Places to Party

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Family Pictures...


The Family You Know and The Family You Don't

I can see why my grandmother fell for
my grandfather. What a dashing guy.
The mustashe is very Errol Flynn
I found myself sobbing uncontrollably a bit today. You see, I had asked my mother for pictures of my paternal grandfather as the books I had inherited from my grandmother was strangely devoid of his picture anywhere. Mom had sent them and I opened them up. There was a man that was in one way familiar and yet in another someone totally foreign to me.


How very young he looks.
Familiar but a stranger to me.

I had asked my mother for these pictures for my Hallmark family tree that I have in my dining room. Family is very important to me and I wanted to put this together not just for myself, but so my son had a visible history of where he came from. At first he wasn’t interested at all, assuming it was just another decoration, but every now and then he’ll ask who someone is on the tree. The left side is my husband’s family and the right is mine.


Looking at my grandfather’s pictures, I was touched at how young and full of hope he was. How he held my grandmother, the pictures of them on bikes with their baby (my father) in the bike’s basket, their wedding pictures and their family pictures. By the time I came around, while still married, they seemed to live very independent lives.  My grandmother was the one who would take us up north to the cabin, many times without my grandfather. My grandmother would do things with her sister, come out to see us at our house and baby sit my brother and myself all devoid of my grandfather. He had his charity work, working with a local radio station, driving the float in the local parades or working at Crossroads Village in Geneseeville ( We did do things together and they did too, but they certainly had very independent lives as well.


Grandma had ripped all these pictures up in the album I received. Twenty years after his death, she had found out some upsetting news that drove her to do this. I understand. I’m not that unsure I wouldn’t have done the same. Still, it left a void to page through all these pictures only to have none of the man who was still so much a part of my childhood.
Biking with baby.


When a family member seems to just disappear from the scene, it leaves a hole. The actions of one generation leave a scar on the next. People don’t talk about situations. Certain topics aren’t brought up or certain people. Life goes on but for future generations there is a big question mark. People have a right to know where they came from good or bad. They have a need to know why things were the way they were, why people behaved the way they did. As children, we may simply accept the way things were, but as wiser adults we wonder what made people behave the way they did.


Great Grandma S with one of my aunts.
I recently joined for that very reason. I’m not looking for some long lost royal ancestor or some famous person in history I’m related to. Rather, I’m searching for my material great grandfather. He married my great grandmother and left her before their child was born. She raised my grandfather as a single mother in the 1920’s. I’m sure she probably never thought of herself as a strong woman but I certainly do. It couldn’t have been easy, especially in an environment that insisted everyone be married and the woman was supposed to be at home raising the children while her husband worked. She raised him on her clerk’s salary.


Grandpa S, their son.
He never met his son the soldier.

Great grandma S always struck me as a kind woman. She clearly loved her grandchildren but things were always very secretive when it came to her husband. Everyone has one part of the puzzle but no one has it all. My aunt said that grandma S once told her that her husband’s name was John. Research shows it was Frederick John S. Great Grandma S also told my aunt that he moved down to Ohio and raised a second family. I’ve found no divorce records. Even when great grandma S was dying, my mother said, “I love you grandma” and great grandma S said, “I know”. Why couldn’t she say, “I love you, too?” Was it the way she was raised? Was it because of the way her husband had treated her? These are the unanswered questions. They trickle down to future generations who wonder the great questions as “Why?”



Ultimately, I think I found myself sobbing over my grandfather’s pictures because I realized that no matter what family drama had gone on in the past, I truly missed him. I missed his laugh and I missed his presence. And I will find out about great grandpa S, his story and his lack of presence. Why did he leave? What kind of person was he? Was my great grandmother better for not having him in her life or did she miss him? Did he ever wonder about his child or was my grandfather simply and inconvenience? Some of these questions will never be known but as a descendant, I carry this blood in my veins and have a right to know. Holes are horrible things.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Did You Grow Up in a Barn or Something?

Did You Grow Up in a Barn or Something?

Well, as a matter of fact I did...several barns actually.

Great cathedrals of our rural heritage.

