LET’S COOK: The family funnel
This past weekend had me recalling kitchen memories as Lydia asked to make Key lime pie. Her first request late on Friday evening came with a joint “no” from Jan and me. We could not have rehearsed our answer any better it was brought on by the Mount Everest pile of dishes on our well-used kitchen counter.
Take two Saturday morning we tackle the task to reveal the counter, and the first words uttered by Lydia as she enters the kitchen in her pink pajamas, “Oh, so now I can make my pie.” Kitchens in my life have always been anchored tightly to family connections, well-used utensils, stories, and a path to creating a delicious meal. As a parent it is magnificent to see this pattern starting to be repeated with Lydia. I will admit that seven hours of sleep, a clean kitchen, and strong coffee created the green light for making key lime pie.
The home cooking that Jan and I do reveals triumphs orchestrated by the guiding wisdom of our mothers. They were present through the trials of bread making, disappointments with the mixer, failures with the meringues, and discord with tough pork chops. We both feel blessed that our moms have been a powerful educational source for kitchen knowledge, and that they knew engaging young minds with family meals can shed light well beyond the red gingham tablecloth.
While learning to stir, mix and blend, there were stories that our moms shared, kitchen bowls and utensils that their mothers used, and, yes, even guidance on issues that we faced. They had much to leverage by connecting us to the kitchen, as our helping hands joined in easing kitchen duties. It was also a win for them because as we know young people have boundless energy, and often that was channeled into wonderful kitchen clean ups including polishing copper bottoms of kettles!
Jan has many favorite recipes from her mom and her Grandma Lydia. This past Christmas, Lydia took the time to retype these recipes into a larger format for Grandma Delores to use in her daily cooking. It was rewarding to hear Lydia about not only ask about the instructions of each recipe, but the history as well. Needless to say, when Grandma Delores opened this special gift, the three of us received it as well.
I never knew my mom’s mother, Lydia, as she passed away long before I was born. I did come to know much about her through time spent in the kitchen with my mom. One of the items that my mom had and treasured from her mother was a simple metal canning funnel. It was given to my mom when she was working her way through school and found employment by doing housework for families in Minneapolis. My mom mentioned that her mom felt that families would often have leftovers and that this funnel would make easy placement of them in jars.
The canning funnel is a sturdy, heavy metal one with a crimpled rounded lip. It was given to me by mom in fall of 1987 when I attended photography school in Massachusetts. While there I worked with a family for room and board which involved cooking. So the useful funnel has traveled from Mercer, to Minneapolis, to Underwood, to Turners Falls, MA, to Rugby, and now to Minot.
I never had the chance see my Grandma Lydia cook, hear her laugh, or see her attending her flowers, but when I pick up this funnel, I often just hold it close for a minute and recall the generations of gone by cooking it has known. I feel that mom and Grandma Lydia have left me a wonderful and handy gift and that someday another Lydia will think the same.
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