Thursday, May 3, 2018

Passing memories along...

In the big scheme of life, making items that are useful, beautiful and stitched/knitted/crocheted/painted or cooked with love to display, eat or use within your home is a most treasured and productive pastime.

As I mentioned recently, not having anything that belonged to my mother (or my Nana) is a loss to my heart, so filling our home with simple, decorative and practical pretties here and there means my own children will one day have a variety of joyously handmade-by-mum things to use or hold dear, items which can later be passed along to their own children.
Even recipes can become transferable with each generation when it's something they love made over and over, food that fills their hearts with comfort and warm memories.

That's why I never tire of trimming sweet kitchen towels, sewing cushion covers and table runners, making jam, bread, scones and curries. 

Growing up (and even as an adult when she comes to visit) my daughter Aisha would beg me to bake Blackberry Swirls for dessert, and today as a mother of three she bakes this for her own children. Even more precious, just as Aisha has memories of us making this recipe together, she taught her eldest daughter, Ebony, to bake this as well and now the two of them have treasured memories of baking Blackberry Swirls. 
A recipe which began in my kitchen thirty years ago is now being made by a third generation of my family and as it's one of Ebony's favourites too I'm sure it will one day pass to the fourth generation.

That's something I am very grateful for, recipes which are handed down. Though I have no actual items to hold from my Nana I do make some of her desserts.
Nana was the queen of custards and as it was the only dessert she made she did have a few variations - plain baked custard, baked rice custard, baked bread & butter custard, and banana custard smothered in nutmeg. Every one of them delicious, every one a memory I can taste and smell to this day.

A few years back I shared her baked rice custard recipe and if you'd like to try it the recipe is here.

I would love to have had some of her hand written recipes but the truth is, she had none. Everything she made us was basic, simple, delicious, and her recipe book was written inside her heart. 
In fact there was not one cookbook in her kitchen, not one magazine snipped recipe...her basic menu ran about 14 days with little variation and I remember them all, with a longing to sit once again at her kitchen table and feast on love in a bowl. 

I wonder if we put ourselves under too much pressure to try many different recipes and cuisines, today? That thought has lingered for many months in my head as I recount a friend's experience with a salad.
My friend had invited a work colleague over for coffee and their conversation lingered over to lunchtime so my friend asked her guest if she'd like to stay for lunch. The guest accepted and my friend made a Caesar salad for the two of them.
During the meal this guest began to critique the salad, judging it on this and that as she ate.

My friend, who had generously made a lovely meal for the lady, put down her fork and said, "This is not MasterChef and I have not prepared a meal for you to judge, just a simple lunch for a friend. I'm just a home cook, you know."

I keep this in mind because I too am a home cook, a simple home cook, yet I have dabbled with many a recipe which had numerous and expensive ingredients (that I would not use again) and which my husband did not enjoy.

You see I do watch cooking programs, many of them, and my cookbooks number heavily in the bookshelf, triggering this sense that I should be trying more new things, recreating meals which television chefs and home-cook contestants rave about...but why??

The meals I remember through my life were simple, lovingly made, only a few ingredients, and delicious. That's not to say the odd special dinner cannot be prepared and (hopefully) enjoyed, but all the time? 

The meals my children remembered from their childhood were all simple, and I have a lot of children. 
Just something to think about, you know?

Ask your loved ones what is a favourite meal or dessert you have made for them. It may surprise you in it's simplicity, or it may be something very complicated and time consuming and you'll wish you'd never listened to me and asked them!

Whatever the answer I'd love to know too, so write it in the comments.

Well, that's enough from me today. I've scrubbed my sewing room from top to bottom (and got sidetracked making tea towel gifts) cleaned places here and there and caught up on some new design work, which left me rather a limp soul by the time Mr E arrived home.
Bless his heart he took me out for dinner, which was a surprise and a joy because the only dinners we eat are the ones I cook and sometimes you just long for someone else to make you a meal. 

Have a lovely evening or morning, wherever you are on this beautiful blue marble we call planet Earth.



Allie-oops Designs said...

Oh sweetheart you're making such lovely things - I need to make more things for my own home. I'm thankful that I have my grandma's recipe for ginger snaps, as she always made them for me, and now my mom, aunt and I always make them for the family for Christmas. The cousins love them. I wish I had her coffee cake recipe, I've never tasted one like it, she always made it for me because I didn't like fruitcake.
You're so right about the simple meals. John loves my quesadillas, he now makes them in his own home. Sometimes I get tired of making the same thing over and over, so I try something new, and find out [again] that my family prefers the same thing over and over, lol!!!! Love you!

newsurfiegirl said...

Jenny you make the most amazing gifts and to me your words are a gift. You have a way of calming and grounding me with the wonderful things you write about. Thank you so much for that!

Bovey Belle said...

