Heirloom Meals: Savoring Yesterday's Traditions Today

Saturday August 18, 2012

My Big Minnesotan Family Radermacher Reunion (by Rebecca Narum)

Heirloom Meals is all about the family coming together and uniting around food.  This past weekend the maternal side of my family did exactly this as we all gathered at a lake resort in Northern Minnesota for a family reunion.  This is the second time this reunion has taken place in what we hope to become a traditional gathering every four or so years.  As time progresses the cousins that make up the “3rd Generation” seem to get older and move away, everyone’s interests and commitments expand, and it becomes harder and harder to all get together.  Reflecting on those realities, our family it is quite amazing in that we were all able to make it, 50 people in total.  This included four generations, people from out of state and even my aunt’s family coming all the way from Norway.  Our family continues to embrace the loving, big and fun German-Catholic, Minnesotan family paradigm which has defined us from the day we landed in America.  At the same time, as our family expands, new cultures, personas, interests and experiences our introduced and I see them being embraced whole-heartedly. 


The “original siblings” and their dad (my grandfather).

Our family spent each day together sharing in different activities and reuniting in the evening around the dinner table.  We were all together for two nights and divided the task of cooking equally, organizing ourselves around the boundaries of the 2nd generation families.  There are six of the “original siblings”, as we tend to call them, consisting of my mom, her three sisters and her two brothers.  Three families were in charge of cooking the first night and three the second night.  On top of making the food we were required to have some sort of a theme for our dinner.  Food is not just a supplement in our family gatherings, but a focal point in which we all come together and enjoy great company.  As families, we began planning these dinners and dinner themes almost three months ago once we decided who would be cooking with who.


All dressed up for Hawaiian Night

The first night was Hawaiian Night and we dressed up with leis and flowered skirts.  Dinner consisted of home-made pulled pork, roasted vegetables and the specialty drink of the night called “Bootleg”.  The second night was themed “Birthday Party” with the intention to celebrate all of our birthdays which we don’t get to celebrate together during the year.  However, once dinner began we learned that the Happy Birthday theme was actually a disguise, allowing for a surprise 30th anniversary celebration for my aunt and uncle from Norway.  My aunt Connie married Olav, a Norwegian farmer, almost 30 years ago and moved to Norway.  Although they have consistently come back and visited the family, they have never been able to celebrate their anniversary with the family. 


Connie and Olav cutting their 30th Anniversary Cake

It was so fun for me to attend this family reunion.  Although I had seen everyone sporadically since our last family reunion, being together allowed me to see how our family has evolved as a whole.  One of my favorite moments at the reunion was when I caught my grandfather sitting back, watching and absorbing the festivities; one could immediately see the pleasure and pride on his face in having four generations of his family all together in simple celebration of our common bonds.  I don’t think it’s very often that a family comes together like this and I feel so blessed to be a part of it.  It is amazing!


The whole Radermacher family

I remember going to family reunions when I was a child, organized by my grandfather and his siblings, and including their children and grandchildren.  Now to see my immediate family, and my cousins continue the traditions with the same veracity is remarkable; I can only imagine how my grandfather must feel. 

For those who may not have read my previous blogs on Student Saturday, I spent the last academic year abroad in Spain and interned at Heirloom Meals this summer.  During my year abroad I realized how special my family is to me, and during my summer at Heirloom Meals I was able to explore and hear the stories of my own family’s roots, heritage and history.  It was cool to come back from these experiences to a big family reunion and appreciate everything first-hand.  Life may get crazy and busy, but for me at the end of the day I can always come home to have “dinner with the family” and I love the thought of that.

Friday August 17, 2012

Carole’s Concoctions:
What do I do with those Zucchini Bats?

It's that time of year.  Somehow even with a watchful eye, those sneaky zucchini grow into large baseball bats. One minute they are too small and the next, a weapon!! My grandmother used to stuff her zucchini so I tried to recreate a similar recipe.  My garden has an abundance of Swiss chard as well so I wanted to use both ingredients.

