Thursday, June 24, 2010

Keeper of the Home

I remember when I was homeschooling my older girls we used a book called Training our Daughters to Be Keepers of the Home, or something like that. It was a Bible based curriculum and although I cannot remember a lot of what it was about, likely Proverbs 31, I do remember some of the skills we learned. Valuable stuff.

Frozen Grapes on Skewers

Ever since I can remember I have always wanted to be a wife and mother. When girls my age were thinking about being teachers or nurses or ballet dancers I was the only one who wanted to be a stay at home mom. I am a Cancer of course. What else would I be?

So I have been at this gig for a little over 27 years and not to be boastful or anything, but I am kind of good at it. And I still love my job! How many women can say that after almost 3 decades? There are areas that I have need of improvement to be sure and there are things that I still loathe to do. I love grocery shopping. I don't so much like meal planning. I love changing the beds and sleeping in them on that first night. I change my bed twice a week, that's how much I love a clean bed! I like ironing and cleaning the house. I like to cook, most days. I am not too much into baking, likely because I would rather eat potato chips than cookies. I have, however, started making my own bread. I find it more and more difficult to pay $3 for a single loaf when I can make two loaves for about 25 cents. I enjoy sewing too, which is why today I whipped up a couple of bread bags for my fresh out of the oven bread. Easy peasy. 5 minutes tops.

Speaking of sewing, I also made these summer pants for Athena out of a stained dress shirt of Paul's. They turned out quite good. I could have made the waist a tad bit smaller.

And now the real reason I started this post:
I made rhubarb pie last week and as is my custom, I send a little bit of whatever I make, (soup, cookies, pie,) across the street to share with our elderly neighbors. She called me the next day to tell me that in all her 71 years she had never tasted a pie so good and she did not want to have the baker go unnoticed. Very nice of her to say. She added I wouldn't mind having the recipe if you will give out your recipes. I chuckled to myself. Those days are long gone.

People used to entertain very often. Most women stayed at home and cared for their children and their homes. Women were known for their excellent sewing skills, knitting, gardening and their signature dishes. No longer. At least it is very uncommon around these parts.

Of course I would give her my "secret recipe" which I just pulled off of the Internet that very day. I did, however, use my Grandmother's pie crust recipe. And this made me think of her, Grandma Whilhelmine. The last thing she ever said to me before she died, the very last thing as I was leaving her hospital room was "Michelle, make sure you don't give anyone my Lima Bean recipe." To make this story even funnier, or more quaint I should say, is years later when cleaning out my recipe box, I found the "famous Lima bean recipe" and wouldn't you know it, it was neatly clipped out of a woman's magazine and glued squarely in the centre of a recipe card. :)And now, in her memory, with no disrespect to her intended, I share:

Lima Bean Casserole

2 pkgs frozen Lima beans (10 oz each)
2 cans of sliced canned mushrooms
I medium onion, minced
5 stalks celery cut into thin slices

Saute onion and celery in a half pound of butter (gasp!) until golden. Then add mushrooms. Sprinkle in 2 T flour and 1/2 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp nutmeg and 1/8 tsp pepper. Toss until well blended. Reduce heat and stir in 1/2 cup heavy cream and stir until thickened. (You may need more cream, or milk) Stir in Lima beans and heat. Sprinkle with Paprika (as all casserole dishes back in the day were garnished).

PS I don't use all that butter, but maybe half of it. Works out the same.


Anonymous said...

All those womanly skills you speak of- I think I am the only one of all the women I know, my age or even a generation older, who knows how to do all those things. I value all those wonderful skills that you so lovingly taught us! (I think Dann does too!)

Dawn said...

Those pants you made for Athena are so cute! I never thought about why some people would want to keep their recipes secret before...interesting. I mostly enjoy keeping my home. But I would rather plan the meals and have my husband cook them. He's a good cook and enjoys it. Freshly washed sheets are a favorite of mine to.

Jen said...

This is my favorite blog post you've ever written. I've read it three times, once outloud to Gordo.

Tara said...

I'm glad I get to return to the "good ole days" now and then and spend the day baking - and I'm with you on the outrageous cost of bread - if it's organic you can pay as much as 7, yes, 7 bucks a loaf!!

I love sharing recipes too - thanks for including one so close to your heart :0)