I am a recent follower and love the things you make and cook. I have to say nothing brings a family together than home cooking. I had our two daughters home last night (son arriving tonight) and we just had a simple meal - a ground beef pie (mince to us!) with cheesy scone topping. So tasty (and the scones make up for the lack of onion as half the family "don't do onion"!!)

All our children are really good cooks - mostly fancier dishes than I have time to try very often - but the basics I taught them have been well remembered and improved upon. I have a journal of my favourite recipes which will be passed on to them to share.

Little Penpen said...

When I ask my adult kids what they would like for me to prepare when they visit, they usually say buttermilk chicken casserole. (which was the recipe my MIL used for my SIL's bridal luncheon) We all use my grandmother's peach cobbler recipe, too.... so easy, yet so good. My mom made delicious chocolate pies, which I can make pretty well, and I usually make for my brothers when they visit. I love it when they say it tastes "just like mama's". I enjoyed this post.

Linda said...

Well,Jenny, I don’t have children of my own, but I fix Christmas dinner for my husband’s grown children and their families every year. They really fuss if I deviate from the traditional, and finish up the gravy and roasted garlic mashed potatoes no matter what. And they always say it is the best meal they have ever eaten! Such fun! I always feel quite complimented if his son asks me for a recipe (he is the only one who cooks!). But the other part of your blog is where I can really relate. In pursuing simplicity the past few years, cooking has become a target as well. I too have lots of cookbooks, and enjoy cooking, but since we mostly eat in, it takes quite a bit of time. And how much do we really need to eat anyway. So I have a couple things for us to eat when we first get up, and then a couple items to choose from for a mid morning bite, and then have a big meal between 2-3 in the afternoon. Then just a snack at 6 or 7 and we are good. We have our own flock of chickens, so eggs feature large in our daily meals. Always enjoy your blogs and creativity!! BEst, Linda B

Lace Faerie said...

Wonderful post! It got me to thinking about my own grandmother, who came to be known to all future generations by friends and family as Mumum. As the oldest grandchild, I guess I gave her the name! :-)

Mumum was a business woman as well as the head nurse in the hospital where I was born. She was a nutritionalist and owned her own health foods store. The meal I most remember her making for me when I visited is a lean cut of meat broiled, 2 lightly steamed veggies and a small dish of cottage cheese and sliced fruit for desert. She wasn’t one for many sweets but I do remember her Oatmeal Raisen Cookies.

When I was in high school and plagued by the usual teenage angst, she would take me to pick fruit. Fresh air and sunshine cures many of life’s ails, she would say. And I always felt so very much better after pouring out my heart to her as we picked. She always made us homemade jam from the wild blackberries, huckleberries and wild Italian prunes. It is a tradition I continued with my kids and look forward to my grandchildren!

Brenda said...

Hello Jenny; You are such an uplifting Sister in Christ! I always am so delighted with your posts and all that you share. Both of my Grandmothers had very few recipes written down, they had them in their hearts also. I am asked for every family gathering to make my Dads Mothers Rolls, they are delicious. I do have several of my Moms Mothers recipes because her youngest Daughter copied all sorts of family recipes down and gave that to me for a wedding present (my first). I still use and make quite a lot of them. Thank you for sharing your memories, recipes, projects of all kinds and so much more! Have a great day!

Tammy said...

Jenny every thing you make is a beautiful treasure. And your daughters are so lucky to have these treasures you gift them with.... I wish my mom Had time to sew for me. As a child she made our clothing and a few small basic quilts. But she works full time and doesn't have time to sew or make anything for pleasure for her or anyone else. I so wish she had time to sew and make things for her own pleasure. You deserve a meal out occasionally. It does us good....Love you my sweet friend. Try not to overdo it. My favorite recipe is my moms Recipe for a homemade pound cake. This was her mothers recipe that's been handed down. My daughter loves this pound cake. I also make my mothers fruit cake and it is delicious too...

GeneGribouille03 said...

Merci Jenny pour se bel article les joies viennent souvent des choses les plus simples car c'est fait avec amour (ici semoule au lait sucré et riz au lait) bravo pour tes beaux ouvrages amitiés de France

Winifred said...

It's sad you don't have any of the things you Mam & Nana made for you but you have the memories and you have the recipes! You have passed htese on to your children too so they live on.

I have my Mam's handbag & for the first few years after she died I used to take it out & smell her powder. The smell has faded now but I can still smell it in my mind. I have a few of the tray cloths she had & have used them & repaired them over & over. They are old fashioned but I wouldn't part with them.

Your children will have some lovely things that you have made for them & some great memories of you as you have of your Nana, not just of things you made or possessions, but time spent with you & skills you have passed on. God bless Jenny.

Gigi said...

