Remembering Dad through Food and Letters PART 1: Blueberry Muffins

My current research and writing project is a continuation of something started a number of years ago— transcribing letters Dad sent home to his family during WWII and capturing my own memories of summers spent in the Adirondack Mountains.

An aspect of this relates to food— snippets Dad wrote about and things I recall as favorites. These posts will carry the header— as noted above— and all the recipes will be included in their original form. Enjoy!

Blueberry Muffins

One of the traditions at North Lake (Adirondack Conservation area) was a frosty morning dip and a canoe trip to Blueberry Island to pick, of course, blueberries! These berries are the tiny, wild variety and the designated pail would be filled to the brim for pancake and muffin making.

Dad ready to pick berries, circa 1970’s
The blueberry pail that I kept- 50 years on
Mmmmmuffins
A photo taken by my Dad on an early morning canoe ride

Aunt Norma

My Aunt Norma died last week. She was my Dad’s youngest sister and the last living sibling at 92. Norma brought out the best in people. One of my cousins remarked on this. It was definitely true regarding my father, her big brother, who could be crabby, gruff, silent…you name it. Norma managed to smooth out those emotional wrinkles and made many a Christmas day and time spent at the cabin in the Adirondacks a sheer joy.

Today I took a shot at baking a German Chocolate Cake, one of Norma’s signature desserts; it looks a little odd but it tastes pretty good. Not as good as Norma’s but I wanted to remember and feel close.

 

Then and Now

It is graduation season and Father’s Day is just around the corner. It is also time to take a moment to celebrate old friends. I met up with a dear friend of 40 years to spend a  few hours chatting while the Mississippi River- still overflowing the banks- rolled on by. Today, our nephew David hosted a graduation brunch :).

Dad and me in 1969:

stina and dad Rome Temple of Vesta

Spending time with Gaile by the Mississippi at City House St Paul MN

gaile in color

…and the High School grad, David, with his Mom and Dad:

grad2

 

Scanning the past

With the help of an Epson scanner, I am starting to sort through photos from the 1940’s and slides and photos from the 1960’s through the 70’s. Regrettably, the slides were kept in less than optimal conditions but it is a worthy challenge :).

skippy grandma mark ginny mom 1948 canada

1948-  My brother Mark, sister Ginny, mother, Florence, and Grandma Ruby enjoy a vacation in Canada- as well as Skippy the dog.

john jacox 1948 canada

Grandpa John 1948

ginny and mark

Ginny and Mark- somewhere in the Adirondacks 1948

stina grandma ruby no filter

The next generation to find a love of the woods; Me with Grandma August 1961- 58 years ago.

 

Baking!

Baking is such fun! Thanksgiving was an opportunity to make Amish Dinner Rolls from the King Arthur Flour website.  Today I made Light Spice Holiday Cookies (also from King Arthur Flour recipes) and hunted down the Christmas cookie cutters…and a few other shapes 🙂

plate

In a recent conversation with my niece I shared some ideas for gifts for my great-nephews. She mentioned that the youngest is all about plush toys and that their oldest is really drawn to “spooky” stuff these days. The cookie cutter choices reflect this- as does the free form football for another great-nephew: a New England Patriots fan. (Have I mentioned how hard it is to live so far apart?!) I am not sure what cookie shapes my little great-niece prefers so I dedicate all the fancy trees, mittens and bears to her ♥♥.

 

Re-purposing Memories and Giving Thanks

My dad was a wonderful wood worker and all of us kids have several of his pieces. One of mine was a four poster bed that he built from cherry wood when I was about 12 years old. Over the years the bed moved from my childhood home in Upstate NY to RI, then MI and finally to Minnesota where it no longer fit very well in any of the bedrooms. One of our young nieces, Megan, took it over at that point- until a four poster wasn’t “cool” anymore. It came back to our house where the various parts of it took up residence in the basement. Recently Megan’s dad, a talented wood worker like my father, took the bed spindles and thick side and end pieces that made up the frame. (He creates beautiful bowls and other artistic pieces.) On Thanksgiving day  he presented my partner and I with the beautiful stoppers seen below made from parts of the spindles. It was very emotional; I  could picture my dad in his wood shop- the Sears Craftsman tools humming and the Metropolitan Opera on the radio at top volume.