hilt. I can cook a great meal. Just not desserts. I can't even make "Never Fail Fudge".
Sometimes we have good nostaglia about foods, like Whoopie Pies for instance. My mother made those for every event I had to attend. They were the favorites of my young peers and myself. She also made May Baskets for us and also for my son's class. An honored tradition that people of today forget, May Baskets are a beautiful spring tradition, especially if you fill with home made fudge, the kind I can't make.
My mother was a great baker and never made Lemon Meringue Pie again, because she was making it the day we learned her nephew, my cousin had diabetes at age eleven and that was his favorite. We were a close knit family in spirit and physically, all living near each other, in walking distance.
Why is that I can't make corned beef? Well, first of all it is expensive, but second of all, it brings back memories I do not like.
I found my mother who had a stroke lying on the floor and there was a corned beef sandwich on the kitchen table. She survived the stroke, but thinking about her lying on the floor alone for three hours was awful.
But, if I were to make Corned Beef it would be the gray one and I'd sprinkle some vinegar on the cabbage.