He could barely see his way through the kitchen, much less read a recipe. But that didn’t stop him. He moved through the kitchen with a knowledge and understanding of someone who has spent years doing this very same thing. When he pulled the roast from the oven, the smell was heavenly. A perfectly cooked roast beef, the drippings gathering in the bottom of the pan. The top of the roast where the flour and fat had come together to form the perfect crust, that delectable bite that everyone tried to sneak before it made its way to the table. He always paired his roast with these incredible potatoes, cooked in the pans’ drippings, so full of flavor and fork tender. Beet horseradish was sitting in a glass jar on the table, to be used to accompany the roast. The color of that beet horseradish, a vidid purple, was as robust as the flavor. Yet somehow when paired with the meal, it was the perfect tangy compliment to the rich, savory flavors from the meat. My mouth waters at the thought of these memories and my eyes do a bit as well.
I met Gramps when he was approaching 90. He was remarkably independent for someone that age. His senses had dulled, namely his vision, but despite that, he continued to live and live well into his nineties. Gramps was a huge part of James’ life, a role model, a man whose dedication and drive were passed down to James. In many ways the two are very similar. Each man, devoted to his family, not only unafraid of hard work, but almost seeking it. Whether it be creating something in the workshop or the kitchen, equally skilled and talented at both.
Unlike James, Gramps was more rough around the edges, less outwardly affectionate. For years I felt a bit hesitant around him, unsure if he liked me, or wanted me in the family. But I do remember one day being different. Gramps and I were sitting alone at his disheveled kitchen table, sorting through mail. He would pass me an envelope and I would read aloud its contents, carefully handling the envelopes so they could be reserved for later use. I remember that moment because in between gruff comments about the mail, he reached over, grabbed a tin from the table, and offered me one of his cookies. I caught a glimmer of affection as he looked my way, a hint of a smile on his face, as I warmly accepted both the cookie and the gesture; I knew I was finally making my way into the family.
As the holiday approaches and we look forward to the family we will spend the day with, and the family members we miss and long to have once again at our table, we gladly share our food and our traditions with you. We hope with each bite you will be filled with the best parts of the season, enjoying the gift of good food, family, memories, and traditions.