Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Traditions and Heirlooms

This morning we are acting like french people.

Okay, not exactly. I'm far removed from the french culture but I took French in high school and one of my favorite memories is dipping crusty bread from the day before in hot chocolate! Genius!

I'm enjoying sitting with my boys at the first table Joel and I purchased together and seeing a few new, fun, potential heirlooms around the kitchen. I found a couple butter paddles and a bread warmer at our local consignment shop. I can imagine teaching my kids to make butter and bread and using those often.

The bread warmer says "Bread, the symbol of Friendship and Hospitality"

This started me thinking more about traditions, heirlooms, the messages those things relate, and the cultures that started them.

Here, take a stroll through my spaghetti brain with me:

I know my love for french class had something to do with learning more about different cultures. It was my worst class in high school, but I still enjoyed it. We american's aren't the only people on the planet, and learning about another people group's history, way of life, and viewpoints can have a lot of value. Plus, it is incredibly interesting.

I find that one of the most fascinating ways to learn about another culture, is to learn about their food! Food is a central part of all cultures, and I end up discovering that learning about the traditions and recipes of food naturally flows into extra information about general values and specifics of the culture. The cookbook, Forgotten Skills of Cooking (by an Irish woman describes as the Irish Julia Childs), is beautiful and full of short accounts about memories and where each recipe came from. The recipes are worth it to me, but the short accounts are what make me smile. There are many bits of information about what the recipes meant to the family and special people who gave them to her. And the whole book is composed in a way that teaches you from basic to advanced. You'll make the butter and buttermilk and then find several recipes to use that butter and buttermilk with. All the while, you get to enjoy short and delightful history lessons from an experienced cook.

I love this book.

I've since learned that my Grampa LOVED marrow bones. Who knew? Well, now I know another way to use them.

Bottom right picture is of butter paddles. Use those so that your
hands don't warm the butter while you work it to shape it.
We have the design in us to have deep influence from the people we care for, people who have shown they care for us, and people we respect. The most memorable moments and influences will be remembered and passed down. Meal times and food preparation can have lasting impacts and create situations that children desire to emulate in the future. Heirlooms become heirlooms when they have a story or memory to make them significant. I want to provide my children with heirlooms of value and wholesome traditions around food that encourage love, thankfulness, family, and hospitality. That isn't a complete list of hopes, but it is already a tough thing to accomplish today when everything is new, the old has little value, and busyness is a sign of success.

I think that creating traditions and heirlooms can be wonderful and helpful.

I'm not sure how it will come about. I think some of it will be intentional, and some of it will naturally come from being faithful to the way we think God is most glorified in our family.

I've learned countless things from my parents that are being passed down to our children whether I know it or not. I value sit down meal times together where adults and children participate and share in conversation. I value hard work from our regular Saturday morning wake ups. I know I've written a post about this another time.

So what did I learn from french bread dipped in hot chocolate?
This tradition came from when they bought their bread from the local baker or baked it on a daily basis. They ate what they were going to eat at their big meal, and the next morning, the bread was crusty enough to want to dip it in hot chocolate to soften it. When I was learning about the culture in France, they still had specialized shops: so they knew their butcher, baker, and farmer. They had relationships with people in their town just like you would with your post office man if you had a post office box.

How many relationships with locals do we have now? We've moved to a way of life that still depends on others for our needs, but removes us from needing to actually talk with others for our needs. I buy from vitacost and amazon for ingredients like wheat and coconut oil, and the driver just leaves it on the porch even if I'm home. I don't even see the UPS man unless I get to the door before he does so that I can say thank you.

But now contrast the french bread example with reading the Little House on the Prairie book (which I just barely started reading) about their time in the big woods. They were nearly completely self sufficient and didn't see anyone on a daily basis but they still had to have some local connections with near by families to share a few resources, much like local farmers have connections with other local farmers.

I hold several tid bits from sermons in my memory until someday they click. I've thought often about a challenge to the congregation to become a "regular" somewhere, or find ways to know people from the community because we often become closed off and homebodies. And I struggled because I don't frequently shop, or go to the post office, or live in a neighborhood that would have a block party, or have kids in sports... but more akin to the Ingles family in the woods, our niche is the homesteading.

I have a way to connect with people. I have to buy some things online for affordability, but I can't buy my hay there. I've met and talked to countless farmers and we've shared stories back and forth about our farming or homesteading. It has been helpful, encouraging, and gets me out of my comfort zone.

So french bread dipped in hot chocolate brings fond thoughts of being local "regulars". It also, fairly obviously, makes me think about finding ways to use all of our food. In our family, it is a fun treat to share with my kids that utilizes every last scrap of the goodness we are privileged to have.

An Heirloom
So how about the cross stitch above the entertainment center? "There is no place like home". I can look back and see a history of valuing family and home. The home was inviting, comfortable and hospitable. That cross stitch goes back at least to my Great, Great, Great Grandmother Eliza according to the letter that my grandmother wrote to me when she gave it to me. It's something to pass down and a sentiment we hope our children agree with. We want our home to be a safe haven and a joy to be in.

New Traditions?
I've been making a simple recipe for daily bread from the Forgotten Skills cookbook that I'm testing out as a fairly regular meal addition. It's simple and doable, and leaves some bread for breakfast in the morning. I don't really know if this specific bread baking will continue. But in general, I would like baking, cooking, and enjoying fresh food to be a tradition and something everyone loves to do together.

Bread with our egg drop soup

Bread for the morning

We'll have a lot of changes in our lives as we go through the homesteading journey. I'm hoping that genuine understanding and thankfulness for the food on our table because of the Lord's provision becomes one of the great lessons our children learn with us. Food is just one example of the Lord's provision and his creativeness. But this can be a teachable moment and a stepping stone.

Thank you, God, for this food. For it's sustaining power and the enjoyment it brings!

I've read about half of Treasuring God in our Traditions by Noel Piper. I recommend it. You can get the print version on amazon, or read the free pdf version here. This post wasn't a summary or attempt to convey her thoughts because it has been some months since reading it, but I did enjoy what I read and enjoyed skimming it just now as well.

1 comment:

  1. See. Traditions are fantastic. Just like the tradition of getting dressed before eating breakfast on Christmas morning. I don't understand why you were always so opposed to that one. :P Hehe. I enjoyed this post.




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