little legacy A small thing handed down by a predecessor
Little legacy is a remembrance project , a positive and creative space, to celebrate small things handed down by predecessors.
This is a link up over at the Alexander Residence – hop over and read some of the other wonderful posts this week..
This weeks legacies from Kate and Penny brought tears to my eyes. I’m lucky enough to still have my Mum and reading these memories make me treasure that even more than I already do.
My mum was very young when I was born. One of the great benefits of that is the wonderful opportunity this gave me to be close to my grandparents on both sides. In fact I also remember three of my great grandparents very well.
The thing I love most about Penny’s legacy project is how it reinforces my heart-felt belief that the things I do everyday guided by my Granny’s voice in my ear are what keep her honoured and revered in my heart and make her alive to my children. She was a born instructor. A memorable, strong-willed vibrant woman.
I’ve written before (and linked up here before as well) about all the tiny cooking rituals she’s seeded in me. Reading Penny’s post about sewing with her mum makes me think so sharply of our cooking lessons.
I joined the cooking rota relatively early. My parents both worked full-time and my sister and I had chores to do when we got home from school. My mum had cooked for her entire family from an early age and could not see why I couldn’t be responsible for two dinners a week during my later years in junior school. At the beginning things were left for me to prepare with instructions but as time passed I had to look in the fridge or larder and plan from the (usually sparse) ingredients there.
It was my Granny who showed me how. Standing in her kitchen with an apron cooking alongside her she wound me round with a steady stream of instruction, story and superstition. Pacifying spirits, making small helpings spread a long way, weaving magic with the cheapest cuts and mysterious innards, balancing health with spices, healing hurts with carbohydrates we passed the years.
Every single day I do something in my kitchen that my Granny told me to never forget. Today I’m boiling butter beans for a bean bake and there’s a tomato in there with them.
I don’t know why.
but I’ve done it without and it’s not as good.
Always a splash of milk in with tinned tomatoes, cheaper the meat then the lower the heat, okra thickens better than cornflour, sniff the melon to see if it’s ripe, always, always put in the bone – that’s where all the flavour is.
Cold hands for pastry, wet hands to make meatballs, if you add bread they go further and taste lighter. Always pass salt to the gods.
Start meringues with a slice of lemon wiped around the bowl. Less is more for allspice and it numbs the heart as well as the tongue. A drop of vinegar in the water to poach eggs and if you put an apple in your potato sack it’ll slow the shoots coming. Dust your fruit to stop it sinking in cakes, salt smothers flame on a grill and always, always keep a crust and some cloves on your windowsill for good health and luck.
You can always stretch a meal to welcome a guest, good hospitality is your honour and pride. Respect food, there’s literally someone dying out there for lack of it. Meals cooked with love say – I care about you, I have woven this with my hands and my knowledge and the best my purse could purchase and I offer it up, friend, loved one, to sustain you and bring you pleasure.
Every time I look in my cupboards, fridge and larder and mentally juggle ingredients to conjure up a meal she’s at my shoulder. Truthfully I can’t think of a better way to honour her and her memory. To keep her alive in my life and for my children.
Zeph already salts correctly. I find myself quoting her truths to him as we cook together or as he stands by watching.
“Why are you using a eggshell to fish out that broken bit?”
“Like calls to like…”
So it goes on. Soothing and familar. Small, everyday and earth shakingly, world formingly important.