More Inspiration - From Mom and Cherry Cheesecake
I’ve been cruising the internet. Sometimes I crave certain bits of information or to see how other people do certain things, so I can maybe learn how to do something better. This week, I was looking for more homemaking ideas I guess. Maybe it’s because Autumn has set in and Winter is in the air. With Thanksgiving and Christmas around the corner, anything to help make life smoother in the day to day running of my house (my kitchen especially) is something I would love to hear about.
I’d already found a site a while back that taught me about kefir and making it at home as well as making yogurt and cream cheese at home. I’ve now found a video with an even better way to make homemade yogurt, so I’m excited to try that. We’re really fond of kefir, but it seems to disappear really quickly and I am just not making enough to keep up. And then sometimes no one wants it and I stop making it and get out of the habit. So I need to find a happy medium with how many to make at once. I do not use kefir grains. Those things scare me. I use a bottle of kefir start from the store and then just use my own as a starter. It’s not really much different than yogurt after all. Seriously the grains are creepy.
I’ve recently found a site where the lady normally does cooking classes online for a fee, but has a whole series on Freezer cooking up for free. I really have gotten into those, and can’t wait for her to update with a new one. (Check out http://freshfromthefreezer.com/ for this video series. You just need to give her your first name and email address to get to see them all. I really recommend them. She’s funny, easy to understand and is in Paris – she’s a Canadian transplant)
I’ve also recently found a site about food storage. It’s not a blog about Tupperware (yeah I wondered about that myself.) She has a great site and videos about using things like powdered milk, powdered eggs, homemade bisquik type mix etc. It’s cool, and I like her videos, though I think I could really go a bit farther than she’s taking it.
Like for instance, take a recipe for a no-bake cherry cheesecake.
|Found this gorgeous cheese cake at http://www.boergoatwebdesign.com (It's not where I saw the recipe I discuss below)|
The one I saw looks exactly like the one my Mom used to make every Christmas. Mom used all ready-made ingredients. She didn’t have time for anything else. This recipe does still call for some store bought items, however, the graham cracker crust could very easily be made rather than bought, and you can often find boxes of graham crackers really cheap and I’m guessing they freeze really well if you have no other way to store them long term if you have a ton.
The lady who posted the recipe does use a home-made sweetened condensed milk, and I look forward to learning how to make and try it myself. It also calls for lemon juice which I’ve already learned can be frozen. Then there’s the canned pie filling. Surely one could can this at home when cherries or strawberries or whatever are on sale (or in your own garden!). However, I am ashamed to say, I am 40 years old, live in the South and have never ever canned a thing a day in my life. Can’t grow anything besides marigolds either.
Isn’t that sad? My mother was the QUEEN of gardening and “putting up” food. I never had a can of green beans from the store til after I left home. We ALWAYS had jars of Mom’s home canned green beans on a shelf in the basement. Always. I knew she canned them, and I knew it could take days for all the canning and putting up to get done, and I hated it. I’d go out with my cousins and friends from across the creek and we’d go fishing and shoot things (like trees and rocks) with our BB guns (never animals… I was too tenderhearted), and get far, far from the house. So… yeah I was a tom boy, and because of that, I missed out on the best teacher I could have ever had. Now my sister was lucky and she was interested in that stuff and was very girly and learned it all. She now runs a bakery/coffee shop named after Mom and is like a freaking Martha Stewart (my Mom’s idol btw). I’m not bitter.
Anyway, dang but do I ramble… the point is I would think you could make your own canned pie filling as well. So, this Fall as I organize my home better, declutter (ala Operation Declutter!), and begin to make it finally feel more like HOME (after living here two years), I am also going to learn as much as I can about the things I just kind of skimmed over and totally avoided in the past: Freezing foods, making ready-to-use things for the kitchen and laundry and other cleaning, and preserving/canning, and changing how we feel about and see food. Yeah, the Winter is not the ideal time to decide to learn how to can something, but I do need to go ahead and buy the supplies so I have them on hand, and I might as well start small with something simple and easy using produce or something I can get at the store.
That cheesecake is truly my inspiration. I want to be able to have all the ingredients on hand either home-made or in long-term storage, or both. It’s not just because I really want an amazing cheesecake, but rather, well… I want to try to be the kind of wife and Mom that my Mom was, and I didn’t even realize until it was too late.
I’m going to list some of the things my Mom did either when I was growing up or after we were all moved out and came back to visit (and eat). This is just a few of the things, but it’s a list that I want to start doing myself for my own family or learn how to do.
- Have a Sunday Roast and all the fixings every week.
- Make just a pot of soupbeans and some cornbread (and sometimes mustard greens) for dinner at least one night a week.
- Make a HUGE pot of from-scratch spaghetti sauce (with meat) and can or freeze what doesn’t get used that night.
- Have a freezer (huge chest freezer) full of food and keep it rotated.
- Go to the butcher and find great deals on meats and put them in the freezer. (Well we did raise cattle – I’m not doing that part. There is a butcher at my usual grocery store – but Mom would also go to the slaughterhouse – which we also have in town- to pick up the equivalent to the size of the cow she (and my Granny) took to slaughter. I’m going to have to work up my nerve to visit the slaughterhouse. I still remember the smell. )
- Have stuff on hand all the time to cook a big breakfast for the whole family and anyone who ends up on the couch all night. (It never failed, my Mom was the master of breakfasts. She’d do sausage, bacon, eggs, and of course homemade biscuits and gravy. She worked in a diner on the breakfast shift for years. There was good reason for that.)
