A Recipe for Togetherness



When my oldest son got married, I so wanted to be close to my new daughter-in-law, but it just didn't seem to happen. When their first child came along, I thought, now we'll get close, now we'll find so much to share. But, it just didn't happen. It wasn't until they had three children and Jenny began to do a lot of cooking that our relationship changed.

Just before Thanksgiving a few years ago, Jenny called. She wanted my recipe for stuffing. Well, I'm not the kind of cook that actually writes something down, and I don't follow a recipe, so I had to give her the scoop on how to make her husbands favorite stuffing which starts out with homemade cornbread (absolutely necessary for making mouthwatering stuffing) step by step. Jenny was so pleased when she shared her stuffing at Thanksgiving Dinner. Everyone raved about it. I hate to admit it, but I think it was actually better than mine! That was the day that Jenny and I truly became family.

Over the next few years, it became more difficult for my mother to host all the family gatherings so we began all sharing the work by bringing some of the dishes for special occasions. Jenny became much more at ease cooking the special dishes that our families loved so one year she decided to host Thanksgiving. Cooking with Jenny, my daughter, my youngest sons's wife and my mother was the highlight of my day. Three generations were cramed in a small kitchen while eight kids were being mismanaged by the men. It was glorious!

I may have taught Jenny how to prepare some very good food but this experience taught me a much more valuable lesson. When you share a treasured family recipe, you hand over a tradition and you give that person a sense of belonging.

I've spent many special times in the kitchen with my family since then. It also makes me remember recipes I learned from my granny that I hold dear in my heart but freely pass on to my girls.

My granny raised 12 children on not much more than hope and prayers. To say she was a great cook is a terrible injustice. I usually had to share her with at least a dozen cousins during our summer visits, but one year I "went back home" for a wedding and it was just me and granny for three whole days. One cold November morning, I woke to the smell of coffee perking and bacon frying. Granny had covered me with so many quilts and the mattress was so soft that I didn't know if I'd have the strength to climb out of bed. Once up, I was treated to a "light" breakfast of hot rice cereal, biscuits and gravy, and of course fried eggs and bacon. That afternoon she began cooking supper. That's when she taught me how to make the best candied sweet potatoes that ever crossed lips.

Those sweet potatoes are present at nearly every gathering we have as a family. I just wished I would have had more time to spend learning more of my granny's recipes. 

What "Granny" recipes have you shared with your loved ones and what kind of traditions do you pass on to your family members?