Heritage...A to Z through our kitchen

Courtesy mmagallan at
In most everyone's kitchen, there are certain intangible objects that influence the way we cook. In our kitchen, heritage plays as much a part of our meal planning as a love of great food or a desire to experiment.

Harry's family is a blend of Danish and hills of eastern Kentucky. On my side of the fence, I have the roots of eastern Tennessee and the Canadian Maritimes. During our childhood years, we've found a constant. We both come from homes where both parents worked. For the most part, weeknight dinner was usually a meat, potatoes and some sort of vegetable. When Harry and I are short on time for cooking, we usually fall back to those heritage meals.

In my house, corned beef wasn't just for St. Patrick's Day. Mom loved a New England boiled dinner and we probably had it a few times a year. The smell of the slow cooking of the corned beef brisket would fill the house. Then, the aroma got turned up a few notches as Mom added cabbage and rutabaga along with carrots and potatoes. In all these years, 2012 will go down as the year that I finally believe I got my boiled dinner to turn out just like Mom's.

There weren't a lot of dinners Harry would like to repeat from his mother. He told me if he judged pizza by the first one she ever made - which was the first time he ever ate pizza - he never would have eaten it again! But, Harry loved his mother's meatloaf. Through most of my years, while I loved Mom's meatloaf, I was just never able to replicate it on my own. I'm sure the reason is that she has a recipe card somewhere that she still follows to the letter today.

Mom blended her fishing-village family's food heritage with that of Dad's family. Slow-fried southern style chicken with milk gravy. In the summer, I always looked forward to fried green tomatoes (just flour, salt & pepper - none of that batter crap!) and fried okra (these were fried in corn meal, salt and pepper - again no batter!). In the summer, we put up food for winter - strawberry freezer jam, green beans, tomato juice, freezer corn, Lady Ashburn pickle relish.

Through our years, our tastes have changed. Our travels have led us to enjoy foods from around the country and around the world. But, our family heritage still finds its way into our kitchen.

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