Lou is my very dear, elderly friend who is almost like a second mother to me. She is now 88 years old and still very active. Her husband had a military career as an Air Force Master Sergeant, and they have lived in more states than I have room to mention here. My mom had an address book for out of town friends, and Lou’s address was never written in ink—only pencil!! At one time they lived in Hawaii for four years and then moved to a small town near Birmingham, England. Lou and her husband always chose to live off-base so they could absorb the cultural climate of their surroundings. The sights, sounds, and tastes they and their children experienced during 35 years of military service were an education unrivaled by either Harvard or Yale.
If Lou were sitting at this keyboard right now instead of me, she would tell you that there were many times in those military years that she longed to have a permanent house — a place to settle down and call home. And yet, Lou carried home with her everywhere she went. Every time Lou made cornbread or fried chicken in Honolulu or that English house, she was carrying bits and pieces of the place she had called home as a child to her family. The foods she prepared were an extension of her own childhood—recipes passed down from generation to generation. Making “momma’s chicken and dumplings” brought comfort and feelings of momma being near on days sometimes interjected with pangs of loneliness. When moving to a new military assignment, Lou would sometimes face the challenge of trying to find the right ingredients for “home” foods—-England in the early 1960’s was often not very obliging in this respect!
The word home very often brings to mind places where we have spent the happiest years of our lives….the place where we were safe from the chaos of the world; the place where we were loved and accepted; the place where comfort often came in the form of food. The heart of the home is truly the kitchen. As we set an example for the younger generations of children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, etc.–let’s remember to pass on to them the recipes and art of cooking that were graciously passed down to us. After all, someday they will be grown and heading out the door into a world where they will need to carry bits and pieces of home with them.
Here is a recipe that was passed to me from my Mom; it always evokes memories of the times she made it for me as a special treat for my birthday.
Blue Ribbon Fudge
2 1/2 cups white sugar
1 stick margarine
7 oz. can of evaporated milk
12 oz. pkg. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup marshmallow whip/crème
Combine sugar, butter, and milk and boil 8 minutes. Remove from heat and pour syrup over chocolate chips; stir until chips are melted. Add vanilla and marshmallow whip. Pour into greased 8×8 dish/pan and cut into squares when cool. Add 2/3 cup chopped nuts if desired (walnuts are especially good).
(c) 2017 Leslie O. Kelley