Farmmom and I have been playing with old recipes putting together a cook book recently (yes it will be available to purchase and we're looking at doing more in the future) so I've been thinking a lot about the women who have gone before.
Today happens to be the birthday of one of them.
Sugar (yep, pretty much everybody called her that) was one of those old pioneer women that you just couldn't repress, and she was happiest in the kitchen whipping up tons of food for those she loved.
I was probably ten before she could be convinced to let anyone else take care of most of a holiday family meal, and she had grave misgivings about it even then. It wasn't that she didn't think the rest of the family could cook or that she didn't trust them in the kitchen, that was just her thing.
It didn't help that it was decided to have roasted cornish game hens instead of something more traditional.
She saw the little birds and asked "Where in the world did you find such scrawny chickens? I hope they were cheap!"
Farmmom told her they weren't chickens and they'd be tasty, just wait.
"We'll what are they then? They're not quail, I know that much."
Farmdad, being Farmdad, told her "They're pigeons. You told me there were too many of them roosting in the shop at the farm so I went out and shot a few."
Now, Sugar was convinced that pigeons were nothing but flying rats and no more fit to eat than prairie dogs, so she was less than impressed.
She couldn't stay out of the kitchen after that though. She'd sneak in to check on stuff. Personally I think she was checking on what foods might be contaminated via proximity by the "pigeons."
She did try it though, and declared pigeon pretty tasty. Farmdad told her it wasn't actually pigeon eventually, but from then on every so often for a holiday meal shed ask if we could have pigeon again.
She was a lively, intelligent, wonderful woman, who would have turned 106 today. I am immensely grateful for everything she taught me about life, including how to roll with the punches and make it work, with her tales of the dust bowl.
She taught me how to bake, to never be afraid to experiment with new things even if they don't turn out that well (the cupcakes baked in ice cream cones just never did work out the way she wanted them to, no matter how hard she tried) and that the secret ingredient is always love.
She also taught me by example to express my creative side and that it's worth the effort if it makes just one person smile, even if it's just yourself.
She took baked goods to the nursing home and made crafts for her family and friends. Anything from miniature thermal underwear made up of two intact pairs of tube socks to silk flowers with anatomically incorrect centers. (Ass-ters, pee-tunias, pussy-willows, and boob-gonias. She made the centers out of pantyhose and cotton batting.)
She was a rock and a soft place to land all in one and I will carry the lessons and the skills she taught me throughout my life. In fact, I recently found a quilting ring and a pillow top that I had begun many, many years ago, and started working on it again. I'm out of practice and my stitches aren't nearly as invisible as hers were, but ill get it back. Maybe one day I'll have the guts to break out the quilting rack she used for real quilts and start something big. I have a long way to go and plenty of practice material though. We have totes full of pillow top squares that she had picked out, so I shouldn't run short any time soon.
Happy Birthday, Sugar, we love and miss you.