I’m often asked how I got started cooking. It’s really hard to remember. I guess there was a cooking class here or there where I was taught knife skills or sanitation. We made simple grilled cheese or chicken nuggets. All of these simple memories kind of blur together.
The one thing I can really point to is the stories. The kitchen is filled with stories. The stories that are shared with me, fill me. My cooking is infused with these stories. My food is filled with memories of childhood, of celebrations, of favorite places and times.
Today, I was reminded of why love cooking so much. I spent the day with the kindest stranger ever. Recently, I inquired about acquiring some serviceberries. I really like them. We had them at my old house, but since we moved I haven’t even seen them. Many people think that serviceberry trees are purely ornamental and they are beautiful. The flowers are white with red berries. The berries are sweet and juicy, but you got to fight the birds to get any for yourself.
Anyway, this kind fellow told me that he had a few and he would love to share if I could get there. Of course, I did and I had the best afternoon. He shared stories of his uncle’s humor and his grandfather immigrating from Moghilev, a small town in Belarus around 1906.
We made jam and joked around. We laughed so much that we may have even messed up the jam, but who cares.
Afterward, he gave me a tour of his amazing garden. I know I’m missing something, but he has 2 paw paw trees, Serviceberry trees, over 40 types of Apple trees, Elderberries and native Illinois cactuses. Among other things, he is a beekeeper with 5 bee boxes.
When we ended the afternoon, he shared the jam we made and gave me a jar, some beautiful flower clippings, and an invitation to come back when more fruit has ripened.
We started the afternoon as strangers. Now, because of food this stranger is no longer a stranger. He is a friend💕
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