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Posts Tagged ‘family’

My doctor may not agree* but some days you just need to go all in. This recipe is one example**:

Mom’s Mashed Potatoes

Peel, cook, mash, mix. The secret to success is lots of everything good; more butter, more milk, more salt.

Simple. Good.

* I use this rule in moderation, which makes the times when I do even better.

** Lest one accuse my mother of writing an incomplete recipe, I admit that there was originally more to it than this. I’ve stripped it down to the essentials:)

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Photo by bernard buyse on Unsplash

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Today would have been The Whippersnapper‘s 109th birthday. I was hoping to post another photo of her but my father, keeper of the family album, is out of town.

For now just let me say to my grandmother, dancer, baker, tea maker and all-around excellent human being:

I miss you, but I love that you were here.

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Photo by Logan Ellzey on Unsplash

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For various reasons I need a dose of cute today. Here it is, in case you do too.

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Photo by Patrick Slade on Unsplash

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Today is the first time I will be making Swedish meatballs for Christmas Eve. I’ve helped my father, many times, but have never made them in my own house. 

The recipe we grew up with was my grandmother’s. Every year we would pull out the little wooden recipe card box and find a three by five index card in her handwriting, with my father’s annotations at the edges. You could tell which one it was by all the lingonberry stains. 

I loved that it was a family recipe, and that every time we made it I remembered Christmas as a kid at my grandparents’ house in Chicago. 

I will admit that I didn’t exactly love the recipe. A decade or so ago we all admitted that maybe, just maybe, the meatballs weren’t all they could be (sorry, Grandma!), and tried an alternative. Here’s what I had to say about that:

… a few years ago we made the shift from Grandma Johnson’s handwritten recipes (so homey!) for dishes like Swedish meatballs and limpa and roast pork to the spectacular versions of same in Marcus Samuelsson’s Aquavit. Yes, an Ethiopian-born immigrant throws down on traditional Swedish food and wins big. See what I mean? The food still says home, only better:) 

The Universal Language? | J.R. Johnson

So this year we’re doing the new old family recipe. It won’t be the traditional Christmas Eve smorgasbord with family, but it will feel like the holidays.

Mr Man and I have already made the quick-pickled cucumbers and are letting them steep (half the sugar though, and no apologies!). As soon as the juice is at full flavor it will be time to make the meatballs. 

Until then we’ll kick back, listen to classic Christmas music and make the most of this Christmas Eve. 

God jul everyone!

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Photo by Valentin Petkov on Unsplash

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Today, a recipe that has an important place in our family history.

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Swedish Pancakes
(Mike Johnson)

Mike: The history of this recipe begins with Olga, my father’s father’s (far far in Swedish) sister. For most of her life she was a live-in maid and nanny for a rich family across town, from the time when Swedish girls were brought over to replace other ethnicities in the service industry. She also cooked for her brother and his children, and later grandchildren on the weekends. After that she took care of her son. She worked all her life, living with the same family for 30 years and only retiring at 85. She died at the age of 99, tired and more than ready to go.

Jen: My father often spoke of Olga and how she would stand at his grandfather’s stove flipping seven thin pancakes at a time in the special cast iron pan, piling plates high on Sunday mornings. She didn’t have a recipe, just mixed the ingredients together until they “looked right.” Dad finally made up his own and still uses it to play the role of Swedish grandmother, eating over the stove as the rest of us spread butter and sugar and lemon or lingonberries on the pancakes,* then roll them up to eat. Delicious!

Ingredients:

  • 2 eggs
  • 1 ¼ C. milk
  • ¾ C. flour
  • ¼ C. sugar
Photo by M Draa on Unsplash

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* We do the dishes after so Dad can relax. We’re not monsters!

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We Earned This One

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Here is a thing that I love, and the one item I requested from my grandmother’s estate: an artichoke plate. 

Artichokes are thorny, tough and difficult to pair with wine. They were at the heart (hehe) of a racketeering scheme in New York in the 1920s and ’30s, which led to a temporary ban and a dramatic upswing in knowledge about, and orders for, the vegetable. They also taste great.

The back of the plate is marked “E & R 0136” but that’s the only information I have. Where was it made, when, and did it come from Ebeling & Reuss or another manufacturer? I don’t know, but I love it anyway.

Disassembling an artichoke flower bud is a messy job, and this plate is the perfect canvas on which to do it. I prefer to serve mine with lemon butter sauce, but there’s also mayonnaise. If you must.

I doubt the dish is valuable from anything other than an emotional standpoint but that’s fine, I won’t be selling it. I have a lot of great memories about artichokes and about my grandmother, and this plate helps me remember both.

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Loss

My nephew’s grandfather passed recently. He loved the land and the life he made on it with his wife of 49 years. He was a farmer, a dedicated family man, a gentleman and a pillar of strength for both his family and his community.

His shadow was long and his roots deep. He will be sorely missed.

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Photo by Jennifer Chen on Unsplash

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A long-time family friend always says goodbye by saying “Be good!” My father always answers the same way: “Have fun!”

You can see which side Samuel Clemens occupied.

“Be good + you will be lonesome. Mark Twain” British Library digitised image from page 10 of “Following the Equator. A journey around the world [With a portrait.]”

I at least try to split the difference.

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Today’s Astronomy Photo of the Day is a video, two and a half minutes of the Perseid meteor shower as seen from the  Indian Astronomical Observatory in Hanle, India.

Video Credit & Copyright: Vikas Chander & Dorje Angchuk; Music: Tea Time via PremiumBeat

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Watching this takes me back. We would wake up at three in the morning and head to the back yard to watch meteors burn through the atmosphere. I’d anchor myself on Orion, my first and still favorite constellation, then watch the sky for the next magical streak of green.

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