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Posts Tagged ‘food and nurturing’

Taco Soup

Taco Soup, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Family Recipes

Family Recipes, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.




Simple Taco Soup


1 lb. lean ground beef
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can Mexican chili beans
1 can pinto beans
1 can kidney beans
1 large can petite diced tomatoes
1 package taco seasoning mix


Brown ground beef and stir in the taco seasoning. Add canned veggies and simmer until flavors are blended — about 20 minutes. Ladle into bowls and top with your choice of cheese, sour cream, cilantro, or tortilla chips.




Top With Your Choice

Top With Your Choice, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Comfort Food - Taco Soup

Comfort Food - Taco Soup, BlackBerry Shots, Minneapolis, Minnesota, December 2010, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


Sometimes it’s a gift to be a product of a blended family. There are different sets of parents, plumes of siblings, cousins galore. When I was in Pennsylvania a few weeks ago visiting my brother after his liver transplant, part of my Southern family showed up on the doorstep and surprised me. After driving the 10 hours from South Carolina, they literally stepped right out of the front seat of their car and into my brother’s kitchen. They came bearing gifts for a celebration of Thanksgiving. It was the first time in 45 years the Robertson side of the family had been together.

Though I’m not much of a cook, I love easy-to-make meals. One of my favorite gifts was a spiral bound recipe book. Daddy and Judy had handwritten simple recipes they collected from different members of the family. And behind the pages of the recipe cards, they tucked vintage family snapshots.


Like this one:


April 1973

April 1973, Vintage Family Snapshot In Recipe Book, Morristown, Tennessee, photo © 2010 by QuoinMonkey. All rights reserved.


If you look closely, you might spot me there in Tennessee, in a half circle with my paternal grandparents, Ada and Jess, smirking behind that 70’s smile. So many memories.

Back in Minnesota, it’s a lot colder, and I’m a lot older. I pull the ground beef out of the freezer and open the handmade recipe book to Taco Soup. Since I’m late getting home, Liz starts dinner (if you are from the South, you might say “supper”), and I walk right into the middle smell of a family memory. The recipe book makes a creative Holiday gift. All you need are recipe cards, a fast writing pen, and a strong wrist. Food and family photos are a natural combination, a memory maker that keeps on giving.


-posted on red Ravine, with gratitude to my family, Wednesday, December 1st, 2010

-related to post: Memories, Writing, & Family Recipes

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My refrigerator is nothing special. It’s short and squat, a just-right size that fits nicely into its spot under the cabinets. Our kitchen is the size of a breadbox. So the fridge fits into the breadbox. I’ve always lived in small, crowded spaces. The rambler I grew up in in Pennsylvania housed eight kids and two adults with three bedrooms and one bath. In small spaces, there is always a noise to be heard, the crackle of laughter, the bang of a knee on the step rail, the Oldsmobile station wagon pulling up the hilly driveway. Our fridge was always full of good food, homemade meatloaf or Southern barbecue, gallons of whole milk and sweet tea, fresh eggs and bacon, cheese and a variety of meats for Dagwood sandwiches.

My fridge is the same way. In Fall, we keep it well stocked. Red grapes, sweet October apples, horseradish mayo, pulpy OJ, bottles of fresh water, pork chops thawing on a plate to grill for dinner. I’m getting hungry. I associate a full fridge with nurturing, the way mothers nurtured when they worked at home and had time to devote to domesticity. I don’t know how they do it these days. What I really want to say about refrigerators is that they used to be heavy steel boxes with chunks of ice that had to be replaced on a daily basis. When I was driving by the old Georgia house with Mom, she pointed out the porch where she used to rock me as a baby. She said they had an icebox then, made a point of remembering. Because iceboxes were work. And keeping baby bottles fresh, milk cold, was something women thought a lot about in the 1950’s.

Simple things. What is simple has changed. I grew up calling a refrigerator an icebox. I don’t know when I switched to fridge. Before magnetics, the doors were clunky with mechanical latches that you had to push hard to shut. There were no ice dispensers, crispers, water that flowed through a tube in the door. If I had my way, I’d order red appliances. A big red front loading washer, maybe Bosch or Kenmore. Gas dryer to match. Red stove, red refrigerator. Not tomato red. But the dark red of a maple leaf like the one I saw at the writing retreat last weekend at Gale Woods Farm.

Gale Woods Farm is over 400 acres of what was once private farmland, donated to Three Rivers Park system by the family. We were writing about place, walking to the mounds, crunching through maple and oak where the forest meets the prairie. It’s a working farm with sheep, chickens, cows, farm equipment strewn about the property. What would it have been like to grow up there before the time of refrigerators? With root cellars and iceboxes and men (maybe a few women) who went out and sawed chunks of ice from frozen lakes to sell locals so they could keep leftovers cold. I don’t want to go back. I only want to imagine.

And underneath that imagining is a quiet place. A simpler place. Not better. Just simpler. I would read by candlelight, work in the daylight hours, go to bed when I was tired. I’d send letters through the mail with 6-cent stamps edged with bad cursive, stumble out to check on the dogs with a kerosene lantern, delight in the way the snow flickered down through the burr oaks and maples when the Moon was full. Inside, my wet boot tracks would leave frosty prints on the burlap mat, the window panes would creep forward into the fog between warmth and cold. The icebox would not hum when I reached in to pull out glass jars of milk, a crock of butter to lather on homemade bread. I’d shut the door against hollow walls of tin, walk over to my writing desk, take out the fountain pen and get to work.


-related to Topic posts: WRITING TOPIC — MY REFRIGERATOR, FridgeFotos – Assateague Island To Frozen Trolls

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