Monday, March 31, 2008

Hospitality - Food Makes the World Go Round

My mother was a remarkable woman. Even with a large family and responsibilities, she always made each of us feel loved and cherished. On the more practical side, there was always an abundance of food and clean clothes. In addition, she sewed our clothes, remodeled rooms, refinished and reupholstered furniture, and wallpapered and painted with abandon. We never had much money to spare, but we had everything we needed.

We lived on a fifty-acre farm just outside a small town in central Illinois. Dad worked long hours as a welder in a factory, plus he farmed corn or beans in his “spare” time. In our younger years, Mom stayed at home and volunteered regularly at church, at school and in the community.

Every year we would have a huge vegetable garden with tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, green beans, potatoes, sweet corn, cabbage, lettuce and radishes. We also had a large strawberry patch, watermelons and muskmelon cantaloupe. We canned and froze each harvest regularly during the summer, with bushels of tomatoes, green beans and peaches becoming staples for the long winter months. And a bonus in retrospect is that all the food would have been naturally organic.

Sundays were family days that started with morning Mass followed by a big breakfast. Family or friends frequently stopped by to visit later in the afternoon. My mother was a marvel at fixing an excellent meal for however many people were home at the time. She was the consummate hostess and never got flustered by the details. Years later when I had my own home I realized how amazing it was that she had everything on hand that she needed.

Banana Praline Muffins
3 T Brown Sugar 1 T Sour Cream
½ C Broken Pecans 3 small Bananas, mashed
1 Egg, slightly beaten ½ C Sugar
¼ C Vegetable Oil 1 ½ C Complete Pancake Mix
• Line muffin tins with cupcake papers. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
• In small bowl, combine Brown Sugar, Cream and Pecans.
• In medium bowl, combine Egg, Sugar, Oil & Banana.
• Add Pancake Mix, stirring just until blended.
• Fill muffin pans 2/3 full. Drop 1 t Pecan Mixture into each muffin
• Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 400 degrees.

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