Skip to main content

A Recipe for Tasty Memories

In 2001, my partner and his mother compiled a family cookbook comprised of recipes that were favorites and handed down from one generation to another. To keep the recipes together, instead of scattered in other cookbooks and personal recipe boxes – the book was created.
I was asked to write the introduction to the book. I thought about traditions, special meals and how food plays a role in our celebrations. In the spirit of the holiday season and Thanksgiving, I am posting the introduction that I wrote thirteen years ago.
Also, family members were asked to write a recollection of a certain meal or type of food that brought back special memories. I thought of my grandmother and how she introduced me to chicken livers at an early age. This story is also included.
May the tastes and scents of your favorite foods contribute to your celebration and provide lasting memories - Happy Holidays!
Remember, as a child, waking up on a holiday morning with the smells of your mom’s cooking creeping up the stairs? Your mother had already been up for hours creating the day’s feast. You lay in bed savoring the aroma, and thought of your favorite part of the meal. Your mouth watered at the thought of that special dish being created downstairs with love.
You couldn’t wait to bite into that jellyroll that completed every Passover meal, or pile your plate high with potato latkes during your Chanukah celebration. Whipped cream on top of the Thanksgiving pumpkin pie would be wonderful, and you always needed an extra side dish for that generous portion of the Christmas cranberry relish. 
All those special recipes passed down through generations bring back memories. When you think of a favorite food, meal or snack, it usually includes a memory of the time, place and people you enjoyed it with. Family celebrations and impromptu get-togethers always included a special meal. It was a time to share stories and break bread. 
As your ancestors packed their belongings to travel to America, they made sure they brought their family recipes and their finest cooking utensils. Their style of eating was part of a tradition and a heritage. While you grew up with bagels and knishes, others had pasta and wedding soup, corned beef and cabbage or rice noodles and shrimp. 
Food preparation and combining the right ingredients became something parents could pass down to their children. It was a form of bonding, communication and love. Learning to make the perfect matzo ball or roll the perfect piecrust was something that could be shared by mother and daughter, father and son, and grandparents and grandchildren. As you were handed that tattered recipe card to add to your cooking repertoire it became a symbol of heritage, family and the continuity of generations. 
This book was designed to share the love of food and family, and the memories both bring. The pages contain recipes that have been handed down from family, shared between friends or clipped from pages of other cookbooks. They have become part of your family’s menus, and they have brought pleasure to your taste buds. The ingredients combine to tell a story of who you are as a member of your family, and how your individual tastes have contributed to and influenced those around you.
Your recipes are meant to be shared and savored by those you love. These pages will do that by sharing a legacy that is your “family cookbook.” 

Most people will tell you that eating liver is an acquired taste. It is something you either like or you don’t, rarely is there a middle ground. I grew up thinking chicken livers were a real treat. It wasn’t until I got older that people would look at me in disgust when I said I loved liver. Who knew I was part of a minority?

When I was a child my grandmother lived with my family. She was a very good cook and would often prepare the big Sunday dinner. I remember one of her specialties was Chicken Pot Pie. It was stewed chicken in chicken stock gravy with homemade dough dumplings. Chicken Pot Pie was a real comfort food. It was something for a cold winter’s day that would warm your belly and stick to your ribs and unfortunately your thighs.

When my grandmother would cook the chicken, she would save the liver for my sister and I. We would anticipate when we would get to eat it. She would place it on a small plate and announce it was ready. My sister and I would split it, but sometimes we would fight over it if it didn’t seem to be enough.  What a treat, a succulent piece of liver lightly salted and still warm from cooking waiting to be eaten. If you were lucky there would be a small piece of onion stuck to it from the chicken stock.

To me this was a real delicacy and a great Sunday treat. It was something special that we didn’t have everyday. I would gladly have accepted a Christmas stocking full of chicken livers. That’s how much I loved them.

Another part of the chicken liver routine would be for my grandmother to prepare extra dough when making her dumplings. The extra dough was for us to play with. She would call us into the kitchen and give us a big lump of dough. I remember laying it out on the kitchen table and using her rolling pin to flatten it out. I would pretend to be a chef preparing a great dessert. I would also take the dough and shape it into many forms. This was my chance to be creative. The possibilities were endless. Have you ever seen the Taj Mahal in dough?

