Tonight I bring to you my very first guest blogger.

This is Leslie.

She is the youngest of the cousins on my grandmother’s side of the family.  She is 11 years my junior, and lives in Kentucky these days. She too is a blogger (check her blog out here). Leslie and I have managed to stay in touch thanks to the miracle that is Facebook, but have not actually seen each other due to geographical differences in nearly 6 years. Leslie, like me, has a passion for preserving family memories, so I asked her a few months ago if she would mind helping me out after the newest addition to our family arrived. (more on that topic in the future)

I think you will like what she has to say. Enjoy!

I have many fond memories of being in my grandparents’ home. For the first seven years of my life, I practically grew up in my grandparents’ back yard because my parents built our house on the property adjacent to my grandparents’ fruit and vegetable farm. I loved being so near them; I even learned how to ride my first bike in their back yard.
I was very fortunate to be able to spend my summer days on my grandparents’ farm with my brother while my parents were at work for several years. There’s nothing quite like picking fresh vegetables in the morning dew, eating a bowl of cherries while watching Gilligan’s Island, and waiting on customers of my grandparents’ roadside market. My granddad taught us tricks of the trade in the garden, and my grandmother taught me a little about how to get along in the kitchen.
Some of my fondest memories of my grandparents’ home are the family dinners after Sunday church. If all the nearby family came, we could end up with a house full of 25 or more people, and everybody always brought their favorite dishes to share. I can remember all sorts of delicious casseroles (made with those garden-fresh vegetables, of course), homemade angel food cake, and the only cranberry relish I’ve ever liked. All the women spent a lot of time in the kitchen, and I wish I would have paid more attention to them when I had the chance.
It is this inability to maintain the essence of cooking that my family has become known for that brings me to the point of this post. Having good food prepared by the people I love, and being surrounded by those same people, has been one of God’s greatest gifts to me. And so it was, that when I moved to Louisville, KY some 500 miles away from the closest family member at those dinners, I began to experience withdrawal. I missed my family, and I missed those dinners. And when I turned 25 last April, I committed to intentionally doing 25 new things that I’ve never done before. One of those things this year is incorporating my family’s heritage of cooking into my own life. Trust me, it’s been difficult. With no family nearby to come over and show me why that ridiculous pie dough doesn’t turn into a beautiful crust, I’m using a lot of recipes and making a lot of phone calls and making a lot of burnt-dinner, fire-alarm, wasted-food mistakes. But trust me also when I say it’s been fun. I’m braving up to experiment a little more and even entered some items at the fair this year.
I may not be geographically near my family, but perhaps the most exciting thing about this experience is what it has inspired me to do with my family – a project that can be done long-distance that will build our relationships and also benefit others like me who want to keep the family’s cooking heritage going on. I’m going to compile and print a FAMILY COOKBOOK. As far as I know, it hasn’t been done yet, and I think it is high time the women of our family come together and collect all our families’ recipes to share with each other. We will undoubtedly also include stories and pictures – memories that are worth more than the recipes. At last I will have a guide on how to cook like the renowned women in my family and, what’s more, I will have a way to keep the spirit of those family dinners continuing in my own family.