Today is my father-in-law’s birthday.
And two days ago was Firstborn Daughter’s birthday.
You may wonder why I am posting about my Mom today instead of them. Well, here’s the thing. I started testing recipes earlier this summer to commemorate their special days. But I didn’t finish. I am not stressing about it, I just haven’t done it yet. I learned long ago that I can’t let life get in the way of living. I would rather celebrate with them than write about celebrating them. So I went to New York last week to be with Firstborn Daughter and now I’m in San Francisco for Father-In-Law’s birthday. I’m doing a lot of living.
Last night Father-In-Law started reminiscing with his brother about childhood and family life and stories from growing up. They are the stories that I love. Stories that let us peek into his world and envision a life that we didn’t live with him. Mom gave me that peek into her world recently too and as I listened to Father-In-Law’s stories I remembered I hadn’t posted Mom’s story yet. That is how my brain works. The stories pile up in there and then pop out when triggered by something. So today I’m posting about Mom.
Mom seems to really like my blog.
She doesn’t have email or Facebook so she can’t subscribe but she does have a computer and access to the internet so she goes to my site to see what I have posted. She comes from an era where writers got paid if their stories were published so she’s not so sure I should write for free, but she likes reading my stories. And I like having her read them so she can keep me honest and correct me when something from my memory isn’t quite accurate.
Mom called me recently and said she had an idea for my blog. She didn’t have a recipe to go with it but she thought it was an interesting topic and it did relate to my cooking. She told me about it then wrote it all down for me and mailed it to me so I would remember the details. Mom is awesome.
Her story goes back to her childhood and as you will read, Mom has an amazing memory. I couldn’t remember what she told me on the phone a week later so it is a good thing she mailed me the details. Clearly, she knows me well. With her note, she sent a photo of her parent’s house at 1201 Yankee Road in Middletown, Ohio, and included the information that they bought in 1930 for $3500.
Mom remembers a tiny door built into the side of the house where the milkman could leave his 5:00am delivery and they could retrieve it in the kitchen when they awoke. They would get fresh milk, cream, butter and cheese. Bread was also delivered every day but tea and coffee was just on Friday. The tiny grocery was a block away from the house but it wasn’t necessary to go there. Mom’s mom would call in her order every morning and by 3:00pm it was delivered to a room at the back of the house. The ironing lady picked up on Tuesday and delivered on Thursday. Even the Avon lady delivered toothpaste and soap once a month. All to the room at the back of the house where the door was always unlocked and the things were left on the table if no one was home. Everything was on an account so no money changed hands from day to day.
Mom said people would come to the back door sometimes asking for food. Her mother would provide them a plate of food, which they ate while perched on the back steps before returning the plate with words of thanks for the meal. It was just how things were at the time. If someone was hungry, they asked for food and you fed them. What a lovely concept.
The bus stopped on the road in front of the house so Mom remembers a childhood filled with freedom. They could walk into town or they could go even farther on the bus. Her and her siblings cried when they moved to a grand house in the country but it seems they got over it once they started going to the brand new supermarket. The supermarket was about 20 minutes from their home and they went once a week. Mom remembers how much her mother hated the store. But Mom and her siblings loved the access to all the new treats they could find. They didn’t have an ice cream parlor nearby like at their old house, but now they could have ice cream in their own home! At the time, they thought this was progress..
The point of Mom telling me all this, so she said, was that my life when I lived in Australia reminded her of those early days on Yankee Road and she thought I should write about it. My years living in Australia reminded her of a time gone by in America, a time when food was local and fresh. Mom has such clear memories of her years on Yankee Road. And I have clear memories that some of the happiest days of my life were when I lived in Australia with three young children, a husband that worked and traveled nonstop, and not a moment to myself.
I think often about why that time was so happy. I realized long ago, shortly after I moved back to the States, that it was about the food. Fulfilling the daily needs of my family was not a chore. It was a pleasurable outing. I walked a block away pushing a double stroller where I chose my fresh food from variety of shops including a butcher, fish market, baker, produce stand and general store. I knew all the owners and on the days I bought more than a few things, the owner of the general store would take it from me and deliver it all to my house. He delivered to me a lot. I cooked nearly every day feeding five or six people or more. The funny thing is, it didn’t feel hard. It was deliciously simple.
Those days in Australia gave me great perspective on how to enjoy the way I shop, eat, cook and entertain. Luckily, we moved from Australia to California so my focus on fresh goodness is available at my fingertips every day.
Like Mom said, she didn’t have a recipe to go with the memories of her youth. So this dessert isn’t Mom’s recipe, it is my recipe, reminiscent of that time Mom recalled when life was simple and food was based on fresh goodness. I created it for Mom, her memory and her inspiration. It combines the delicious flavor of blueberries fresh off the bush, with homemade lemon curd all tart and creamy, and a nutty crust laden with butter. It was the dessert that would have been made in Mom’s day when everything was fresh and good. I’m calling it Mom’s Memory Pie.
“I can’t let life get in the way of living.” – Cynthia Spivey
Mom’s Memory Pie (aka Blueberry Lemon Tart)
1 gluten-free tart crust (from Chris’ Raspberry Tart sans gluten)
1/2 cup marscapone, room temperature
2-3 T. powdered sugar
1-2 T heavy cream (only if needed)
1/2 cup lemon curd (homemade is best)
2-4 cups fresh blueberries
fresh mint and powdered sugar for garnish
Bake tart shell and let cool completely.
Mix marscapone and powdered sugar until thoroughly combined. If mixture is too thick to easily spread, add 1-2 T heavy cream.
Spread marscapone mixture evenly on tart crust. Refrigerate for one hour.
Spread lemon curd evenly on top of marscapone.
Top with blueberries. (2 cups if you want a single layer, 3 or 4 cups if you want it piled high.)
Refrigerate. Set out 15 minutes before serving.
Sprinkle with powdered sugar and garnish with mint leaves.
Serve with stories of favorite memories.