What a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon, playing with dough with flour up to your elbows and munching on chicken liver. Even now as I enjoy chopped chicken liver or smell a chicken cooking in a pot, I think of those lazy Sunday afternoons when liver and dough was all I needed to make me happy.


Recent Posts

Waking Up in Vegas - Happy 2014!

Neither, Gary or I, are really gamblers, so we try to find other activities to occupy our time when visiting Vegas. We have visited Red Rock, Hoover Dam and Valley of Fire State Park on previous visits. We had even traveled as far as Zion National Park in Utah, during an earlier stay. There are definitely natural beauties to discover while in Nevada, and they have nothing to do with showgirls or stripper poles. This visit was about relaxation and ringing in the New Year, so we didn’t need to stray far from Vegas this time. We bought tickets for a concert featuring Kristin Chenoweth. She is a very talented singer and actress best known from Broadway shows, movies, and multiple guest appearances on GLEE. The concert was on New Year’s Eve at the newly built Smith Center. Although she is about three feet tall, Kristin has a powerhouse voice. She sang songs from her career and, of course, sang one of my favorites “For Good” from WICKED. It was a great way to

Mental Health - Destroy the Stigma

I believe that I am a fearless writer. I share my personal experiences, thoughts and beliefs. I’ve not been afraid to express my emotions. Self-expression is fundamental to writing. I am a man of my words Recently, I became concerned that my blogs about depression and mental health might shape my reader’s opinions of me in a negative way.   The more I thought about it, I realized that I had internalized the stigma that surrounds mental health. Stigma is defined as “a mark of disgrace or infamy.” The word bears a negative connotation and it devalues the person to whom the stigma is applied. While the conversation about mental health is receiving a larger forum, damaging misconceptions are widespread. According to surveys, there are between 42.5-46 million adults in the US that have some type of mental illness.   Statistics show that one in four adults experience mental illness in a given year. These numbers of individuals are all impacted in some manner by the sti

Summer Adventures Part 2 – The Backyard Backlot to Broadway

  My childhood summers weren’t all the glitz and glamor of vacationing with cousins, wobbly shopping carts and bloody feet. Actually, most of my summer days were spent right at home in my yard. My parents never took a vacation. Our family never packed its bags and took off for other ports of call.   I never boarded a plane, a boat, or a train for a family adventure. My adventures were self-created. They were products of an imaginative mind that could travel to the moon, ride the rapids in the Amazon Jungle and lead a battle for the Knights of the Round Table, all before a lunch of Spaghettios with a side of Hawaiian Punch . I have always loved going to the movies. This helped provide the inspiration to my over active mind. The Saturday afternoon matinee was a childhood staple for me. The smell of fresh popcorn as you entered the lobby and the crisp cold air of the air-conditioned theater helped set the atmosphere on those hot, summer afternoons. I would get lost in the dark with

Depression, Drugs & DNA

When diagnosed with Clinical Depression, my doctor recommended medication to help the illness. The art of medication management can challenge professionals who need to find the right drug and dosage that will be effective for treatment. It’s frustrating for patients combating the effects of depression when their medication doesn’t quite alleviate the symptoms. Part of this cocktail of drugs can also cause intolerable side effects ·       Sleepiness ·       Insomnia ·       Dizziness ·       Weight Gain ·       Headaches ·       Increased Anxiety ·       Sexual Problems ·       Nausea The feeling of hopelessness and frustration is just compounded when you’re waiting for relief that never really arrives. There are so many drugs available for the treatment of depression. It can be daunting to find the right one for you. I feel that I have taken the PDR of depression medications. There’s always been the chase for the one that would tu

Communication - The Art of Words

I read a posting, a few weeks ago, that the song “Enjoy the Silence” by Depeche Mode was celebrating its 25 th anniversary. The song, released in 1990, speaks of how you can be beyond words. It relays the message that there are times when words can’t describe feelings or emotions and seem inconsequential. I do understand when people say that something is “indescribable.” We all have moments when we just want silence and time to appreciate the world beyond words.   A feeling or an emotion can be hard to verbalize at times, but are we ever beyond words? We have to realize that if we want a space of non-communication we have to communicate that. We can’t “Enjoy the Silence” unless we can tell everyone we want silence.   For people to know we are at a loss for words, we have to tell them that. Everything we say and do lies in communication. We could not function as a community or a society without it. We don’t stop to contemplate that our whole world is created fro