When you grow up as a farm kid, life is a series of barns, granaries, large equipment yards, fields and animals. You learn to drive a tractor at about eight while helping your family bale hay. You help to get the cows into the truck to go up to the market. You get to wake up and chase the cows that broke down the fence in your nightgown with the neighbors.

There isn't a lot of modesty in the country. No one has time for it.

The barns of my childhood were magical places. They were places of weird equipment, animals and haylofts just perfect for climbing. Although hot, once you made your way up to the very top of the barn, you knew you were in a place where only a select few had been before. You got to look out that window in the top of the barn that everyone looks at when they glance at the structure but few ever get to look out of. There were houses to be made with bale furniture, games of hid and seek and all sorts of adventures to be had.

All shapes and sizes. Magical places.

When I was growing up, there were several relatives that farmed, some that to this day I don't know how they were related to me, and tons of neighbors with barns. We even had some names for the barns. One barn that I remember fondly, we called the "Thirsty Barn". I believe my father dubbed it that due to the fact that he stored some of his hay in this barn after haying.

Our barn had no such name, nor was it very picturesque. A corrugated small steel building with two green corrugated plastic panels for lights, it was simply a working barn. That barn held lots of great memories. Running down to the barn in bare feet, dogs and cats in tow. Climbing the fence and giving the horses a treat of sugar or treat out of the box of horse treats.  It housed several generations of cows and my mother's horses which varied in number between one and five throughout the years. There were lots of kittens born on the farm and the crazy chickens. There was a donkey named Tequila and a pony named Coco-who incidently just walked into our yard one day. That's how I got my pony.

Barns hold great memories for so many of us that grew up working and playing in them. But with fewer and fewer people actually farming for a living, because it's so hard making a living at farming nowadays, so many of these great structures are falling to the ground. The families that own these barns can't afford to keep them up nor can they afford to demolish them. So, they die a long slow death. It's so incredibly sad because not only are we loosing these great structures, but the barns represent a way of life that is also going away as well as a collective history that is so quickly being lost. Our founding farmers were farmers. Many of the indigenous people were farmers. If you look back in your family history, more than likely only a few generations back, you'll discover someone listed in the census as "farmer". Farming, while tough, also made families self-sufficient and brought them together in the common goal of keeping the family alive. It brought children up with a moral background, a strong work ethic and a well developed love of the land. With each barn that  drops, we loose so much. Just a quick drive or walk around the block of my home there exists four barns, one in which the entire barn as fallen to the ground, two in which the roof's have caved in and only one really still standing. It's sad. How many generations worked in those barns? How many kids climbed in those lofts? How many families were fed due to the hard work of those farmers?

And who will remember them? Or nowadays... care?

There is a bumper sticker I've seen several times in our rural community... one that bears remembering....

Support your local farmer.



No Farmers. No Food.

America, the land of plenty.
Support local agriculture to keep it that way.

Keep that in mind when your buying your grapes from Chile and your meat from God knows where. We have to support our local agriculture. This is the background and the foundation of our country.

 Not to become preachy but...

If you aren't supporting your local farmers, who are you supporting? 

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chicken Stuffed with Lasagne.. It's what's for dinner!

It's What for Dinner!

Amen to that huh?
Image from Google Images

How many times have you stood in front of your fridge and looked at all the odds and ends and thought, "Huh, what can I make with this?". We'll, that is where I found myself the other day. I had made a big ham and had lots left over. And I had gotten a great deal on asparagus and had to use that up soon. We had already had the ham once, so I wanted to get away from another basic "ham" receipe. So what to do?

I make a weekly menu each week and had picked up some lovely herbed goat cheese at Aldi's this week. Looking around the kitchen, I had some tomatoes, tomato paste and a whole shaker  bottle of Montreal chicken seasoning. This is what I came up with. My son calls in "Chicken Lasagne" we're calling it Chicken stuffed with lasagna so folks don't think it's Chicken meat in lasagna. There is no noodles in it so I'm using a bit of creative license.


