It is a second marriage for me. A friend once told us that a second marriage family is not like a “smoothie” or a milk shake. Things aren’t so smooth and creamy. A blended marriage is more like “a blizzard”. That mixture where some hard candies remain hard and frozen, determined to not whip together. But, then, that’s true of most all families as well.
Ken and I met later in life, after our children were mostly raised. He raised seven of his. I raised six. We dated a year and a half, before we married. That was almost seven wonderful years ago. That’s how we got those 43 grandchildren and 4 greats.
However, because our children were out of the home, and all spread out through a large area, they don’t have many things in common, most of our get-togethers all either with “his” children or with “mine”. Even after these years and almost monthly activities with extended family, some might not recognize each other if they passed on the street. It’s not a necessity that they know one another, but we have desired to create some memorable experiences that would give them more in common.
There are many things that we could plan that might bond people and create shared memories. I might list:
Sharing beliefs (They do not all have the same or even similar beliefs) and battles, having common foes or allies (that would probably be parents). They might share some music choices, shopping and lifestyles (but, they are raised children, with their own children, rather spread out and they are all so very different). Then there is that common binder of sharing activities and experiences together, especially surviving trials and tough times (We might try that sometime, but the thought of gathering some seventy or more folks out into the wilderness
for a campout sounds mighty frightening). We are still working on some possible ideas in the future.
So far we’ve stuck to separate family parties for the most part, inviting those who wish to come to any party or get together. The thing we have found that is the greatest and easiest form of camaraderie is food. Food is the most magical “glue” of all times. “If you feed them, they will come!”, for the most part.
Food gives comfort, a sense of exploration, surprise, and offers creativity…I could continue.
A family friend, put together a “Friends and Family” cookbook, complete with a picture and “blurb” about the donator of each recipe. It’s in a loose leaf binder, so you can add to the treasury over time. I thought, Wow! What a good idea! I can gather recipes from all sides of our families and include little spotlights about each of the family members, with fun stories and good eating. This is my current project.
My husband is from the Florida Alabama area originally. He comes with a wealth of Southern traditions and memorable family recipes. Of course we had to begin with the legendary “Camp Stew”. A southern recipe talked about often at family gatherings. It will probably never be stir up by any descendants, but is a hoot to read. It starts out: Take one hogs head cut down the middle between the eyes (discard eyes, brain and outer ears) Add 4 chickens…..
I’m from Utah pioneer stock. Some of our old recipes probably would have suggested ways to cook the “Hog’s head brains” and anything else, because we were taught to never waste anything. Growing up on the farm, my Grandfather even used the lids off the cans to mend the holes in the shed roofs. I could probably write a book on one hundred and one things to do with a potato. We don’t have a lot of handed down food experiences, but we have a lot of family and great crowd pleasing recipes.
Barbara has been the “keeper of food treasures” for Southern Traditions. Lucky for us, she was willing to share. Hush puppies, biscuits, homemade ice cream, pecan pies.
Each time we visit the Southern states, and family there we try to collect a few more recipes to share with our Northerner family and friends.
On this summer’s Alabama trip, we were lucky enough to add Ova D’s prized recipe for Old Fashioned Pound Cake and Michelle’s recipe for The Preacher’s wife’s Red Velvet Cake. We also found a hard to find recipe for Lane Cake and a Cajun Tartar Sauce that makes you stand up and take notice. It was a wonderful trip which required two weeks of dieting after we got home to undo the residual effects of the feasting.
Although, we have no “traditional recipes” in our pioneer ancestry,
My family and friends can pipe in some great taste treats themselves:
Beautiful Badham Baked Beans, Erin’s especially great chocolate chip cookies, Artful ways with Crysta’s Artichokes Dip, Mikel’s Pear and Walnut Salad, Aunt Bess’ Mississippi Mud pie, Mom McKean’s Mouth Watering Freezer Chocolates, Karen’s Crab Lou Wee and Seale’s “situation” slaw (the situation being lots of people to feed and little money to work with). I could go on and on, but it’s making me hungry.
We will also throw in some photos of great-great grandma and her early contribution..even though bacon grease and lard might require some modification now days, and no one will spend 7 days making her homemade pickles.
Every time we have family reunions, or get-togethers, we try to share and gather even more of those wonderful treasured recipes.
I know all the bad things about using food as a crutch and “food” making us fat….Well everything in life must be kept in balance, but I’m here to tell you..It can’t be all bad….you might even develop some healthy family treasured recipes.
The upside is that shared recipes and food experiences
fill -in the empty and awkward moments.
Food suppresses negative feelings, so I might as well use those facts to my advantage. “Good Food” might be the answer to “World Peace”! It certainly connects me to the past generations, as I prepare the same cake and frosting, my husband loved when his Grandmother made it.
The down side of food is the weight problems and death from too much of a good thing, but that’s something I’m willing to discuss at another time.
Enjoy the family, food, parties and recipes,
and begin the walking exercises,
before you try running.