The Art of Tradition

The world is moving forward in hyperspeed.  I love the advancements of technology and all the things we can do on our phones, computers, and tablets.  You can search everything to find a “how to” video. Any recipe out there, including “copycat” recipes, can be found online.  The methods I want to learn are my family recipes from my childhood. 

One of the things I cherish most with my mother is her dedication to tradition.  Even though my parents divorced when I was in middle school, my mother honors the family traditions my dad’s family has to this day.  She learned their family recipes and quite honestly, aside from my grandmother, I think she makes some of the recipes better than anyone else. Disclaimer: My dad’s sauce is phenomenal, he just doesn’t make it often. That was a hint, dad.

Mum is a master in the kitchen, and I know that cooking for all of us is one of her love languages.  When I got married and moved to England, I would call and ask for all of her recipes because I had ZERO ideas what I was doing in the kitchen. Mac and Cheese came in a blue box and soup in a can. Plus at that point, we didn’t even have a home computer or internet, so mum was the go-to person for everything. Many of the phone calls started with, “How do you make…” You have to also understand that a lot of our recipes are difficult to replecate because we don’t measure. It’s based on taste, texture and aroma.

She taught me everything, and it appears I am blessed with the knack of cooking as well…  Its often you’ll hear my family say “I can make that.”  We learned it from my grandmother (mum’s mom). My mum, Aunts and I often laugh because when we say it, we remember a specific conversation, around a campfire, enjoying a sip of Scrumpy Jack at our annual camp out when after sipping her cider, my grandmother said: “We can make this.”  Coming from an impoverished family with a gazillion kids my grandmother, who was the caretaker of all her siblings,  made everything from scratch as cheaply as possible.  Soups, homemade bread, and traditional nationality food were what I grew up eating.

I am half Italian and half Ukranian/German, so the landscape of food that is in my arsenal is vast.  Between homemade “Junk” Sauce and pasta, I know how to make many things homemade the way my family taught me.

Pierogi Day!!

Last Saturday was a Pierogi day with my Mum.  When I arrived at her house, she was ready to go!  Dough made, filling made and production area set.  We hit the ground running and cranked out 12 dozen pierogies in 3 hours.

We’ve perfected our technique, and of course, there are a million YouTube videos and recipes on the perfect Pierogi recipes.  Its all subject to where you’re the family originated.  We typically make Potato, Sourkraut and this year she made Lekvar (plum pierogies) for my cousin. I have a few other favorites such as red cabbage and Apple, baked potato and Mediterranian.

We spend most of the time chatting and catching up on life.  My mother has always given me kind words of wisdom that I may or may not listen to at the time.  She is quite the story teller. We talk about my grandmother and what it was like growing up with such a large family. We just enjoy each other’s company. We laugh at the amount of flour we’re both covered in when its all said and done.  The pierogies session was broadcast in Texas! 1/3 Facetimed us while she was doing chores. 1/3 lives 1500 miles away, yet technology made it possible for her to be right there with us. She entertained us with her banter, noises, and singing.

The time spent with my mum and daughter are what I cherish most from that day. We have pierogies frozen for the holidays and whenever we want them. We’re going to share our recipe and continue the traditions so that future generations will understand that even though we can buy it frozen, sometimes the Art of Tradition makes more of an impact on family and friends.

I’d love to learn some of your family traditions and how you keep them alive!

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