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Challenge: What Makes a Family?

More Than a Recipe

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If I am thinking correctly – many home décor shows reference the kitchen as the heart of the home. They won’t find any disagreement from me. The kitchen has always been the heart of the home in any home I have been a part of. I grew up where the women cooked, and I mean cooked. There wasn’t ever a shortage of something delicious coming out of a very hot kitchen. As the holidays approach – I think about this idea more and more that the kitchen truly is the home base for my family. It’s where our story begins and continues.

My Kirk Kirk. That sentence (as grammatically incorrect as it is) probably makes no sense to you. What in the world is a Kirk Kirk? Oh – I am about to explain, and then you will want one too. She is pictured above the day after I had my now seven-year-old daughter with my mom and myself. Isn't she beautiful?

My Kirk Kirk is my 86 year old grandmother.

Kirk Kirk is an amazing cook. I make the joke that I think she spits in dishes she makes because even when I use her recipe it always seems like something is missing that I just can’t recreate. No matter. It’s not so much replicating the recipe that makes me want to write about this. Although her recipes are fantastic, and I dare anyone challenge her carrot cake. YUM.

But it’s more than a recipe. Its years of family tradition passed through food. And if you want to tell me food isn’t a love language – then you need to find Jesus. Because it really is.

My mother learned a lot from her mother, and now that same knowledge has been passed down to my sister and myself. I just can’t say I honestly realized what was happening all those years. I didn’t realize helping with the Thanksgiving staples, the Christmas dinners, the Sunday roasts, and the weeknight fried potatoes that I would be a part of a much bigger plan. I was a part of a long string of memory making. Hours of cooking and prepping led to hours of conversations, hours of advice and laughter and love that I wouldn’t trade for the world. Those moments defined my upbringing.

It’s more than a recipe. It’s the time and love spent with her and on each item she made. Not only did she cook Sunday lunches for years for us and anyone wanting to come eat, it was the meals prepped for others who were down on their luck, those with a lost loved one, some stricken with illness, and countless other reasons she made up to take someone a warm meal.

I watched her serve, give, and comfort through the simple avenue of food. I was taught a lot about life through watching her. Lessons I wouldn’t understand for years to come.

Ten years ago, it was mine and my sister’s first years both being married off. So, as a Christmas gift – my mother put together the holy grail of family cooking – all of our favorite recipes from family and close friends together in a binder. She took the handwritten recipes and made copies of all the recipes our family looks forward to for events at different times of the year. Many of these recipes are my Kirk Kirk’s. Many of the copies I have are from the handwritten cards she used to notate these recipes. My mother apparently hoards the real ones, but I’ll take what I can get. I have had this binder, again, for ten years and I have been able to make notes in it and make it my own. Mostly because “some”, “a pinch”, “a little”, “about half of a little” aren’t exactly measurements and I kind of need to know what they mean. So, notes here and there of how to get the desired outcome have been made. I have spilled on, torn, and ravaged this recipe book – and every time I look at it – I love it more. I have also added to it. There are new concoctions that my husband and I have worked on and incorporated into our own little family over the last ten years. So the book has grown and will be a treasure for my kids too. They will be able to use it to recreate some memories of their own childhood.

I can’t tell you how grateful I am that my Kirk Kirk took the time for so many years to teach my mom, my sister, and myself the ins and outs of how to work a kitchen. But so much more than that – it was the time spent together in that kitchen talking, laughing, and at times, crying. Those are the cherished moments and memories we make. I am trying so hard to convey how special these moments are with my own children. Anytime they can get in the kitchen with myself or my mom – I know they are experiencing something that they will be so thankful for later in life.

It’s more than a recipe.

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