The pieces left behind

I’ve been thinking lately about posterity. It comes with the prominence of wrinkles. I’ve wondered what my children will remember most about me. It might be that I was a strict mother (She was mean!), or that I preferred family time over all else (She never let us have our friends over!), or that I made everything from scratch (She made us eat whole grain noodles!), or that I loved family movie night (She used to hog the couch on movie night!). Above all else, I hope they recall how much I love them (She wanted to hug us all the time!).

Life is about more than today, and more than yourself.

We cannot as children know the mind of our parents. Not until we grow older and have lived a bit of life. Was I strict? Of course! There’s no better way to learn right from wrong, manners and good behavior, than at and from home. I was their first teacher. If it meant I taught them to survive, I’ll gladly wear the “Mean” banner. My reward? I have very well-mannered adult children. Were their friends welcome? Of course! Did I prefer time with my children than time with all others? Of course! Only a parent knows. Do I love their friends? Of course! I just prefer my kids. My reward? My kids know they matter most.

Did I make them eat “weird” food? Of course (if you call whole wheat flour “weird”)! How better to learn the palates of the world than to try something with various ingredients, right from home? Did I make them try alternate flours? Did I use coconut milk? Did I use egg substitutes and Adams peanut butter? Of course! My reward? All of them love to try new foods (and all later thanked me). My other reward? Currently, among the five people I call my children, there is lactose intolerance, severe food allergies, gluten intolerance AND Celiac disease; I have no choice. It’s second nature to each of them for me to use almond flour, or egg substitute, or coconut milk in my cooking. They don’t blink an eye when they know something I’ve made uses non-traditional ingredients.

What will your legacy be?

We’re gathering soon for a birthday celebration, and I’ll be cooking the meal. The requested dessert was Short Cake with fresh berries. How could my son have known that his great, great grandma Lucy had the best recipe ever? Did he know about the butter layer in the middle? I wrote about Lucy’s delicious dessert a while ago; you can see the recipe and ingredients here.

What will your great-grandchildren be told about you?

I never met Lucy, nor did my children, but all of us visited the house where she raised her children. We stood in her kitchen. I have something that belonged to her.

Lucys cookbook from 1933_Lucy Fox Beachler_Dorothys mother_a

Kitchen Guide, 1933

This was Lucy’s cookbook, one she passed on to her daughter, Dorothy, my children’s grandma. The binding is there but hardly functional.

IMG_20170704_074747673The pages are very fragile. They feel thin and dry; they crumble to the touch.

IMG_20170704_074644097The pages are so old and dry, in fact, simple touching and turning breaks off tiny pieces. And, this seemed rather symbolic. I cannot handle or look through this book without leaving tiny pieces behind.

IMG_20170704_075125604And, that’s when it hit me that my legacy does not need to be extravagant. It need not be expensive items, heirlooms, or hefty bank accounts. Maybe the best legacy is the way in which someone is remembered, the way in which someone lived their life. It could be in the way someone prepared for each day, the design of the food on the table. Maybe it’s simple preparation, thinking of others.

Creating a legacy does not have to be a burden,

The short cake recipe calls for many taboo ingredients. While I’ve made this more than once as written, my cupboards hold a variety of choices.

IMG_20170704_074537726I have in stock gluten-free, oat, brown rice, coconut, and tapioca flours.

it can be your joy and can create

I keep on hand coconut milk in both the carton and the can. I recently started making oat milk and oat cream from that oat milk. Ever tried ice cream made with both full fat coconut milk and home made oat cream? It’s a work in progress. And, speaking of ice cream, do you know that a fabulous sugar free fudge sauce can be made using unsweetened chocolate, cream, butter, sour cream, and sugar substitute? Stay tuned….

your satisfaction with living each day.

I have coconut sugar, Truvia, Stevia, Splenda, plain old sucrose, and honey and molasses. I keep egg replacer in the cupboard and fresh eggs in the fridge. If neither works, I keep a chart nearby of other replacements for eggs. Bananas can be used depending on the recipe. I was once told by one of my children that they love to eat at my house because I store all the non-traditional ingredients. That’s not a compliment I’ll ever forget.

What kind of world do you want to leave your great-grandchildren?

I keep Smart Balance in the freezer for when I want to bake something calling for butter. Is it the same? No. Does the final product lack in taste? Sometimes one can tell, but it’s not so different as to be unacceptable. Do I make a practice of using plastic butter? No. Do we all prefer the original ingredients? Sometimes, but are we willing to forego the “regular” stuff so that one person can enjoy the meal? Better yet: am I willing, as the cook, to make an original AND a second one for the people who cannot tolerate the regular ingredients? Of course! I love to bake (meaning, they will always want to visit, and they will know I’ll be well-prepared).

What can you do today to help create that world?

