For ages, grandmother's the world over have been showering family and friends with love in the form of food. Food always has been and continues to be, a lovely way to connect with people. We celebrate special occasions with food, we make pot of soup for someone who is under the weather, a sweet treat for someone who's sad, a favorite meal on a birthday and the list goes on. The running theme here is that we do it with love.
"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him...The people who give you their food, give you their heart" ~ Cesar Chavez
There is something so endearing about bringing the recipes of our loved ones alive again after they have passed. I love to hear someone talking about "making Nana's sauce for the family dinner today" or "having Aunt Augusta's meatballs tonight" or my personal fave, "Are these Gram's scalloped potatoes?". Recreating your mother or grandmother's (or uncle or whoever!) specialty is such a loving way to honor and remember them. When I make Gram's scalloped potatoes, I feel like I'm hanging out with her the whole time. When we're eating them we can't help but share little stories and laugh all over again about some of the silly things she used to do and say. It's as close to having her at the table with us as we'll get and keeping her memory (and scalloped potatoes) alive is so important to us.
On Sunday, I made a pot of borscht. My family and I LOVE the stuff. My favorite recipe is a little bit of a process to make, certainly not something you just whip up for dinner one night. It requires a good amount of time and a whole lotta love (in my opinion) to make a beautiful batch of borscht.
As I gathered up the ingredients and read over the recipe, it occurred to me...This might be that thing that one day, when I'm gone, my kids will call each other up and say "Hey, bring the family over on Sunday, I'm making mom's borscht". I never in a million years would have thought that a root vegetable and cabbage soup would be my specialty, but so far, it looks like a real possibility.
I really enjoy the process of the soup. I love the colors of beets and carrots and leeks, each one is like nature's little art project. That may sound pretty dorky, but I really get inspired by the colors and the natural beauty in certain foods. Seriously, pay attention some time, you'll see.
I also love how this recipe uses some interesting ingredients that I don't normally use. Like this little bundle of fresh herbs, juniper berries, coriander seeds and peppercorns. I'm pretty sure this is the only time I use juniper berries in anything! This is not my original recipe, I got it from Food & Wine. It's actually Andrew Zimmerman's recipe and I make very few changes to it (which is a little unlike me). Basically I use parsnips instead of rutabaga and really, that's it I think.
This really is a perfect fall or winter soup. That "little bundle" looks more like a mummy in there. Which of course is perfect for the season. Boo!
Do you know what your specialty is? I'd love to hear what food you think your loved ones will one day remember you for. What is that one thing that lights everyone up when you make it? Don't have one yet? There's time. Sometimes it's something we don't even realize. Nelsy just told me the other day that roasted chicken was one of my specialties. I had no idea.