Hi Jenny
I am a recent follower and am enjoying reading your blogs.
I love the pretty fabrics you use and gorgeous gifts you design, thank you for sharing.
This latest post brought a tear to my eye as it brought back fond memories of my lovely mother in law, who would make rice custard and those lovely kitchen hand towels, which would hang prettily in her very homely kitchen.
Sadly she passed before she could share her recipe, so I’m going to try yours, and she never taught me how to make the hanging tea towels. Do you have a pattern or tutorial to share?
I look forward to your next blog

Gigi said...

Hi Jenny
I am a recent follower and am enjoying reading your blogs.
I love the pretty fabrics you use and gorgeous gifts you design, thank you for sharing.
This latest post brought a tear to my eye as it brought back fond memories of my lovely mother in law, who would make rice custard and those lovely kitchen hand towels, which would hang prettily in her very homely kitchen.
Sadly she passed before she could share her recipe, so I’m going to try yours, and she never taught me how to make the hanging tea towels. Do you have a pattern or tutorial to share?
I look forward to your next blog

Judy1522 said...

I am fortunate to be the one that ended up with a cookbook put together by one of my grandmothers and it has recipes she cut out of magazines as well as some of her handwritten ones. The ones she cut from magazines I don't know if she ever made but the handwritten ones she made around the holidays.
I will have to ask my kids what meals they remember from childhood. I do know that they have always loved my spaghetti recipe. It came from a recipe book I was given for a Christmas gift as a teenager but after making it a few times I modified it to make it my own way. I actually have never written it down so it is made from memory.
Your children are fortunate that you are making so many things to be cherished by them.

Anonymous said...

The grandmother of a former exchange student once made us a simple vanilla pudding with rhubarb sauce. So simple & yet the most delicious desert imaginable! Now when we have this here at home it brings memories back of that meal in Germany. - Diane from Minnesota

Susie said...

What a lovely and interesting post. It spiked some thought in my mind. I left home at 25 to live with my now husband and didn't know how to cook. It was all experimental. Obtain a recipe and follow the instructions. I didn't learn to cook at home as the few times I showed interest Mum would take over. We had a very tiny kitchen which was not at all conducive to cooking. Mum still has this kitchen and the bench space would be all of 30-40cm across, the stove top, sink and kitchen table (where the prep work was always done - you do get a sore back from bending over a kitchen table, I can tell you).
About six years ago (a while after I discovered I had coeliac disease) my hubby received a lovely bonus from work and we decided to purchase a thermomix. I didn't have a food processor, and my beaters were around $15 and didn't have any speed differentiation - just one speed - fast (so everything would splatter everywhere). This thermomix, whilst super expensive was a game changer in our household. I began to make things I would never have made. Because it's wise to cook everything from scratch with coealiac disease, this unit was so beneficial for the entire family. The health benefits were also huge. The timesaving was amazing. I also justified the purchase by the fact we pay an enormous amounts for an oven but would rarely use it every single day. Often I use my thermomix up three times a day. My eldest who is almost 14 has learn't to cook with this unit. She makes anything and everything now. I've also taught her to cook things on the stove but she makes the most delicious pesto but uses the thermomix to make the pesto with basil from the garden. We are so pleased we bought this item. I know it has had some bad press lately but I have the original (faulty) model and if you're super careful, it's fine. I'm comforted by the fact I know my daughter will be able to make and enjoy nutritious food for herself when she is older (the first thing she wants to do is save for a thermomix - oh dear) and am grateful for this unit which has enabled us to go on this cooking journey together (Charlotte has now graduated to the most amazing drip cakes - her first was at 12 yrs of age - they look and taste wonderful).

Material Girl said...

I still remember a chocolate chip loaf cake with chocolate frosting that my great grandmother used to make. We have the recipe but it doesn’t compare to the ones that she made. Aren’t we lucky to have such wonderful memories!

I tell my granddaughter that someday when I’m gone, she can wrap up in quilts that I made her and she will know that my arms are around her. She thinks I’m ancient at 62 and is afraid that she will lose me. Sounds funny but it’s so upsetting to her. I tell her that she should think about all the fun,wonderful things we did together.

Anonymous said...

Good things to think about. I don't have much from my mother. My children will have a lot of quilts to fight over. LOL I know my older son always wants Black Forest Cake for his birthday - he's wanted it since he was tiny. Chocolate cake, cherry pie filling, and cream cheese icing, same thing year in and year out. Well, it is good, of course! I remember a lot of my mother's and grandmother's recipes, too. I even have some of them in a book, but the ones that were best are made with no book needed, just like you. Thanks for sharing this post - now it reminds me that I have food to talk about when I next write in my family history journal!

Dee M said...

