|"Sissy" Circa 1997|
"Are you hungry?"
"I just made fondue. I have Chex Mix. Are you sure I can't get you something to eat? Have you eaten? How about a sandwich?"
When you showed up at Sissy's that's what you heard just as sure as the greeter at Wal-Mart saying "Welcome to Wal-Mart." It was her thing. Sissy fed us all.
We had big Sunday dinners, breakfast, supper, any day of the week supper, and all the snacks you could cram between those meals. Feeding us was her love language. She was always in the kitchen. She was the only person I knew who didn't have a worn spot on her sofa cushions. She just didn't go in there.
Since she passed away, we've all been looking for recipes she used. We all have our favorites. I don't know how many times I've been asked, "Hey, do you have Sissy's (fill in the blank) recipe?" "Remember when she used to make that for us?"
On a trip home to my dad's this summer, we opened a box of her cookbooks and found the book of books. Her red Betty Crocker with all the hand written recipes and notes. Our family history is in this book. Not literally, but it's there between the lines. Its in the memories evoked through the tastes and aromas conjured up when we prepare these dishes.
My heart beat all too quickly as we thumbed through the pages. I couldn't possibly bring them all on an airplane with me, and I wasn't about to let them be checked baggage or mailed. Too Risky. Finally, I bagged what I thought was most important and left a stack in order of priority, to be swapped out later. I carried that bag like it was full of gold. Twenty hours of flying from Mississippi to Alaska, and I don't think I took my eyes off the bag once.
My big goal was to scan and catalog all the recipes and make a family cookbook, so everyone would have the recipes, and photos of her original notations in the books. I started to scan them once I got home and found that it was all just too mechanical. You see, these aren't just recipes. Remember? They are little pieces of our family's history.
Every time you waited for that "something to eat" you were also getting quality time with whomever was sharing the seat next to you, and better yet, quality time with Sis. Someone was asking you how your day went. There were no cell phones on the table, no computers, no ipods. Just talking and laughing. And eating. Lots of eating. So, that's why the scanning and cataloging just wasn't right for this. This blog is a tribute. It is a journey through recipes from my father's and uncles' childhood, as well as my brothers', cousins', and my own. Generations of one little lady feeding us all.
I hope you'll follow. Each post will be a new recipe taken right from the books. Old school cooking. This isn't to win a health foods contest or creative recipe match. This is preservation of what has already been done. I will also be preparing each recipe as I blog it, so it will take some time. Hopefully my family members will request their favorites, so I can get started on those first. And it is my sincere hope that they will share their memories of her with me so we can add them here with the food.
Welcome to Sissy's Kitchen. Can I get you something to eat?