Thursday, July 14, 2016

I Am From version 2.0, the foodie version...

It's as if for the last month I've had no desire to write, as if sitting down in front of the computer was something to dread instead of something to enjoy.  Perhaps I felt compelled to write something deep and profound in light of the heaviness in the news lately, but the deep and profound well within me seems to have run dry.  Then on a wonderful, but all too short, getaway to the beach I read a post by writing coach Ann Kroeker in which she reminded me of the fun I had writing I Am From.  On the drive home, the idea and inspiration for "I Am From version 2.0, the foodie version" gave me back the desire to sit down at the computer and write, simply for the joy of it.


I am from Mama's homemade bread, warm from the oven and smeared with melting Gold-n-Soft margarine.  I am from Daddy's attempts at making chili, too spicy for my little girl liking, but tempered by the crumbled up saltines mixed into my  bowl.  I am from thrifty meals made for a family of nine, pinto beans cooked with ham hock with a side of golden cornbread, potato soup flecked with specks of black pepper and little pools of yellow butter floating on top, creamed tuna on toast or crackers, which is way better than you'd think, unlike the oh so dreaded liver and onions.  

I am from cornbread crusted panfried trout caught in local rivers. I am from clams freshly dug on the Oregon coast and brought home and made into creamy chowder.  I am from sour green apples stolen off the neighbor's tree and eaten with glee in spite of the warning of impending tummy aches.  I am from sun warmed strawberries eaten off the plant when we were supposed to be picking them for money. I am from icy cold watermelon eaten in the summer sprinkled with a touch of salt and eaten outside so we could spit out the seeds.  I am from homemade jams and home canned fruits and vegetables. I am from salads made with iceberg lettuce, because that's the only kind of lettuce we had, dressed with a plain dollop of mayonnaise.

I am from Sunday pot roast cooked with potatoes and carrots and a few garlic cloves tucked into cuts Mama had made in the meat before she cooked it.  The delicious garlic, meaty smell of it wafted out of the oven and clear out to the front porch to greet us when we got home from Sunday morning church. I am from picnic lunches of crunchy fried chicken and homemade potato salad and deviled eggs.  I am from boiled corn on the cob, dripping with butter and sprinkled with salt.  I am from fresh green beans simmered with onion and bacon. I am from Mama's chocolate cake with peanut butter frosting, from her pumpkin and apple pies. I am from Thanksgiving turkey dinners with Mama's homemade dressing that I've yet to make as good as she did.  I am from homemade Christmas fudge and candies, from sugar cookies and date rolls and the cookies Mama made that were shaped like eights.

I am from brown bag school lunches containing a simple p.b and j or bologna and cheese sandwich, (or the embarrassingly odorous tuna or egg salad), and a couple of Mama's good homemade cookies.   Our sack lunches never contained chips or store-bought treats made by Hostess. A few pennies bought a carton of regular milk to wash it all down. I am from the anticipation of those infrequent elementary school treats of little cups of white ice cream mixed with orange sherbet and eaten with a little wooden spoon shaped flat like a paddle

I am from my Nana's big, soft molasses cookies, eaten the summer we traveled by car all the way from Oregon to Nana's house in Maine.  I turned six years old that summer, but the memories of my Nana and those cookies still warms my heart. I am from lobster dipped in butter, Maine blueberries made into pie, and New England boiled dinner. I am from real New York pizza eaten at my Aunt Evelyn's in Brooklyn.  

I am from the era when money saving casserole ideas were clipped from newspaper or magazine ads. They had names like Dilly Dally Beef Casserole and Top of the Range Casserole.  Then there was the unnamed Macaroni and Cheese Casserole made with Kraft Mac and Cheese, hamburger and mushroom soup, which was on the menu frequently.

I am from Jordanian mensaf eaten with friends who became family.  I am from joloff rice and spicy soup made with grasscutter eaten in Ghana.  I am from pinto gallo eaten in Nicaragua.  I am from Croque Madame eaten at a sidewalk cafe on that one amazing day I was in Paris.  I am fish and chips eaten in London, and Jamaican food eaten there as well, prepared for us by a dear family who welcomed us hospitably into their home like we were family.  I am from Mexican tamales eaten with immigrants who made the Hood River valley their home.  I am from Guatemalan tortillas and black beans made by friends.  I am from Julia Child's boeuf bourguignon made in my own kitchen with my own hands, and her crepes, which is my favorite breakfast.