I know, I lost some of you with the brussel sprouts.
Frozen chicken breasts
6oz goat cheese
tomato paste
Montreal chicken seasoning

Mince your ham and asparagus to fine consistency and put in a bowl.  Cut up your tomatoes and remove the inside 'meat' (discard or use for soup) and chop well. Mix in the remainder of the ingredients together omitting the tomato paste.

Cut a small pocket, not all the way through though.
Using a sharp knife, slit a pocket in the side of each chicken breast and smear a swash of tomato paste along the inside. What I was kind of going for here was the "herby turkey" smear from Breugger's Bagels. The herbed goat cheese had the herbs already in it so the paste didn't need dressing up. Now insert your filling, pressing in as much as you want making sure to fill the crevices. Put in a foil lined, greased pan. If you like, put some parmesan cheese and/or Montreal chicken seasoning on the top of each
chicken breast. Cover with foil and bake for 45 mins at 350 degrees Fahrenheit. After 45 mins, remove the foil and bake for another 15 mins.

Sunday, May 4, 2014


A quick stop at a small shop for macaroons.


I love this time of year. The days start getting warmer, the birds start singing and the farm markets start opening up. My little local farm market in the village opens tomorrow and will be open until November. I get so excited each year for this event. The farm market allows us to stretch our food dollar to the furthest extent all the while allowing us to support our local farmers, which being the daughter of farmers, makes me feel very satisfied. It's nice to put a face to the people who are providing the fruits and vegetables that grace our table and I love knowing that I have a viable alternative to the supermarket, at least part of the year.


Entry to the Rochester Public Market.
But some farm markets are open year around. The Rochester Public Market is one of those. While the main point of going to the market is to get food, the market itself has almost a carnival atmosphere. There are vendors selling their wares and  small cafes to buy sandwiches and drinks, sit down and enjoy the throngs of people. There are samples to be had and artwork to be seen. There is always something new to try and familiar vendors that you look for each time you go.

Some of the beautiful public artwork
on display going into the market.


If you like cheese, the cheese shop is phenomenal.
There are cheeses from around the world!
Farm markets are a big part of Jenny's Homefront Strategy. What I can't grow, I can pick up for a good price at the farm market stand and bring home and process. Often I'll pre-order something I want to can or freeze so that when those items become costly during the winter, I have an ample supply on my shelf canned or put away in the deep freeze for a quick lunch side (frozen berries are wonderful in the winter for a fruit in your lunch!) or to be added to the breakfast cereal. Before you think it is just fruits and vegetables (which there are a lot of), the market also supplies gourmet cheeses, breads, pastas, olive oils, wines and nuts. You can go there with no idea what you are going to make for the week and walk out with all the ingredients you need to make a wonderful week of food and a very small price.


Cheese shops, bakeries, coffee shops in addition to produce make the market definite go to.

The market changes with the seasons and this weekend the first herb plants that I've seen were out. What I think is lovely is that, in addition to the typical herbs, they have the more "exotic" or "hard to get" herbs in my area like lemon verbena. In addition, they already had some of the garden vegetable plants, although, at 39 degrees at night, it's still a little early to put them out but after six months of nothing green in site, you just want to breathe in the first signs of spring.
All and all, if you've never have been to your town's public market I encourage you to do so. It is wonderful experience of smells, sights, and adventure. Simple, inexpensive ingredients can add up to a week (or more) of delightful meals for a fraction of the cost and you are supporting your local farm families. Go out and enjoy the adventure!



  Farm Market Tapas

If you've never had tapas, tapas are essentially little plates of appetizers served in Spain at little bars. You go by yourself or with friends and order a bunch of little appetizers, maybe have a little wine and wind down from your day before going home. With our trip to the market, I decided to create a little "farm market tapa" of my own with the items I picked up at the market (the ham however was from the weekend). This is loosely based on the tapa Serrano y Manchego (Ham and cheese) although that typically includes spanish olives (yum!). Here is what we bought at the market.
  • Figs
  • Asparagus (3lbs for $1!)
  • Manchego cheese
  • Pizzell cookies (vanilla, butter pecan and peanut butter)
  • Cinnamon-vanilla almonds