Monday, December 28, 2009

Preserving Family Food Traditions- A Priceless Gift

If you have been reading my blog for awhile, you know that the initial inspiration for starting a blog was to preserve family recipes and traditions for my 6 children. When I think back to my own childhood, many recipes that I would consider heirlooms from my family and friends have been lost. To the extent I can I do try to pass on the stories that go with the food traditions of my family, even if I don't have the recipes like how my Grandmother Knighting cracked scores of black walnuts for her famous applesauce cakes that she made as gifts. Even though money was very tight for her she would not compromise- English walnuts would not substitute. And despite her arthritis, she used cast iron bundt pans that gave her cakes a deep color, richness, and moistness that I have not been able to recreate with any recipe. Or how my Grandfather McKinney, who had been a cook in the National Guard, always made us breakfast when we were at my grandparents' home (we always requested SOS (shit on the shingle) because it was the only time we could say that word!). And how my Grandmother McKinney was an incredible bread and pie baker, and she would take the pie crust scraps and let me and my brothers spread them with jam or peanut butter and roll them up to make pinwheel cookies.Or how our neighbor in Hilton Village, Mrs "D", made me an apple pie (the best I have ever had) when I returned from the hospital after Andrew was born that was so good it made me want to get pregnant again.How about how my dad's favorite expression when something was really good was "It will make your tongue slap your brains out!"

This year for Christmas, my oldest daughter Colleen(Left, the blonde with her sister, NOT eating my food!) took this to the next level. Before Christmas, she sent us all a questionnaire with questions about food memories, favorite recipes and the like. We became more and more curious about how the information was going to be used and the answer was truly impressive. We all had to open our gift from Colleen at the same time under the tree so that the surprise would not be spoiled. She presented each of us with a binder that was covered with a version of the Dowd Family crest with some of the crossed swords and maces supplanted by mixing bowls and wooden spoons. Inside was a special introduction that choked me (and some of the siblings) up about how special our family is and how much she hopes that we hold to the traditions we have established over the years.Inside the book are recipes and stories she pulled from each family member's responses to the survey. She pulled from my blog and threw in some of her own recipes and stories as well. And to make sure the book is a living document, she established an email group with all of us as members where we can share new recipes or stories that we remember so that they are not lost and everyone can share. It was a very special and thoughtful gift, for everyone who received one, but particularly touching for me. To hear how important those memories are to my children and how much they treasured them and wanted to share and preserve them really touched my heart.

I guess I am sharing this since it has to do with food and family, two very important topics on this blog but also to encourage you to think about doing something similar as well. Whether it is a binder or a website, take the time and effort to save those special traditions for your family, it is a priceless gift that they will treasure forever. And a special thanks to Colleen for pulling it all together and to all those who provided their input to make the Dowd Family Recipes unique and special!


Cynthia said...

Happy New Year!

gemini said...

great idea...i think am gonna follow this. happy new year...visiting by.

Deborah Dowd said...

Cynthia- Thanks so much and a great new year ahead to you and yours as well!

gemini-It was an inspired idea, and your family will really appreciate it!

Doodles said...

I absolutely love gifts like this...........need to think about something like this for friends next year.

Happy New Year to you!!!