Passions Part 1
Things I am passionate about are food, manners, self-defense, family, Christmas, and entertainment!
These things I must say come naturally to me mostly because it was how I was raised and what I knew that I really loved. Because I can go on and on about all these passions it’s probably best to start at the beginning and work my way around. I think I’m not alone here, many of you probably feel the same, well, at least on a few of these things and you might find similarities in my journey to discovery to yours. I believe they will all make for a fun story and a good read.
I’m going to break down each one of these passions in a different blog and then tie them together to help you understand how all this is part of who I am and can probably described to the “t”, oh and yeah, tea, that’s another thing I’m passionate about and will explain later, but for now here’s the story of the first passion…
Food, that’s a simple one to explain because I was raised on amazing home cooking. There were no shortage of stout cooks in my family. My great grandmother could always be found in her kitchen. Well, I got a peek at least, she was particular and had to have things just right, and us kids just got in the way of her flow so we sat in the living room, just inhaling the smells. She had a swing kitchen door and each time it’d swing open I’d peek over, I wanted to see the creator create. We ate at her house for Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, big family dinners. She’d bring out one dish at a time, she’d swing that door open and out she’d come with her apron on bringing out huge plates. Size didn’t compensate for taste, she just made lots of food, we Nolte’s could put it away and then make room for seconds! Great Grandma Brown always made homemade bread, pies, savory dishes, full course meals that would make a kings table look like a paupers table. Food was in abundance there and the moment you pulled up into her driveway you could smell the warmth and deliciousness of the food that was yet to be plated. Her homemade rolls with real butter were as big as your fist, and she knew it was good too. She’d watch out of the corner of her eye to see the satisfied souls feasting and smiling, licking their lips.
She also had the nice table set up. Fancy butter dishes and special butter knives, small crystal plates, ceramic platters, shiny silverware, nice table cloth, large heavy wooden chairs around a large wooded table. This didn’t make food taste any different but it helped you mind your manners for sure. When it comes to table manners, this is the side of the family where those became instilled, that’s a whole other story right there. In fact, a story I’ve written a book about that hopefully will be available this year! But back to Great Grandma Brown, my top 2 favorite things she made were and will always be her homemade bread and her homemade pecan pie.
These two recipes were handed down to me and I’ve made these items for my loved ones over the years and they are always crowd favorites!
Because of her that meant her daughter, my grandmother “GG” was also an excellent cook. Although her food delights were 3 main dinner meals, which are all still my favorite dinners to this day; flat enchiladas, seafood gumbo and tangy yet a savory chicken dish she designed called Filipino chicken. She also baked, one desert that could win a blue ribbon at a fair is her homemade chocolate chip cookies! These beautiful as big as your hand delights were both, crunch, chewy, soft, sweet, melt in your mouth, close your eyeballs, lick your lips, hum to yourself, dang good!!
Her cookies would make these new fad cookie shops seem amateur to the taste! She’s almost 90 years old and she still makes these delicious homemade chocolate chip cookies!
In fact it’s such a delight that I’ve said for decades now when I die and go to heaven, God will have for me 3 things, these 3 things for whenever I want because they are all heavenly to me!
1. Homemade from the kitchen crispy tacos (gotta have sour cream and plenty of salsa)
2. A Mexican Coke
3. My GG’s Chocolate chip cookies (w pecans)
My GG would bake them and keep ‘em in a big glass cookie jar, or in piles of foil because she made so many. When she gets in the mood, she wrecks havoc in the kitchen, this woman could make herself busier than a long tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs!
These cookies also explain another children’s book I wrote. It’s titled I Love Cookies. I wrote it several years ago, I read it again and again to little ones and older ones and everyone loves the book. This one I also hope to have out this year. I’ve been seeking illustrators, I have a good idea of how I want the pages designed and illustrations just have yet to nail down the perfect one for the job. None the Less, the cookies were part of my joy growing up! GG always sings when she bakes, she dances, laughs, she is just the happiest and has the most fun serving her kids, and her grandkids. What a woman, what a cookie!
Now, because my dads mother and his grandmother were AMAZING at creating meals and dishes and treats, he naturally gained that skill! Boy am I ever grateful too, My dad was the main cook in the house, my mom, yeah not so much. She was much better at cleaning house, running errands and tending to us kids and that was plenty. She would make simple food like a garden salad, or fruit salad, maybe potato salad… I really don’t recall her making anything other than that besides brownies from a box, which who doesn’t love brownies from a box right? (Although my dad did make them better!)
Poor mom, she won’t get props for this blog post but she did get to enjoy all these delicious meals my dad made. He would make Homemade fried chicken, biscuits, bbq, gumbo, fajitas, waffles, tacos (heaven food), homemade ice cream, homemade spaghetti sauce, venison, fried fish, dove, even fried liver and grilled onions were awesome! We had iron skillets, you can’t get much better than that, boy how everything looked beautiful in that skillet!
We had a super small kitchen, but that never stopped him. We even had a ironing board that came out of the wall, he’d use that for extra counter space, it worked! My dad made EXCELLENT cookies, same GG recipe but different, he claims it’s a little different and I’m not complaining because they are both divine! That cookie book I wrote, he’s the baker in the story. He’d always tell me “I have a secret recipe”! We even operated and owned a ice cream parlor for a few years. He always made us kids a special ice cream treat called daddy’s delight. To this day it’s still a special treat and even now I’m passing it on to my step kids. But my grown kids and nieces and nephews will say to someone in the family when they are having a sweet tooth with enthusiasm… “Can we have Daddy’s Delight?” We served it, Daddy’s Delight at Club Madrid Gras Ice Cream Parlor in Santa Fe, and it was the top seller!
