Over the course of the past year, I took it upon myself to take on the role of the family historian. I must admit this journey has been nothing short of fascinating and rewarding. For me, it has involved researching and documenting my family’s history, tracing my lineage, and learning about my ancestors’ lives and experiences. I have also learned – and at times been challenged – how to process the emotions that come with the memories.  Most importantly, this new venture has given me the opportunity to allow myself to have a more curious mind, an interest in storytelling, and a passion for preserving my family’s unique history.

Recipes on a Table

Then came the discovery of the handwritten recipes – writings I immediately recognized as my mother’s and grandmother’s.  Having my own granddaughter now, the cherished recipes made me realize it’s not only enjoyable to have a recipe that brings back the memories of yesteryear, but by sharing grandma’s recipe with my own granddaughter, we can create new memories and a deeper sense of connection that we will both cherish and appreciate for years to come. 

Today I am excited to share with you a new column “Tastes of Tradition” that will share some favorite childhood memories and recipes from the table of my family – to yours.

If you are lucky enough to have parents or elders in your family, please take the time to sit and listen to their stories.   These recipes are beautiful reminders of traditions, familiar smells, and memories I will forever cherish.  May they also be for you.  And if you have a recipe, please let us know and we can feature your memories along with mine. 

The Story of Drunken Chicken as told by Sandy Williams

As a young girl, I have fond memories of visiting my aunt and uncle in Wisconsin.  With the bedrooms full of adults, all of us kids were excited as the backyard tent was prepared for the nightly sleepovers.  Now, you must know, my Uncle Dick was known for his stories.  As a young girl, I can recall vividly the apprehension and nervous excitement when we would settle in our tents and then hear the gentle walk of the man who would enter our tent to share ghost stories that year after year would chill us to the bone.  After he returned to the house, we were quiet and as the chorus of tree frogs would only be drowned out by the magical and often spooky owl, in classic form we waited… Yes, no matter how many years went by or how many times he tempt fate that we were perhaps too old to fall for his shenanigans, you could still hear our terrifying screams as Uncle Dick would flail his hands on and deliver his traditional terrifying growl outside our sleeping quarters year after year.  And every year…yes, we still loved it. 

  

Now, Aunt Kris was more of a creative soul.  She was known best for always having   “fun” names for the foods she would prepare.  (Tuna fish salad was always “Brain Food” and a ground beef goulash was gently referred to as stuff’)

Now that I have begun to discover family recipes, I can’t help but think of the summers in Wisconsin.  And to be honest, it makes me think twice about a dish we lovingly once referred to as Drunken Chicken.

Drunken Chicken by Kris

6-8 Deboned and skinned chicken breasts

Salt and pepper to taste

1C flour

2 Tablespoons Olive Oil

2 Tablespoons Butter

1 Large Onion – chopped
2 Tablespoons fresh parsley – chopped

1 16oz canned tomatoes

1/2 tsp. cinnamon

1/4 tsp cloves

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 cup vermouth

1/2 Cups generous golden raisins

1/2 Cup slivered almonds

Directions

Dredge chicken in flour and fry in olive oil until brown on both sides.  Remove chicken from pan and sit aside. In a cast iron skillet (as used in the picture) cook onions in the same pan.  Add tomatoes (with liquid), spices, brown sugar, vermouth, raisins.  Simmer for 15-20 minutes.  Place over chicken back in the cast iron skillet (you can also use a casserole dish, if desired) and make sure the chicken is covered in the liquid.  Sprinkle with almonds.  Bake at 374 for 30 minutes.

Serve with rice or potatoes.