My father had four mainstays in his kitchen repertoire. As a young boy, I could easily identify Saturday and Sunday mornings by the location of the electric skillet. Saturday mornings, Pop would place the electric skillet in the middle of the table and cook pancakes with each round timed to arrive on everyone’s plates when the previous round had been eaten. The first two rounds didn’t need any oil because he cooked a strip of bacon per person first, and the grease was all that was needed to loosen the first two rounds of pancakes. We were a family of four, and a square, electric skillet conveniently cooks four pancakes at a time. Summer was special because the pancakes would be decorated with blueberries. The whole dynamic changed when he got his first waffle iron circa 1986, and pancakes practically disappeared from the house.
On Sunday mornings, Pop would set up the electric skillet in the kitchen (more…)
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One of my most vivid memories of my dad in the kitchen is his turkey soup. As I recall, he only made it right after Thanksgiving, but it made enough that it would last into spring. There is a lot of soup-making wisdom out there, but this was old-school soup. Folklore-style soup. I am quite sure there was no recipe, but each year’s batch turned out pretty much the same.
After stripping the roasted turkey carcass of most of the meat, it then went into a giant stainless-steel pot with water, carrot, onion, celery, and spices (not sure which). I don’t think I ever watched him concoct this soup from the beginning, so I can’t be sure of the particulars, but I know these are the basics. Either way, it boiled all day. It boiled to the point of steaming up the upstairs windows. It boiled to the point that my clothes would smell like turkey soup when I went to school the next day.
In the pot, the soup turned into a translucent pale-yellow primordial conglomeration of vegetables, dried herbs, and turkey bits. The surface of the swirling brew would occasionally be broken by a disarticulated turkey bone. It was kind of scary. Egg noodles usually went in at the end. The bones were removed and dinner was served.
I remember never being terribly crazy about the soup – the little turkey bits freaked me out as a kid. Now, though, I would give anything to taste it again. I have since tried to make turkey soup myself, but it wasn’t the same – I overthought it. To make the turkey soup in my memory, you have to not care too much and just go for it. And boil the snot out of the poor bird.
That giant pot still smells like turkey soup.
I remember as a child that I used to cook on special occasions for my mother. I don’t remember many of the particulars and which siblings joined me in these endeavors, but the result would be a bed tray delivered to my mother with newspaper, coffee and some conglomeration of edibles on it and a messy kitchen.
Thirty years later, the kitchen on B Street was perfect for my daughter and myself to, unknowingly at the time, start a tradition of the cooking of carrot cake to be eaten at the end of my wife’s birthday dinners. This became a tradition due to the maxim known as ‘if you don’t get it right the first time…try, try again’. (more…)
Do you have a family food tradition that you associate with your father, grandfather, or other male relative? Are you a dad that has stories about cooking with your kids? We are collecting stories, memories, recipes, and photos featuring men in your family food tradition. Send us a message or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. Submissions will be uploaded every Saturday. We look forward to reading your story!
When I think of my father cooking I think of camping and waking up to the smell of coffee and bacon. Crawling out of the canvas tent I’d find my father at the camp stove cooking bacon and eggs for us, frying the eggs in the bacon grease. It was always delicious. As my father used to say everything tastes delicious when you’re camping. And when you’re camping on the sand dunes in Delaware it usually had at least a little bit of sand in it. When it was time to wash the dishes the sand was always handy for scouring the pots, but first one of us would be sent to the pump for water. The first few pumps nothing came out, then eventually it did and we’d fill the jugs and haul them back to the campsite where some would be heated on the stove and my mother would use it to wash the tin camping dishes in the wash basin.
Some days, after spending the morning on the beach playing with the waves and collecting shells (more…)
One of my most cherished childhood memories is waking up on Saturday morning to Crosby, Still, Nash, and Young or Bob Dylan blaring from the record player. The reason for the early morning awakening – cleaning the house – was definitely not the best part of my week. And while it might not have actually been that “early” in the morning at all, I was being awoken fairly regularly and with the explicit intent of doing chores. Yet despite what you might think, I always looked forward to these mornings.
In my house, music blaring from the record player generally meant “breakfast is served” and “dad’s cooking.” (more…)
If you’ve read the “About Us” section of this blog, you already know that K & E are both anthropologists (an archaeologist and ethnomusicologist respectively) and as such, are very interested in historic and contemporary people and their cultures. We’re also avid foodies, and while we dream about opening our own restaurant, for now our interactions with food and cooking are primarily as hobbyists.
Last semester, however, K had the opportunity to teach a class on food cultures of the world. In addition to learning new information and discovering great new recipes, we also learned a lot about how the students approached and understood food within their own cultures. As part of the course, students were asked to write a paper about an important family recipe. They were required to write the recipe, describe its preparation, and also explain its larger importance within the family. Many wrote about holiday traditions or special occasion meals (recipes ranging from Italian-American lasagna to Mexican tamales and Vietnamese banh mi), and either about how and when they learned to prepare the recipe, or fond memories they have surrounding eating the final product. (more…)