Click on the image of my zucchini boats below for the recipe.  I know it will come in handy if you have the same crafty zucchini plants in your garden!!

Wednesday August 15, 2012

Heirloom Breeds & Seeds:
Year of the Dragon Carrots by Annie Reichert


Dragon Carrots are strong and sweet with a hint of hay on the inside complemented by a bitter, earth-fresh exterior. Standard carrots have been bred to be bright orange; you are likely connecting with an ancient line of carrots when you bite into white, yellow, purple, and red carrots. As all things you’ve just pulled up yourself, dragon carrots are delicious in the field, and crunch loudly enough to make your fellow gardener’s head turn. To emphasize their contrasting colors and simple summer crispness, enjoy these carrots in a shredded salad with olive oil, lemon, parsley, and salt. Alternately, to braise them in a little water and butter with a splash of orange flower water would bring out the wonderful sweet heart within the crimson dragon skin.

These were grown from organic seed at High Mowing Seeds in Wolcott, VT.

Saturday August 04, 2012

Storytelling Saturdays:
Heirloom Meals: using food to teach us about life by Rebecca Narum

I’ve had the opportunity to write on Heirloom Meals’ blog twice during my time at Boulder Wood Farm, and as my summer comes to an end I get one more opportunity to share my thoughts, experiences, etc. about food and life.  In previous posts I shared about my future—the essentials to my “some-day” kitchen; my past—the food experiences I had while living in Spain for the year; and now I am going to focus on the present—my summer working for Heirloom Meals.  What I have learned and received from this summer was unforeseeable but not surprising.  I showed up June 16th.  I was the last of the interns to arrive and now I am the last to leave. 

When I arrived I wasn’t exactly sure what to think or expect.  Although I had been abroad for a year and struggled to leave my family after only a couple weeks at home, I was ready to embark on a new adventure and I was excited to see what I would learn.  I was drawn to Heirloom Meals by its connection between food and culture, two of my passions.  However, I did not expect the genuine, authenticity and love that flows from both Boulder Wood Farm and Heirloom Meals.  These are the foundations of Heirloom Meals, which is why it is so special and has taught me so much about myself. 

This summer I was helping Carole to put together a Heirloom Meals cookbook proposal.  In doing so I got to read through many different people’s stories and recipes.  I have always loved hearing about other people’s lives and cultures because people’s stories can teach us so much about ourselves.  But, I did not expect to be so touched by my own family’s stories.  I was able to read through the submissions of my family’s traditional recipes and hear my family’s thoughts about them.  It reminded me how much I appreciate my own family’s traditions.  I am so intrigued by other cultures and learning from people who are different from me that I often overlook my own family’s uniqueness.  As great as it is to go out and explore the world, sometimes it is what is right under your nose that means the most.  I’ve been reminded of how important and special the simple things are in life and I have realized how important it is for me to maintain them and not get side-tracked by our big and extravagant world. 

This leads me to the second realization I made here at Heirloom Meals.  Success is defined in more than one way and I shouldn’t let myself be locked inside the ‘boxes’ society creates for us.  Heirloom Meals was founded by the conjoining of Carole’s passions for food and family and her inventive business background.  Being a young women about to graduate college I am beginning to seriously think about what path I want to take next in my life.  I have always struggled with this decision (as do most people), but I find myself limbo-ing between the different clear-cut ‘boxes’ in society, not wanting to leave any of them nor be fully submerge in one of them.  The idea of leaving college is exciting but also a little scary and stressful.  Working at Heirloom Meals has encouraged me to not put aside my passions and personal interests for success by societal standards as I move forward. 

I have such high admiration for Heirloom Meals because it is so real and shares the uniqueness found in our society.  It has been refreshing and eye opening to work for an organization that focuses on food, family, relationships and stories, and that reminds us of their importance.  I have been reminded of why I appreciate my family so much and how my past has shaped what I am passionate about now.  I have always loved to cook but never thought about how I might apply this to my intellectual interests for a job.  I don’t know if food is in my future career path or not, but this experience has given me hope that I will find a future path which combine my different interests!

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