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Sharing is Caring – Kitchens, Recipes, and Family

By Karen Everett Watson, Legacy Writer

Just a few generations ago, in the land that we call America, women spent many hours together cooking, sharing recipes, family stories – laughing and even, sometimes crying – together. We made a lot of gains in this old world – women now feel free to work and be educated, but not all of the trade-offs are wonderful. Many of those home cooked meals, we once regularly enjoyed, have been replaced with fast food and restaurants. The food is not nearly as scrumptious or nutritious, but we’ve also lost that time in the kitchen where we learned about Great Aunt Sally’s stuffing recipe, figured out how to accomplish world peace, and mended many teenage daughters’ broken hearts.

As the holidays approach, we all begin to think of the delicious recipes we’ve enjoyed over the years. Many are family originals, or at least, family-tweaked recipes that are beloved by the whole clan. For you, caregivers to older women, this time of year is the perfect time to get your loved one back into that kitchen, and pull those famous recipes from their minds, before time takes that away, too.

A few years ago, my own daughter-in-law, asked me for my stuffing recipe. I was delighted. She told me that no other recipe would do, because Isaac wanted hers to taste just like mine. Since then, Jenny and I have made my “almost famous hot rolls” together and the family gathering favorite – Polenta and Stew. Whether or not the recipes are preserved, the memories we made working together in the kitchen will last my whole life through.

For older women, who spent many years preparing meals for their families, you could not give them a bigger compliment than to ask for the family recipes. But don’t cheat yourself, or them. Get them into the kitchen and you will discover the real secrets to their favorite dishes. More than that, you will give them a sense of purpose. You’ll give each other, memories to last forever.

One of my cherished memories was learning to make candied sweet potatoes with my granny. She raised 12 children almost single-handedly. It’s a good thing she loved to cook and could make beans and cornbread taste like a feast. She had a slew of grandchildren which I usually had to share her with during our summer visits. But one year, I had her all to myself. I had gone for a visit during the winter months and I felt so special to spend time with just her.

I always gained 10 pounds when I visited my granny. For breakfast she’d make bacon, eggs, biscuits and gravy, plus rice that she soaked all night and served with butter, cream, and sugar. We usually didn’t have room for lunch but dinner was started early. For the sweet potatoes, she started by boiling them until they just started getting tender. Then she took out a big iron skillet and melted a cube of butter over low heat. She peeled and sliced the sweet potatoes, then fried them in the butter. Last, she covered them with a box of brown sugar until the whole thing bubbled into a gooey delight. The sweet potatoes had crispy edges and tasted better than any desert. I make them every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Granny’s been gone for decades, but my memories of being in her kitchen and the taste of her candied sweet potatoes will endure.

New Years resolutions for better senior health

Written by Minerva Navarro, M.D. Published in the Los Altos Town Crier Soon the holiday season will be over and many of us will start thinking about our New Year resolutions. Staying healthy often comes at the top of our lists. We know what we need to do to take care of ourselves, but sometimes […]

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