Florida food blogger Jackie Garvin shares a favorite family dinner with a special story.
Between October 2008 and March 2009, I experienced several life-changing events. Some were triumphant, some were devastating. Major life events are stressful, but when they stack up on you, it’s overwhelming.
The first event was the devastating loss of our beloved Basset Hound, Sadie. Two months later, we closed on the sale of our business that I managed. That same month, we learned our daughter was pregnant with twins, our first grandchildren. In early March, my mother passed away after many years of declining health. The end of March, I completed the consulting contract I had with the company that acquired my business.
I found myself free from the stress and demands of corporate life and entrepreneurship, gleefully anticipating the birth of grandchildren, and desperately missing my mother and faithful canine companion. My life was a dichotomy. I allowed myself to grieve the losses amidst the orchestration of the new chapter in my life.
How will I spend my time? I wish I could talk to my mother. I have no demands on my time. Oh, how I miss Sadie at my feet. I can’t wait to hold those babies and start my new role as Nana. If only Mama could hold on just long enough to see her great-grandchildren.
Mama died in March. The babies were born in July. She never got to see them. The circle of life. I had so much to process. The highs were exhilarating, the lows gut-wrenching.
July couldn’t get here fast enough. I had no obligations that would prevent me from focusing my attention on the babies and my daughter. But July was a few months away and I needed to stay busy with something purposeful and meaningful.
I found out my college student niece, Holly, was interested in learning to cook. When I’m in my kitchen cooking, especially when I’m teaching cooking, all is well. This seemed like exactly the sort of activity I needed at this point in time. I couldn’t let this opportunity pass by. So, I invited Holly to come visit me as soon as her semester ended. She stayed a couple of weeks and we covered all aspects of food management: meal planning, grocery shopping, food prep, and cooking. She was immersed into Aunt Jackie’s world, and I, in turn, was immersed into Holly’s world.
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For her final "exam", she executed a meal from planning to table decorations. She did an outstanding job on the whole she-bang. Neither Holly, nor I, can remember the final menu from 2009. She’s now married with two wee ones and spends her time in the real live world of a stay-at-home mom who plans and prepares family meals. She recently told me two of the recipes she made during that visit are on her regular meal rotation. One is Quick and Easy French Onion Burgers and the other is Beef and Bean Chili.
Alrighty, Pilgrims. This is where the journey comes full circle. Holly came to visit me during the time I was grieving my mother. Out of all the recipes we made during her two week visit, she chose Quick and Easy French Onion Burgers as one of her favorites. This was one of my mother's favorites, too. She made it quite often and it was probably one of her favorite go to quick meals. It means the world to me that one of her meals inspired Holly so much that it's a regular on Holly's dinner rotation. The circle of life.
Jackie Garvin is an Alabama born and raised, award-winning author and cook. She is the author of the popular Southern food blog, "Syrup and Biscuits", and two Southern-inspired cookbooks: Biscuits and Sweet Potato Love. She currently lives in Florida with her husband and Basset Hound, both of whom are well fed.