I had this really fun day in the kitchen with my mother-in-law Jan. Jan studied home education in college and is currently working on a historical generational cook book. Pretty cool right? She’s the kind of woman who knows all the short cuts to making dishes work. She is also the woman who has dozens of cook books but only cooks out of one. This beautiful book was given to her for her High School graduation and it is her favorite. All of her recipes either come from her mother, her grandmother or this cook book.
When visiting the Tietjen’s, Jan is usually very busy in the kitchen preparing all homemade dishes for the family to enjoy. I try to stay out so not to interrupt the perfect rhythm she has created in her space. I just flutter in after all the food is devoured and try to help with dishes. That’s who I am. The gal who peers over the counter trying to catch a glimpse of the greatness, hoping it rubs off on me, and go in afterwards to repair dish duty.
But on this day, I got invited in. I was asked to come into this magical place and learn a thing or two. One of the first things Jan asked me in the morning was, “Do you want to learn how to make homemade noodles?” Are you kidding me? (One thing you might know about me is how much I adore doing things from scratch. If it can be done in my own home, than I prefer to do it that way. Homemade is the best way in my opinion.) I had never attempted noodles, so I was on board.
The great thing about Jan is that when she is teaching you, she makes you do it all yourself and then gives you all the credit. She walked me step by step in what I needed. The thing I learned about noodles, they just really aren’t that hard to make.
Here's my first batch ever!
But after you gather your 3 egg yolks, you will have egg whites left over. So Jan tells me to freeze them till I have enough for angel food cake. (She had happened to have a container already full and needed just a few more.) So after mixing the noodle dough and rolling it out dry, she looks at the egg whites and says, “Want to make Angle food cake?” Sure, why not right?!
So on we went. The mixing and making of the Angel Food cake began. We flipped open the cook book and found the secret recipe. While the cake was baking we plotted and planned for making Kringla, a long standing Tietjen tradition. It is a light, cake figure 8 crescent roll of sorts. I have never attempted it and Jan thought it was time. While the Kringla was baking, we then embarked on making Cream Puffs. I'm sorry I don't have pictures of it all, we were just having way too much fun to stop.
Jan makes these amazing cream puffs for morning breakfasts on special occasions. I know right, dessert for breakfast. This is a great family to be apart of. Well, we were going to be seeing Paul for the weekend and it’s his favorite thing, Kringla and cream puffs. Cream puffs is the one tradition that Paul brings to our family. I on the other hand have brought dozens and dozens of things we need to do because we’ve always done it. So I used to complain about these cream puffs, but have recently realized it’s what connects Paul to his family and his history. His family of generations past. Then I had this wonderful moment of standing at the stove top next to his mother, both of us stirring, her the cream puff and I the cream. We were talking about nothing and everything, we were drinking wine, and that beautiful cook book was open in front of us. She would flip to her page and then I would flip to my page to discover the next step of the recipe.
I felt like an apprentice. I felt like I had a teacher. Chatting about the day, cooking together and learning how to make things work and cook a beautiful meal is what heritage living and learning is all about. It’s when history gets passed on to the newer generation so that it doesn’t get lost. Family living, traditions, love, history gets passed down. Most of the time we are too busy to invest in the heritage, but I got an incredible piece of it today. We started with homemade noodles, (which by the way we cooked in turkey stock which makes them taste amazing!), then made Angle food cake, then Kringla and Cream puffs. We also wanted to attempt Spritz cookies, but it was already 1230am.
It was an amazing day learning from a woman I have so much respect for and love spending time with. I learned so much and feel I am a better person for the day we spent together. I also now carry more of her family with me to pass along to my children. I have stories and recipes to share with them and continue pouring their heritage into them.
I love all things homemade.