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Anniversaries

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Every time I look at my phone today, the date jumps out. It was 72 years ago today that my parents got married.

It looked like a lovely May day. Not rainy and cold, the way it is today.

My parents were married 52 years, before we lost my dad. I remember their 50th vividly. I went with them to Alaska, the last state to visit by my dad. They didn’t want to go alone so a friend of mine and me booked a cabin on their ship and went with them. Our better halves were in the midst of major work projects so were OK with staying home.

I love this picture.

My dad and I in Ketchikan.

They really enjoyed this trip, and my biggest regret was canceling the trip for us to get to Hawaii the next year. 9/11 got in the way. My dad had been in Hawaii during WWII, but it was the only state left for my mom to visit.

We rescheduled the trip for 2003 but my dad passed away before we got to go there.

These things make me remember. Life is precious. Don’t procrastinate. Do those wild crazy things before you run out of time.

Bundookies

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Lithuanian Meatballs.

Why am I writing about Lithuanian meatballs? Because a deli in my husband’s hometown had them in their freezer. Along with kielbasa.

We took a trip to “Shen-do”, Shenandoah PA, where my husband was born and grew up. It’s been at least 4 years since we took that three hour drive and all because of kielbasa.

According to my husband Kowalonek’s makes the best kielbo. The absolute best. Fresh kielbasa, heavy with garlic and coarsely ground. I have bought kielbasa many places in MD and southern PA but they don’t measure up to his favorite.

This is a local staple, and one that draws people from out of state to buy their fresh and their smoked versions. Lots of non-PA license tags in the parking lot. Take a number. We were #21 and they were serving #11 when we visited two weeks ago. People were spending quite a bit to stock up. Like over $100 of mostly $5.99/lb rings of kielbasa. Coolers in their truck bed. This is serious Polish sausage love.

We also saw they have a competitor. A Lithuanian deli just down the road off Main St. That’s where we found bundookies, and brought them home. Along with fresh and smoked kielbasa from both places.

Kowalonek’s has the best fresh kielbasa and Lucky’s has the best smoked version.

We did a smoked kielbasa throw down one night, and declared the really smoky, dense Lucky’s kielbasa the winner. Those rings of kielbasa turned into five dinners

Lucky’s is owned by a Lithuanian family. My mother-in-law was Lithuanian and we know she made us bundookies but just called them pork meatballs. They are an interesting blend, using saltines as the binder. You mix them all up, sear them in a pan and finish them in the oven.

I got the recipe from a “coal cracker” website. Doctored it a little, as I didn’t have evaporated milk. The recipe calls for allspice, which most definitely gives it a different profile than our Italian inspired versions of meatballs, The amazing coal cracker blog from Lori has the full recipe.

I will be making these often. Defrosting some ground pork to make them again this weekend.

Memories in a pan.

Christmas Past

It’s been a very quiet Christmas. We changed plans of visiting friends this afternoon, and we weren’t going to travel anywhere for a while. So, the Packers and Browns have to entertain us.

I have been digging around in the old photo albums and decided to digitize many of them. Today is a perfect chance to share a few of those. And to remember.

I have also been spending time rummaging around on Ancestry and adding pictures from our boxes in the attic.

I think this one below was from my second Christmas.

At my mom’s parents. We lived with them while my granddad was ill but this picture was a year before that. I was the first grandchild.

I am still cataloging the boxes with my husband’s early pictures but found one of him and his younger sister.

I can tell you some of those train garden houses under their tree are in my attic 60 years later.

We spent most Christmases in PA with my mother in law, but still had family get togethers at my parents when we returned home to exchange presents. I remember years of the tree being in the basement rec room. And us swapping gifts with everyone down there.

My mom loved to get us lots of little things to open. Christmas really was a big deal for her, and we reaped the rewards of her shopping for us. We moved it all up into the living room as they got older and our families grew.

My kitchen has many items she bought us. She brought things home from trips and outlet visits for most of the year and had them wrapped months in advance.

I miss my mom. Christmas just isn’t the same.

And I miss my dad. I found this picture from Christmas sometime in the 1980’s when they still had Jake, their husky.

This was typical Jake pouting and pretending that he wasn’t being talked to. He was the sweetest, gentlest dog who let us live with him in his kingdom for 14 years. But he could be so stubborn and would let us know his feelings with his distinctive husky vocalizing.

Yeah, the holidays are tougher when you get older and lose family and friends. I feel for those going through this as their first Christmas after losing a loved one.

We all just need to hang in there and hope for a better 2022. So that our Christmas futures can all be brighter.

Dad’s Day

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It has been 18 years since I lost my dad. Every Father’s Day for me is hard because he was a very special person. He believed in me and encouraged me.

I was digging through old photographs today while cleaning up my “Peter Rabbit Room”. It’s what a friend calls that spare room full of stuff. I found one of our Alaska pictures. Probably the last time I had my picture taken with my dad, in Ketchikan.

My dad had been to every state but Alaska. It was my parents’ 50th anniversary and my friend and I went with them to help them navigate their first cruise, and a trip to celebrate that milestone.

It was special for me to watch their joy at seeing glaciers and whales.

I was the first grandchild on both sides of my family. I don’t think there was a person who didn’t hold me for pictures. But this one, of my dad with me for my first Easter shows all that happiness.

The first and the last. This was my first Easter in 1953 when I was just over 3 months old.

The Alaska trip pictures were my last ones with my dad, who passed away 2 1/2 years later.

Happy Father’s Day, dad. Miss you.

Gingerbread

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Do you sometimes crave those simple desserts from your childhood? Like real gingerbread. Not the cookies, but the cakey moist flavorful version, made from scratch.

For me, a few minutes spent sifting through my old recipe cards yielded this oldy but goody.

From the McCalls Recipe Box, which was my husband’s. I had the Betty Crocker box. I was cleaning out some stuff in the bookcase back in the bonus room over our garage I was trying to decide whether it was time to let go of the recipe cards. But they were how I learned, and so did my husband, to cook.

I was looking for comfort food, and gingerbread certainly fits the bill. I made a few adjustments. I went a little heavy on the spices. I used Grandma’s molasses, which I believe is dark molasses. I used the last of the self rising flour from one of my curbside pickups, where it was a substitute when flour was scarce. That meant no baking soda. I used a 10 by 15 pan so my gingerbread wasn’t the same height as the recipe showed.

Still, it is a wonderful trip back to the days of homemade goodies baked by my mom.

I really enjoyed doing this. I will have to dig through the cards and find something else to evoke those memories. Baking from scratch. Nothing from a box even comes close.

Standing in a Crowded Fireplace …

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… and yelling “Theater, Theater!!”. One of my favorite JK Lea quotes. For whatever reason as we approach St. Patrick’s Day, I got to remembering how great JK’s Pub was. How it was our neighborhood bar. How much JK put of himself into making it special.

This triggered the memories. I found my 15th Anniversary mug, and my husband had to have a Guiness to toast the occasion.

For quite a long time it was the place to go after work to relax and meet others. Our next door neighbors met there. Got engaged there. Married there. Quite a number of people did the same. We met a couple at the blogtail party who also married there. And, they knew our neighbors and played darts with their son. The small world of Howard County.

I don’t know if there is any place like it still in Columbia. There are bars, yes, and happy hours, but the old time, every one knows each other, neighborhood bars seem to have disappeared. Or maybe it’s just because I am getting old, and don’t frequent bars like we did when we were young and relatively free to go out many nights.

Other favorites from our past in Howard County —

Roy’s Place Too
Last Chance
The Allview Inn

As for today, it seems to us that Iron Bridge comes close. So does Victoria’s.

Others????

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

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