September 13, 2006

Passing on Traditions

My boss recently put together a radio segment for our Rural Issues Forum program that I thought many of you would enjoy, titled. "Who'll make the gravy?" This program made me think how lucky I was to have parents and grandparents teach me the simple things in life.

Like to cook squash and zucchini, growing herbs, baking the perfect chocolate chip cookies and how to be adventurous in making new recipes.

I have talked a lot about learning to cook old fashioned recipes from my mother and grandmothers before...from sweet potatoes to biscuits. I am amazed how many people my age don't know how to cook or prepare so many meals that our parents and their parents lived on.

For instance, one of my girlfriends calls me just about everytime she cooks anything...about twice per week. She called the other day and asked me how to make mashed potatoes! I laughed. "Well, "I said, "boil your potatoes until they are done."

"Done? she asked.

"Yes, they are done when you stick a fork in them and they are soft." I replied.

"Soft, how soft?" she asked.

"Umm..." I thought to myself how do I explain this? "The fork will easier slide through the potatoes, you will know."

After giving my friend further instructions on the ingredients and the perfect mashing techniques I felt as though she could make her mashed potatoes.

It's amazing how many of the easiest recipes so many young people today have no idea how or where to begin. Why were they not taught? Why weren't the lessons learned? How will grandma's sweet potato recipe be taught to future grandchildren and family members?

I am in the process of recording all of my mothers and soon, my mother-in-laws family recipes. Because someday I might be the only one that knows how to make my mother's famous fried chicken...or my mother-in-laws wonderful shrimp and fettuccine.

Think about it...those cherished secret family recipes could be lost if our young adults and children are not given the opportunity to have traditions passed onto them.

Don't let those traditions be lost....


Jean said...

Two years ago for Christmas my mom made each of us kids (I'm the youngest out of 5) cookbooks with all her famous recipes. She didn't even include the Irish one's that we've grown up with. That's for another Christmas. I use that cook book ALL the time. I love it b/c she put in comments where she got the recipe or where my grandma got it from or just a bit of history. On the front and back are a collage of pictures of my mom's family and then of my dad's family. I love this book! I cherish it SOO much, more than any of the other cook books I have.

And you are right. I'm so glad I was taught the "old fashioned" way of cooking. I think people are surprised that I make a meal from scratch almost every night (except the nights where it's mac and cheese and hot dogs). :) and I need some sane time. :)

Good Ole Cook said...


I'm so glad you shared that story! Family cookbooks are the best of all! That is my project for next year - to do one for each side of my family.

And, don't feel least once a week my husband and I have mac and cheese or ramen noodles for dinner...everyone needs a break... :)

Thanks for reading!

Jean said...

I can imagine it's a lot of work putting a cook book together! Good luck with doing that!!

Ahhh yes...Ramens. :)
Have a great Thursday!

Anonymous said...

Your post is right-on, Lane. I feel the same way, but from a different perspective. Our family didn't cook too much at home so I didn't get the recipes nor the training, and it is slightly saddening to me. Good luck with the cook book!


Teresa said...

Oh, I wish I had all my mother's and granny's recipes. There have been so many times in the past when I should have asked for a recipe but didn't and now it's too late. Thank you for sharing your recipes!

Sara said...

My sister in law is only a few years younger than me. Last time they were over for dinner we had angel food cake with berries and whipped cream for dessert. She came in the kitchen while I was whipping the cream and asked me what that white stuff was. She had never seen real whipped cream before, only the stuff out of the can.

When my grandmother died I looked through her kitchen for any recipes that I could take home to keep those memories of her cooking alive. We never found any; it was all in her head I guess.

Good Ole Cook said...


That's what I've foudn with my grandma and mother a lot's all in their head. It's been difficult to get many of their recipes becuase then they have to sit and measure everything out, wich is actually funny becuase they have such a hard time doing so.

I'm still waiting on the recipe for my mother's corn bread, she can't ever get it right when she tries to measure it out for me!

Anonymous said...

Dear, Dear Lane. How wonderful and respectful you are with the matriarch of your family, this is something that I will always cherish. Also I can remember my grandmother take the simplest ingredients from the pantry and make gorgeous meals that perfumed the entire house sooooooooo wonderfully, "Yes" she did not use any measurements and I do not remember her using any recipe books. all her meals was done from experience and ingenuity. Keep-up with the beautiful articles that you write.