Sunday, March 8, 2009

Three Women and a bowl of red

In our family, there are three women who were born in the month of March. My youngest sister Rebecca (Buck or Aunt Buck), Jen, my daughter and Becky, my niece. Family members have long thought that the March women in our family are a very special group. They have strong personalities, are very funny and pretty much a great time. They are also women of deep convictions about family, love and caring. All are also oriented to caring about the world and other people and make personal scarifices to make life better and help create a better world.

Rebecca is a professor at Michigan State in the medical school. She balances work, her daughter, her special guy and Mimi and Bobo in busy days, work travel with fishing, the arts and being Miss Carhardt on the farm. She chops wood and is devoted farm worker. She has an incredible heart and compassion. When she was in elementary school my Dad was worried about her ability to apply herself academically and would have some chats with her about it. Our favorite answer to his concerns was her reply that all of that really didn't matter because she was the funniest kid in the class.

Jen is the mom to Eli and Gabe and partner to the awesome Josh. Their family is waiting for child number 3 said to be a baby girl. I refer to the baby as the mermaid. Jen is a health educator and has a master's degree in student development. She is using her degree to rear her wonderful children and Elliott the little guy she cares for. Elliott's Mom and Dad are adding a new one to their family as well so Jen will care for the tribe of five this fall. Jen and Josh are extraordinary parents and community members. They are pursuing Landmark Education to create the possibility of a better world and life for everyone. Jen is one of the most intentional women I know. Jen is a warrior who fights for life and love. Bobo's nickname for Jen when she was little was Screech. This was a great name because she truly screeched. She told Bobo she didn't like that name at all. Dad told her that if she didn't want that name she needed to change her behavior - which she promptly did.

Becky my niece is named for Aunt Buck. She is a teacher of children with special needs. Becky and Jen received their Master's degrees in the same year and of course we had a family celebration. Becky is smart, witty, fun, committed and lives with a wonderful outlook on life and what it means to be Becky. Becky is a person who loves with a great fire. I tell her she is a comet. Becky is a pretty woman and she was adorable as a little girl. She had brown hair in ringlets, blue eyes and freckles sprinkled across her nose. She and her Mom would run errands together. Once on the way home Becky burst into tears. Sue asked her what was wrong and she wailed, "No one told me I was pretty!"

You would be disappointed and think me remiss if I did not describe their culinary orientation. Rebecca long held a somewhat distant relationship with cooking. She was a meat and potatoes girl and pretty much survived childhood with peanut butter. She liked dishes made with fewer than four ingredients and made in 1 step. She called me years ago for a pork recipe. I gave her a delicious recipe for pulled pork that required boiling the pork in water and spices, baking the pork to tenderness and using some of the broth to create a baste that would be applied during the long roasting to further season the meat. I thought it was easy and I described the recipe and the process to her and she decided to make it. I received a call from her that her lovely David terms a "buckburst". Basically she was extremely miffed that I would subject her to this. Love can do wonderous things and she and David are wonderful cooks and entertainers. Beck's skills have really advanced. One of the few recipes I have from this sister was a recipe for Moo Shu Pork with home made Mandarin Pancakes. This is a recipe from the same time period as the pulled pork buckburst. Go figure!

Jen grew up in a house that was food oriented and she loves to cook and enjoy times with friends and family around food as the lubricant for a special time. Like me she creates community around food. She and Josh are adventurous eaters and cooks. They participate in a CSA, she goes to many different grocery stores depending on the items to be purchased and they shop the farmers market. They love ethnic foods and search out the little hole in the wall places that are so good and so fun.

I am not sure about Becky's cooking skills but she is a devoted appreciator of food and is a great partner in the kitchen for family vacation meals. Being single there isn't much reason to acquire lots of skills in cooking. She is a person who is a lover of life and friends and lots of fun is related to music and those same friends. If she has a culinary spcialty it would be potatoes. She has a great potato casserole recipe and at Thanksgiving directed her mother in making sweet potatoes that were slowly cooked and carmelized in a bath of butter, brown sugar and spices. It was a long process with awesome results.

One of Aunt Buck's primo recipes is a chili recipe. Coming from a family of chili lovers we've all configured our own take on this beloved dish. Rebecca called hers Michigan Meltdown. She took this recipe to a chili cookoff at her department of the university. If memory serves me correctly it was a winner. So in honor of lingering snows in Washington and Colorado and iffy Michigan weather here is the last winter recipe as we wait for spring.

Michigan Meltdown (I write this in the style of Buck as she gave it to me)

Simmer 8 ounces pinto beans cooked with 2 16 ounce cans of tomatoes for 5 minutes
Saute 4 chopped green peppers in oil for 5 minutes. Add 3 large chopped onions and cook until tender. Add 2 cloves of crushed garlic and 1/2 C. chopped parsley.
Saute 2 1/2 lbs ground beef and 1 lb lean ground pork for 15 minutes.
Combine with the onion mixture and 1/3 C. chili powder, simmer 10 minutes.
Add beans with 2 T. salt, 1 1/2 t. pepper, 1 1/2 t. ground cumin, 1 t. oregano, 3 cloves and 1 bayleaf.
Simmer covered 1 hour, uncovered 30 minutes. Skim off fat.

Happy Birthday to three incredible women we are blessed to have in our family.

1 comment:

  1. What a super tribute!!! I might give this chili a try. We are real chili eaters, but you know me....not too hot and spicy.