Back in my household kitchen, my dad knew of my interest in cooking because he knew my interest in food! I was the last to leave the table. I’d sit next to my dad, mainly because he’d like to tell stories and always had a funny joke, he’d serve our plates and with abundance, correct our table manners if needed, and we’d dig in. I never understood why my brother was a picky eater or my baby sister would take her time, or my older sister just ate and left the table, the dinner table was my favorite part of the day. I registered how to make this and that, he’d let me stir now and again, coat, or assist in some way, I was an apprentice cook in the making, and it paid off!
My dad still loves to cook, he still only uses cast iron, and me, I’m the cook in my house, I have a hanging rack full of cast iron pans, they are my favorite to cook and bake with and they are part of my kitchen decor!
Not quite done with the food and family chefs. There is one more I saved for last. Save the best for last right? It’s hard to describe my mothers mother Inez’s cooking and baking. There aren’t words yet in human vocabulary that describe the flawlessness of her craft. I can begin to explain the joy she had for cooking, The joy she had in serving me. The joy she had in serving EVERYONE that walked into her house. She always. I repeat, she ALWAYS had something cooking. She prided herself on the freshest loaf of bread and garden tomatoes that sat in the kitchen window seal as big as the smile on your face. She used the top of her washing machine for a make shift sandwich making station. She had a toaster oven to make us grandkids a melted cheese toast in between meals just because, and her cokes were ice cold with bits of ice in the can, she was never short of popsicles or moon pies, or fruit, or miracle whip for hand pressed ham sandwiches or hamburgers with all the fixings. By golly she used an iron skillet for them burger patties as thick and spread out as your hand. When she made burgers you could smell the savory meat cooking in lard from around the corner in your car with the windows rolled up! When you pulled up to the driveway your mouth was already watering!
I could not believe how beautiful the color of her chicken and dumplings were, the pot as tall as her stove, I can only visualize angels hovering over her house just smelling her chicken and dumplings. She boiled a whole fat fryer, peeled the chicken, made the broth from scratch from the stock with the simplest but perfect spices, creamy thick soup that filled your belly, it was like eating a four course meal in one bowl!
Her homemade meatballs, meatloaf, spaghetti, fried chicken, mashed potatoes, potato salad, and her trifecta of hot meals is her legendary cornbread dressing and gravy. God had his hand in her cooking, it all was in abundance and heavenly. Her presentation of her food, more attractive than any food magazine I’ve ever seen!
But that’s not all…this woman was balanced. She equally baked as excellent as she cooked! Take your pick of pies, we always did, and she was so proud of them, she’d smile, giggle and say “They sure are pretty aren’t they, hehe”. Chocolate chiffon, coconut cream, lemon chiffon, pecan pies, fruit pies. I want one slice in each hand please. There is one desert however that sets her apart from pies. It’s was the most beautiful, soft, moist, sweet, HUGE, PERFECT cake. It was her epic Coconut cake! I’ve never seen such a beautiful baked good, it seriously takes the cake, ha! I’d swear that cake was a tall as the mad hatters hat!
Grandma Inez didn’t have air conditioning but in the bedrooms. Her windows in the living room and kitchen would always be up. She was so busy in her little moo moo and sandals and she’d have a little sweat on her brow. She rarely sat down, because she was always making someone a plate! Then they had to have seconds!
My Grandma Inez hands down was the best cook and baker I’ve ever encountered in my life. She loved to cook and even loved to go to the butcher and market first thing in the morning. She also enjoyed others cooking/baking when at a church social but was verbal under her breath when she didn’t approve. She’d always make sure one of us kids would hear her “Um, not as good as mine” she’d say but look at the person and just smile and talk under her teeth, haha!
She became my pen pal when I moved out of the state and wrote down some of these recipes, these letters and recipes are true treasures to me, they are mini epic stories that I hold close to my heart, and if I think hard enough I can smell her cooking!
My Grandma Inez was one of the best story tellers I knew. I not only learned cooking and baking skills from her but the ability to tell a story in a way that captures the audience, she was awesome at it and I believe my story telling is part of her and I’m grateful for her love and desire to show her love through food and stories. Food is love to me sharing stories is also love and that’s why I’m so passionate about it and call myself a foodie and elated to write my stories and publish my books!
I’ve been to Germany and have had epic meals, Spain, again epic meals, but some of the best meals I’ve had have been in my own families kitchen and mine. Here’s to your joy of food, wonder if this story made you hungry, if so Bon appétit!;)’
Your Great Grandmother Norris Armstrong was also a good cook. Her favorites were tea cakes, coconut cake ( with hand shredded coconut) the best fruit cake ever, chicken and dressing—she did not like turkey and the best chili sauce and a recipe called piemontaun. This was a Louisiana recipe, a mixture of cooked tomatoes, cayenne pepper and eggs scrambled into the mixture. This was serve with beans and cornbread.
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I wish I would have been able to taste her cook’n, all that sounds so wonderful!!
Love your blog! So why would I need to cook when your Dad was such a great cook anyway! LOL Two cooks in the kitchen don’t mix! LOL How in the world can you remember all those details, Renee? You must have a photographic memory! Grandma Inez’s homemade desserts include her amazing banana pudding! There’s sooo much more that I could add but you hit on the highlights. (Btw…If I’m not mistaken…Phillipine chicken creation was my recipe I conjured up while living in Okinawa.)😍
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Thanks mom:) I can just pause and be as if I am in that moment during that time, reliving it again, enjoying it, appreciating it all over but from a different age. I did not however include Inez famous by family banana pudding because that has to be the only desert in the whole world that I cannot stand, that and jello, lol. Although I remember like it was yesterday cousin Chris and Dwaine would scarf it down!:) I do recall now you did come up w Filipino chicken and taught GG, she baked it at her house too, that is one of the best smelling dishes this side of the Rio Grande!
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