~ Jonathan Lockwood Huie

My children don’t need me the way they used to; they are what the world calls millenials. They are grown and quite capable of making their own mistakes decisions. I cannot solve all of their problems, I cannot fix the troubles they meet. I can, however, give them the fuel to function at their optimal best. When they share my table, I can provide nourishment I know works for their bodies, eliminate those that don’t.

It goes back to their first dinner table when they saw “brown” noodles for the first time. I wanted them to consider other options. It goes back to those oat pancakes that to this day, they say, made them gag. I wanted them to be open to new ideas. All three swear we force fed them garden beets. I don’t remember it exactly that way, but…

IMG_20170704_074754892Life is about more than ourselves.

These are the pieces I’m leaving behind.


P.S. I was a couch hog.

  12 comments for “The pieces left behind

  1. July 10, 2017 at 1:15 pm

    I was not blessed with children, but when I married my second husband, his gift to me was his grown children and, eventually, seven wonderful grandchildren. I never had to do the hard work of helping my children become well rounded, capable, productive adults with manners, adventurous eating habits, and so many qualities that help ease passage through life. Perhaps that is why I so admire those of you who have managed to do so and why this post fascinated me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • March 22, 2018 at 1:00 pm

      Janet, My sincerest apologies for the late reply, but I just yesterday discovered that your post above, among many others, went to my trash file without my permission. Regardless, I am going back to respond to all the kind folks who wrote. That said, I so appreciate your words in this message. It is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done, being a parent, but I have no regrets. None. You hit on something, though, that I think should not go unnoticed. You said you never did the “hard work.” I can’t think of a harder job than being a step parent, and between you and me, I am very glad I never had to. But also, yes, I did do the “hard work” when mine were young, which, I believe, if done properly, results in well rounded, well mannered, responsible adults. I think if the work is done early, if we let kids know there are rules and boundaries, much of what we see today would not happen. That, though, is another post or two. Thank you for stopping by and for your kind words.


  2. July 5, 2017 at 11:57 am

    What an excellent essay on parenting! We all just make the best decisions we know how, but it’s nice once our kids are grown up to realize that most of those decisions were actually good ones. And it sounds as if all of your kids prove that !

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 14, 2017 at 11:36 am

      Thanks, Ann. Yeah, we can look at our children now as they make decisions and often feel pride when those they make are good ones. I like to think so anyway. 🙂 Enjoy the weekend! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. July 4, 2017 at 7:29 pm

    You’ve been waxing nostalgic here today. I’ve often asked myself those same questions. I have fewer answers to worry about as there are no grandchildren, etc. My kids are the end of the line. I liked what you found in your answers. I was the strict, but not mean, mom. When I said something, I meant it and followed through. They found security in that. It teaches them you can be trusted with your word. Mine turned out like yours. Good solid people that keep their word. How will I be remembered? They have let me know already by who they are and what they tell others about me. I bet your children rave about you as well. I bet you inspire them to give a little bit more of themselves and to be thoughtful in their actions. I would bet on that. You will probably be leaving an amazing legacy and it has nothing to do with food. 🙂 Have a wonderful 4th.

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 5, 2017 at 6:56 am

      Exactly, Marlene. I think some parents don’t set boundaries, or discipline, they way they should nowadays; the stories my daughter comes home with (works in a grade school) knock my socks off, over and over. The trail leads to no boundaries at home: nutritionally poor meals, no regular sleep schedule, far too much sugar in the snacks that come to school, etc. These kids are starving, literally, for not only food but attention and basics. When it was my turn, mine were my priority and it shows now (straight from how I was raised, thank you mom and dad). 🙂 I like what you said: “They have let me know already by who they are.” Bingo. Thanks for stopping by. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Amy
    July 4, 2017 at 2:31 pm

    Great post, Karen! My kids thought/think I was mean also, and they hated my rules for TV. And although my cooking was not creative, they both learned to love good food somehow but prefer eating out to cooking, as do I. Oh well—I hope something other than food is my legacy! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • July 5, 2017 at 6:46 am

      Thanks, Amy. It’s really hard to know in the moment–in the throws of discipline–what will come of our methods, how they will be perceived (and remembered). I just remember persisting because I wanted them to know other ways, and later, that they thanked me, was a turning point. 🙂 You have your wonderful writing legacy to leave yours. Have a great week!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Amy
        July 5, 2017 at 2:55 pm

        You do also! Thanks, Karen.

        Liked by 1 person

        • September 14, 2017 at 2:33 pm

          Hi, Amy. Could you tell me again which site you use to mark your photos? I looked but cannot find that thread. Thank you! 🙂

          Liked by 1 person

          • Amy
            September 15, 2017 at 5:24 am


            Liked by 1 person

            • September 16, 2017 at 10:23 am

              Thank you!! I’ve figured out how to use it and will be trying it soon. I’m thinking it will be pretty useful on Ancestry, also. Have a great weekend, Amy. 🙂


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