I am from decades of church potlucks with offerings both delectable and questionable.  I am from Kay's layered lemon dessert, from Maggie's meatloaf, from Kimmie's decadent baked goods, from Arlynda's taco soup.  I am from recipes gleaned through the decades from family and friends, from magazines and cookbooks, tested and tried and tweaked and made my own.  I am from all of the thousands of meals made by my own hands, but provided by my good Father.  I am from that unfortunate newlywed experiment of stuffing a turkey with Ricearoni, and the scorched turkey soup I made with the leftovers.  I am from meals made from groceries provided by parishioners, homegrown vegetables and fruit, fresh caught fish, homemade jams, jellies and pickles, once there was a whole leg of lamb! (But, why, oh, why does someone always give us a can of creamed corn that never gets eaten but sits in our pantry for years on end?)

I am from meals made for two, then for three, then four and then five. I am from those five o'clock every evening dinners around our own dining room table with our three daughters. I am from Swiss Dip sandwiches made with hamburger and swiss cheese.  I am from tacos and spaghetti and 101 ways to make hamburger stretch.  I am from diet dinners of baked chicken, dry baked potatoes and salad that my girls still complain about.  I am from fads of having no sugar in the house and nothing but whole grains.  I am from breakfasts of the infamous buckwheat pancakes, also known as manhole covers by my critical offspring.  I'm from sourdough starter make into anything and everything, another family bone of contention.  I am from family dinners that have grown from five people to now thirteen.  I am from current family favorites, such as Middle Eastern rice topped with feta, pine nuts and greek yogurt, Shredded Pork burritos, the pork simmered low and slow in a homemade verde sauce, spaghetti topped with a marinara filled with tomatoes, Italian sausage, mushrooms and olives and, of course, some homemade french bread on the side.  I am from more breakfasts, lunches, dinners and homemade cakes, cookies, breads, pies, crisps and cobblers than I can remember, but shared with family and friends that I can't forget.

I am from all that has nourished me throughout my almost fifty nine years of living, the food, the friends, the family, the faith.  I am from the truth that all I have needed God's hand has graciously and generously provided.

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  1. Elizabeth, This was an absolutely creative, beautifully written, poignant post!!

    You helped to bring back so many of my own childhood memories of the foods that "I came from".

    This was truly such a treat to read. I leave here feeling blessed.

    Thank you!

    1. Thank you so much, Karen. I enjoyed writing it immensely!

  2. This is beautiful. And now, I am suddenly very hungry! :)

    1. Lyli, it was so fun to write this, and good for my soul that has been heavy hearted lately.

  3. So much good food and good memories!

    1. Carol, food and the meals we enjoy with others, really is an important thread in the weaving of our lives, in my opinion.

  4. A sensory feast! I'm so happy you felt inspired to write this food-themed version, moving from childhood to neighborhood and church, to young adulthood, and out to the world...situating it all under the hand of God. Bravo!

  5. Wonder WONDERFUL enjoyable post! Talk about creative writing!!
    Loved it!

  6. Neat! I've never seen the food version of this. Your descriptions have my mouth watering for some of my grandmama's yummy biscuits and honey.

    1. I'm not sure there is other food versions, it's just an idea I had. It was fun to write!

  7. Love this!!! And I love to cook too. My mother didn't. Even at 56, I'm discovering new things to cook--just this week I made Devonshire cream and lemon curd for the first time.


    1. Oh yum! Now I want scones and Devonshire cream!

  8. Writing that sparks memories is the best, Elizabeth. What you've written is living and breathing and invokes memories in everyone who reads. Such a gift!

  9. Elizabeth!!! You made me hungry!!!! We had a lot of those same memories. EXACTLY!!! Even the dreaded liver and onions!!! Which I announced, "When I am a mother, I will be nice to my kids, we will NEVER have liver and onions!!!" We never did!!!
    Loved this post.
    God Bless~


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