Long before there were artichoke hearts offered in salads and on pizzas and in your favorite Italian pasta dishes, my sister shared her love of this vegetable with us. While visiting from California she prepared a dinner for us. You can imagine the look on our faces when she poured these out on the counter and said “we’re having these artichokes for dinner”. We didn’t want to dampen her enthusiasm but we wondered how on earth we were going to eat these strange things. It hurt your hand when you tried to pick it up. Now this vegetable looks like a sweet green flower after being boiled for 45 minutes but before that it looked something like a pine cone. It can be prickly to touch so that is why you cut about a half inch off each leaf, cut the bottom so it can stand flat and cut an inch or so off the top. After washing it you boil it for forty five minutes with a few cloves of garlic, a bay leaf or two and some salt and pepper.
Pull off each leaf and dip it in some melted butter with seasoned salt and a dash of cayenne if you please. Turn it upside down and pull between your front teeth. The little bit of artichoke with the melted butter is marvelous. You do this until all the big leaves are gone then rub off the tiny needle like substance left (the choke) to enjoy the best part of all, the artichoke heart. You can really enjoy the large pieces left dipped in your seasoned butter.
Leave it to my California Chef Sister to add a pear to this already deliciously good salad. So with this new idea I decided to look up information on pears. I found out that most pears come from Oregon and Washington and most varieties have a long season from August to May. So why don’t we use them more? Well when you pick them up in the produce area of grocery store they feel hard and if you were to push on them it would cause them to bruise and rot. What to do? Be patient! Buy them, bring them home and put them in a brown paper bag for a day or two then eat them like they are or use them in a variety of different recipes.
I love dishes and I think it runs in families!! My mother and sisters and daughter and daughter-in-law all love them!! I have special occasion dishes, birthday dishes, Christmas dishes and fall and winter ones. Some dishes come with flowers and others with stripes. Of course solid dishes of all colors. But the most dearing of all are the ones passed down from my mother and grandmothers. It would be easy to put them away in a safe place and not use them but what purpose would that accomplish? My mother always said no one was more important than her family, so I took her advice and I use them. When I do, I like to share a story or a recipe from the person who owned the dishes before me. Someday, I hope, my children and then their children will do the same.
I grew up in a household that loved hot tea. My maternal grandmother, Dessa Marie Tracy, enjoyed the English side of her heritage and served hot tea with sugar and cream in her prettiest tea cups every day around 3:00. Even my sister and I were allowed to drink from those cups. Coffee mugs or metal or plastic cups would never do. Grandma knew the tea would not taste the same. And you need the saucer to hold your spoon after stirring all that sugar we would add. My younger siblings continued to enjoy this treat after school with a slice of fresh homemade bread. She must have prepared early in her day to have that bread ready to come out of the oven at just the same time the school bus arrived at our door.
These are English tea cakes that are perfectly paired with a cup of hot tea.
Grandma Dessa’s favorite Bible verse: