Hello friends, family and fellow foodies! And welcome to the inaugural posting of my new blog, sharing my memories and musings through my passion and love for food. I'm Andrea Siebert Peterson, a 43 year old suburban mom with a business degree and hours toward a masters. My 22+ years experience in the working world revolve around business operations and meetings & events management in the real estate industry and non-profit sectors. I have been married to my college sweetheart for 22+ years and we enjoy raising 2 beautiful daughters who are rapidly forcing us into "empty nesthood."
Family is a huge part of our lives as I'm the eldest daughter in a group of 7 children. Being raised in mid-western and then Texas Panhandle farm communities, it's no small wonder I've probably spent more working hours in the kitchen than any other room in the house!
After a fairly recent corporate layoff, I have been trying to find my new niche in the working world. No matter what book I read or where I turn, doing what I love always brings me back to food. So, it's time to find out where that passion can take me. It seems a blog is a great way to start, since it is a commitment to a regular diet, in a manner of speaking, manifested in both word and deed! I hope to share with you the most about the memories of food that have made up the quilted tapestry of my life. It's a long list, often fraught with some tears, but also celebrating great triumphs.
To begin at the beginning I must share with you my first ever kitchen triumph. It started on a hot, sticky day in our Nebraska kitchen. I was only 8 years old yet had already spent numerous hours (years!) on a stool working side by side with my mother who seemed to always be in the kitchen. Keeping up with the hunger needs of my dad, older brother, cousins, and hired hands, who were helping with corn planting, irrigating, wheat harvest and the like, was no small feat. In those days at our house there were 4 main mealtimes instead of the standard American 3. Around 4-5 pm my dad and the boys would all come in for fortitude to sustain them through the evening working hours that often didn't end until dark or later. Usually we served sandwiches on slices of thick, soft homemade white bread my mother baked by hand once a week. In my visual memory bank I see huge pitchers of sweating iced sweet tea and cold watermelon on the table and whatever homemade goodies my mom happened to decide to bake that afternoon. Chocolate chip cookies, banana bread, marshmallow brownies, my aunt's amazing chocolate cake, and scotcheroos (a peanut butter crisped cereal treat covered in milk chocolate) all come to mind (and will be shared with you soon).
This particular day as I recall, one of the little ones was fussy. Mom asked me to step up and bake a cake. "You can do it without me," she directed, "you know how now." OK, so it wasn't from scratch (thank you Duncan Hines), but it was the remembering to preheat the oven (something my mother did for me by default for many years, causing problems later in married life, but that's an entirely separate story), correctly greasing the pans, following the directions on the box to add proper ingredients, waiting the requisite time to remove from pans once baked, and assembling with beautiful icing to create a two-layer, orange wonder that were my 8-year old accomplishments. None of this compared, however, to what happened next.
My father is child number 9 in a family of 10 children. I don't think the birth order books can truly address his personality due to the sheer size of this tribe. But, I can tell you he is one of the most honest, hard-working, individuals I've ever known. He is one of those rare individuals who simply cannot pass up stopping to help a wayward soul along the road experiencing car trouble. In this case a stranger had a flat tire, and despite the busy-ness of Dad's summer day, it was no exception. This was the 70's folks--the times of no cell phones and rural roads for us specifically. I will never forget the timing of dad bringing home this man who needed to "phone a friend to help him to the next level" and ended up around our late afternoon table. I will always remember the pride on my father's face, showing off his little darling's cake and sharing it with this stranger! It was that day that fireworks burst in my brain and one of the biggest "AHA" moments of my life occurred: You can make people happy--deliriously happy--by simply serving them your food! This thought clearly took root that day and has been manifest throughout my life. Food that is fostered in love becomes a jubilant experience, both for the creator and the partaker! The stranger, who I never laid eyes on again in my life, oohed and awed about my cake, how wonderful it was that I was so young and yet did such an excellent job, how special it was to be given such a rare treat!
And, for me it was not pride so much as the reality that food has power. The creating, the timing, the giving, each provides it's own certain reward. (And, in a strange way, the old adage that "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach" was clearly in the mix that day as well.) As the years have flown by, I've watched the family gather and the food fill stomachs and the stories begin. And the other common denominator for me has been the indescribable feeling I get from seeing the pleasure on the faces of those who taste my food, fork suspended (sometimes with eyes closed) experiencing a moment of euphoria and often creating a special memory that will last through the ages. I literally live for those moments since I've experienced so many of them behind the fork at others' tables and restaurants myself!
Thus, we begin this journey together to experience the sanctuary of this supertaster: my kitchen, the heart of my home. And even though I didn't include a recipe today, hopefully there will always be 1 or 2 to tempt your tastebuds. I look forward to sharing with you and hearing from you and dreaming about you with your fork poised in the air!