Years ago I found a recipe for Spinach Crepes in a magazine. Although easy to prepare it takes time to assemble. My 3 kids all loved it, and we’re thrilled when I took time to make it. I haven’t for quite some time now, but have been thinking about giving it a go for hubby and me, now that they are all on their own with kids themselves. Thank you for sharing your precious recipes with us, Jenny!

Nanna Chel said...

Jenny, my children always remember mum's roast as she used to bake it when we visited. I did buy a book to write recipes in for my children to find down the track so I really should get started on that. Unfortunately my sister cleaned out our parent's house when mum died as she had been looking after mum and she tossed mum's handwritten recipe book as she can't cook so it meant nothing to her. I should have thought to tell her to keep it but was busy with teenagers and work at the time and lived in another town. Too late now! Have a relaxing weekend.

Sharm said...

Morning Jenny - This is just a thought, but maybe you could write a list of the 14 days of meals your grandmother went by and pop it into a little frame to keep on the kitchen wall. I have a few things from my grandmother from when I had to clean out her unit when she moved into the pallative care unit - I kept things that seemed crazy to others - a pie dish, some of her floor mats, the bread board - my daughter was keen to keep the yellow jar that had held the peppermint lollies she was always offered when she came to visit. My children have various favourites that I made when they were small from Lemon slice to tomato relish!

Margaret said...

I asked my eldest daughter what would be her favourite food that I've cooked for the family over the years and the first thing that popped into her mind was samosas. Next she came up with full Indian meal, roast dinner and apple crumble or apple pie. One of my happy memories of food with my first three children was down by the river cooking an Indian potato bhagee and chapatis over an old kerosene stove - we always had raita with our Indian meals as well. I even made the chapati dough down by the river! So much more energy then ... or I was just crazy!!! My favourite dishes that my grandmother made were roast dinner, apple or rhubarb sponge, teacake and gem scones, scones, date and nut loaf and of course, pikelets. Nana was famous for her scones and pikelets. All five of my children love to have an Indian meal or roast dinner and they are pretty keen on my simple apple pie. I agree with you in keeping it simple, Jenny ... too much choice these days ... and not just in meals!

Angie in SoCal said...

When my three children had birthdays and were still at home I always asked them what they wanted for their birthday dinner. Daughter always asked for asparagus and a strawberry filled white cake. Son #1 asked for lamb chops and peach pie. Son #2 as for steak and a chocolate Black Forest cake.

Createology said...

Jenny Dear I love simple food and am not a fan of complicated “trendy” foods that leave me hungry and completely unsatisfied. Tonight’s dinner was baked whiite fish and steamed artichokes...delicious and nutritious. Your cooking always looks delicious and thank you for sharing your recipes. I love custards, rice puddings and bread puddings. My momma and Grandma were also simple cooks who fed their families well every day and on a very small budget. Lovely tea towels and your Tilda quilt is precious. Mr. E was quite the sweetheart to treat you to dinner out. Blessngs Dear...xo

Anonymous said...

Dear Jenny, I remember when you posted your Nan's rice pudding recipe, I have been making it ever since and it is greatly enjoyed by my husband. I enjoy all your posts and as a Christian I find them very encouraging. Thank you, Lyn

Karna O'Dea said...

Gosh Jenny your friends guest was a shocker. If you invited to a meal you eat what is given.

Thanks for remimding me of rice pudding my mum use to make many of your nanas custards

KingsailK said...

I so enjoyed this Jenny and all the Comments,I got my results of my mammography tonight all well!😊♥The Lord healed me of breast Cancer x2years ago.I tend now not to each much sugar ,and have joined a Praise group wirh young people in my church as singing boost the Immune system!.I am exhausted today as I was up early to feed our 3dogs!and then decided to finish off a felt picture called Mountain Pasture.Cleaned all kitchen,defrosted fridge,listened to Praise Music on radio.Hung out washing,walked one dog Mr Sam a spring er spaniel!A rescue dog of 1 year ,Bonnie our collie was away to Work with hubbie Mark.And olde Molly our Lab pottered about the house as I did things.Than you Jenny for such a relaxing read xxMary -Lou

Unknown said...

My grand daughters always ask for a traditional English meal! I would do anything for them so despite the temperature we get to it. I supervise, Zianna is head chef and Ruby Soux chef and on their last visit they made gramps 'toad in the hole' lol with baked beans, their menu. With floating islands for desert. Meringue gently placed in real egg custard. The picture on their faces are a joy.
I wrote a how to book for both my daughters in law with recipes passed down from my grans gran to me. Now my daughter in laws have started a recipe book for each girl with our family recipes and her family recipes, with lots of empty pages to add their own.
Not only has Renee done this she has put our family tree and her family tree beautifully done and inserted in to a plastic holder. We put photo's in where we could find them and pictures of the area in the UK for their dad's (our sons family). They were amazed that their dad was baptised (before I knew better) inn an Abbey in UK.