- Actually cook a big breakfast for my family more often so they stop asking what the special occasion is. (I know the choice of foods listed may not be the healthiest, but I plan to add in or replace some with things like baked oatmeal and fresh fruits and more dairy – but still keep the sense of it being a big hearty breakfast.)
- Have a garden of vegetables that we actually eat and keep it taken care of and learn how it all works together. Turn even the most unused and tiny space of land into a garden that can feed my family.
- Learn to can. Specifically blackberry jam, tomatoes, tomato juice, green beans, and society pickles. I know some are easier and quicker to master than others. Some take a lot more work. I know it’s a science, and somehow she just learned it all growing up. I have to start at age 40 and it has to make sense, so I’m going to approach it scientifically, then put my heart into it.
- Freeze corn and make creamed corn with it that makes you swear that you’re eating corn straight out of the garden… in January. Seriously her creamed corn was to die for. I inherited her cookbooks. I MUST find that recipe. If it even existed. Most of it was all in her head.
- Make homemade soup and use fresher (or frozen) ingredients like she did – she never had Del Monte Mixed Vegetables in the pantry. Make double batches (may need a second stock pot!) and freeze half of it and anything that doesn’t get eaten in a day or two from the other half.
- Make chicken and dumplings from scratch including cooking the whole chicken in the pot all day. I’ve been making it in the crock pot with condensed soups and a pkg of frozen chicken breast. It’s time to go back to the real deal. Then package up a big container of it and send along to my husband’s boss who keeps asking for chicken and dumplings.
- Have a HUGE meal for every single big holiday and invite anyone and everyone. This will start with Thanksgiving this year. I have told my oldest daughter who commutes to college to find out if any of her on-campus friends have plans for Thanksgiving or not and to invite any who don’t. I’m definitely going to have the small round table exchanged for the big farm table for these big meals. I’m glad I didn’t get rid of my huge tablecloths.
- Use the good china. We never had good china in the house when I was growing up, but after we kids were gone, should bought a set, and then I bought her another set in her favorite pattern. Plus she had a Christmas set. She always said she couldn’t have anything like that with kids around, but she was so glad to be able to have them afterwards. Mom wasn’t a smart-ass, she just told it like it was. Very, very straightforward. I liked that about her (except when it was directed at me of course.) Well, now I have the set that I had bought her (It was already an antique at the time I got it for her, and it’s very sentimental, so I don’t want anything to happen to it – but I do use it for romantic dinners with Hubs – well ok I have once.) But I also have another antique set I fell in love with at an antique store and bought for myself. This year we’ll use them at Thanksgiving. There may not be enough plates for everyone, and we’ll have to bring out the regular white plates for some people, but that’s OK.
- Light candles on Christmas Eve and put on Christmas music when we open gifts after dinner and Christmas movies. Now this one has been kind of a hard tradition to get going. As a child, I ALWAYS opened close family gifts on Christmas Eve and then we’d go to my Granny’s on Christmas day for dinner and to exchange other presents with aunts and uncles (but mainly to play with our fave toys with my cousin – usually a remote controlled truck or robot or something… I was a serious tomboy.) When I left home, we still went back to Mom’s and we all exchanged gifts there. By the time we got home with the wee little kids, they’d be asleep and it would be late. I didn’t like waiting til Christmas day to exchange our immediate family gifts, as I felt they competed with Santa. To me, Christmas Morning was all about Santa. After Mom got sick and then after she passed, we all still got together at my sister’s house on Christmas Eve since she had the biggest house (there were 25-30 of us at that point), and was pretty much a central location. (I live out of town). Then my sister decided she’d rather gold the gathering on a night other than Christmas Eve so individual families could do their own thing or they could go out of town etc… well, this bugged me cause that WAS our thing. (She’d been away for 30 years and come back home just a little while before Mom passed on), so she wasn’t into our traditions, and she wasn’t into being the hostess like Mom had been. Then she decided to start doing the gathering at her coffee shop instead of her house. In fact, last year we didn’t all get together til well after New Years due to illnesses and surgeries etc. I almost thought we wouldn’t have “Christmas” with my family at all. Well, anyway, our Christmas Eve is now freed up, and this year I want to make it special like it had been for me growing up. For my older kids, they have no set traditions now, and it makes me sad. Kids need things like that to remember… memories are sometimes all we have left. So, this Christmas Eve, I am going all out. I happen to be off work that night so that won’t be an issue. We’re going to have a huge meal, and watch The Santa Clause or White Christmas and then light candles (I am going to buy a ton!) and put on Christmas music and exchange gifts with my little family. Then Christmas morning the kids will find what Santa brought (I guess that’s a tradition we never stopped), and then I’ll cook another big meal and have Christopher’s mom and step dad over to exchange gifts again and we’ll watch It’s a Wonderful Life. Whenever we get to see my extended family, it’ll be nice, but I’m not relying on that to be “My Christmas” anymore.
I guess for now, that’s all. It is a lot. Some of them are easy to start doing right away. Some are going to require a lot of planning and educating myself. Some will require help from my Hubs or kids maybe. I know I’ll never be her and I’ll never be perfect at everything I attempt. But that’s ok. I know she’d be happy with me just for trying.
|My Mom with me.|
|Me with my 3rd daughter Faelyn|