Who am I? And what do I eat?

It’s one thing to grow up being proud of a heritage ONLY to learn that there is more to the story. In my quick video, I had mentioned that my father was adopted. My grandmother was a single mother to my father when she met, fell in love with, and married my grandfather who was in the Navy. The family (her side) kept secret the identity of my father’s biological father. So much so that the secret has gone to everyone’s grave. I unknowingly kicked a hornet’s nest (with my mother but that’s for another post) and did the Ancestry DNA test. In the FAQs, it details which parents DNA you may receive. Apparently, I received more of my father’s DNA and who knew that he was Scottish and Swedish?! I also got my mother’s DNA with Norwegian and Irish. I am trying to embrace my heritage both new and old. With my husband learning that he is Norwegian as well I started with recipes from Norway. NORWEGIAN SUCCESS TART (SUKSESSTERTE) and NORWEGIAN BUTTER COOKIES (SERINAKAKER) were my first two actual attempts. I’m so thankful that these two sites posted Norwegian recipes. I was proud of what I was able to accomplish. My original idea was to use my great-great grandmother’s Krumkake iron to make those awesome delicate cone cookies but my mother squashed it. So I searched all over the internet and found these two recipes that would be simple for me to find all the ingredients here in the states.

The tart and the cookies didn’t last long at all and I felt like I was able to own some of my heritage. The tart had no flour! I was shaken, to say the least. I was able to make something so light and filling from just a few ingredients. The excitement happened when it tasted like something I already was familiar with but never had. Bonus-it looked just like the picture. The cookies were a simple cookie that I could easily make from scratch again and again! I know my father and great-great-grandmother would appreciate it. One thing I learned and felt while tasting the little treasures from my oven is the fact that I felt a sense of belonging but also coming from somewhere. I didn’t feel as lost anymore.

The Scottish recipes seem to be my nemesis. I cannot find for the life of me some recipes that are new and exciting to try and make at home. This was an interesting find for me in my DNA and it belongs to my father. He passed away 8 years ago and I would like to make something that helps me feel closer to him and our heritage. Until I am able to get my hands on a recipe or two from Scotland I am going to try my hand at recipes from Sweden…I just have to find them first.

My Plea: I’m asking for help. Anyone with family recipes from Norway, Scotland, or Sweden that they wouldn’t mind me trying to make myself I would greatly appreciate it. Know a friend of a friend whose grandmother LOVES to pass down tradition and wouldn’t mind passing on heritage and the stories that go with I would be grateful. Unfortunately, I do not have those living relative links, family ties, but would like to slowly build my own for my children and myself. I can’t get to see these beautiful countries and experience the culture first hand but I can start to build tradition at home. Please share and ask if there are any recipes.

How I Single-handedly Ruined Thanksgiving Dinner…

At least according to my 16-year-old daughter. (I wanted to start with some journal entries to feel like I’ve caught myself up on my blog so thank you for hanging in there with me) First and foremost…I know my mamaw was rolling over in her grave the minute that I received the confirmation email. Being a southern woman, wife, and mother there are some things that are expected of us and one of those things is cooking a from scratch holiday meal, every holiday,  until the day we die. Before we die we are to also make sure to pass down ANY AND ALL cooking knowledge to the next in line which is learned through cooking every holiday. This year I did something so completely radical that my kids are ready to throw out the ENTIRE Thanksgiving Holiday. It went something like this once I got the kids home from school, dinner started, homework in progress and answering phone calls:

ME (to kids): Announcement Everyone!! (I’m all smiles so they know it’s not bad news)
KIDS (gather in the kitchen)
ME (still smiling): I will not be cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year. (still smiling)
KIDS (uprising officially commencing): OOH WHAT!! Now we have to go to grandma’s and PRETEND to like her food and PRETEND to like her boyfriend. Then have NOTHING for leftovers when we get home! I don’t want to let’s back out!
ME (wishing I had the ability to yell ‘SHIELD WALL’ and have the Vikings to back me up): No No…we’ll have leftovers.
KIDS (uprising paused and puzzled looks): Are we cooking?
ME (Still wanting that shield wall): No one is cooking?
OLDEST DAUGHTER (takes lead with fire in her eyes): Are we not doing Thanksgiving at ALL?!
ME (she is my mini me…I can take her if she rushes me): I ordered Thanksgiving dinner so all we have to do is pick it up, heat and serve the day of.
KIDS (in unison): What!? *Moaning and groaning noises*, its tradition! You ALWAYS cook dinner and WE eat it!
OLDEST DAUGHTER: *Steps forward, Thanksgiving is RUINED! *Stomps off.

This is the basic rundown of the conversation. I didn’t need that shield wall but I did need to explain to them the reasoning behind the break in tradition. Time, my employer only allows one day off for the holiday and I would spend an entire week of prepping, cooking, and clean-up. With the hectic schedules that are in my house, I would be up until midnight or later. Budget is another reason for my decision. I can easily spend $200-300 on all the ingredients needed to make my authentic from scratch southern Thanksgiving dinner but ordering the already made dinner I am spending less than half of what I normally would. BONUS of ordering…unfortunately the place I ordered from is about an hour away. I know you’re thinking why waste time and gas? My husband and I haven’t had a decent night out without the kids. We are treating this as a little date night and the town that we are traveling too has a bunch of shops that we have been meaning to visit.

My oldest girl has been sulking since I told her what was happening. I compromised and agreed to use the china (She has to wash it since I wanted to use paper plates but this will also appease my ancestors). Instead of me running around, exhausted, and irritated with everyone we can have a nice meal and spend the quality time together that we have been missing. My advice to mom’s EVERYWHERE…make it easy for you. Break tradition if you have too. You are not ruining ANYTHING for your children. Looking back they’ll see that you were there and in the moment instead of in the kitchen killing yourself frantically trying to recreate your great grandmother’s recipes.

Image from Cracker Barrel

Bacon and Jam

It all started with a fun fact included in my daily doodle a couple of days ago.  An educational and delightful conversation ensued between myself and an excellent writer. I encourage you to wander through her words and read between the lines.

We discussed what weird food combinations we liked and how some were learned from a young age. You can follow along in the comments if you would like to try some that we listed. I chose toast smeared with jam and topped with bacon. I used white bread, smoke-cured bacon, and Smucker’s Strawberry Jelly. I know it’s probably not the type of ingredients that Liz uses but as promised, I tried.

The results: OH MY YUM!!! As I’m waiting for the masking fluid to dry (my first attempt at using that stuff) I thought it would be a perfect time. The salty smoke bacon aroma of the meat cooking woke everyone in the house. I let it cool and crumbled it. I have a weird thing about my toast needing to be cooled before the topping is added. In my impatience, I waved the toast in the air to cool faster. I smeared the jelly on and sprinkled crumbled bacon on top. My kids, ‘EWW mom what are you doing?’ My husband, ‘Umm please don’t try anything too disgusting.’ I took a bite and they all watched with bated breath. Yum sounds were all I could make.

I ended up sharing with everyone before they would make their own. So, I ask you:

What is your weirdest or oddest food mash-up that you eat?

I would enjoy the culinary adventure. If I can get enough writers, culinary adventurous cooks, and just people that love food-I would like to start a feature of these people once a week. They can include the history, images, and everything. I’m really excited about this. The reason being, you can learn more about cultures and people from food. It’s a way we show love and comfort one another.

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