PART ONE TOMATOES P. 13
PART TW0 KITCHEN STORIES P. 33
PART THREE PRESERVING MEMORIES P. 47
Welcome! This is the first issue of Buona Conserva. It is based on a quarterly event that correlates with food and community in Los Angeles. We bring people together to preserve culture and traditions. This journal begins where the event took off; preserving food. Yet it goes into a deeper concept, that of preserving culture. Preserving oral traditions, memories, and even artifacts. This journal works as an archive to preserve the things that we deeply care about. It touches upon the idea of â€˜sobremesaâ€™, which means to linger at the table after eating to talk, play cards, have an afternoon snack, or simply just spend time with family or friends.
Canning prep time 20 minutes, cook time 10 minutes
PREPARING JARS AND LIDS
FILLING THE JARS
First, ready the jars, lids and screw bands. Jars,
Working with one warm, dry jar at a time,
whether new or previously used, should be
place a funnel over the opening. Depend-
free of chips and scratches. New lids must be
ing on the recipe, use a ladle, slotted spoon
used for each batch, though screw bands, if in
or other utensil to fill the jars, leaving the
good condition, can be reused. Wash the jars,
amount of headspace called for in the recipe.
lids and bands well in hot soapy water, either
Keep the jars warm to prevent them from
by hand or in a dishwasher. Place the lids in a
breaking when coming into contact with hot
small saucepan with water to cover, bring to a
food. With a funnel, fill each jar individually
simmer (180째F/82째C) and maintain the simmer
leaving 1/2 inch headspace.
until you are ready to use them. Avoid boiling the lids, or you may compromise the seal.
full of hot water. Fill the jars with hot water and, using a rubber-coated jar lifter, lower the jars, one at a time, onto the rack in the water-filled pot, making sure they are covered by at least 1 inch of water. Bring the water to a boil over high heat and boil for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and leave the jars in the hot water. Remove them with the jar lifter and dry them.
PLACE FILLED JARS IN HOT WATER Place jars into a pot filled with enough water to leave at least 1 half an inch over the top of the jars. The jars have to be fully emerged in the water. Before placing the jars inside the water, cover them with newspaper or kitchen cloths in order to prevent breakage if they were to knock into each other. Leave jars inside boiling water for 30 minutes.
To sterilize them, fill the canner pot two-thirds
Tomatoes encyclopedia of organic gardening
The origin of the tomato is obscure. Its name came from the Mecian word “Tomatl,” but until a comparatively recent date the tomato was grown as the “Cancer Apple.” In olden times it was believed to be poisonous and disease-producing.
A fine source of the vitamins A, B, and C, the common tomato is easily grown in almost every back yard. Because of its food value and ease of culture, it ranks amongst the most important plants available to the home gardener.
Staring from seed: One ounce of seed can produce about 2,000 plants. If you buy a couple of generous packages of good quality seed, you should be able to produce about 300 plants. In February or March in a sunny, southern window, arrange some sort of window box. Any small, wooden box filled with fine, loose soil and having reasonable drainage will serve as a seed bed. Tomato seed germinates best at about 70Âşâ€”approximately house temperature. The seed planted deeper than a half inch. The young plants should appear in from eight to ten days and for the next two weeks they should be watered from the bottom. The surface of the soil in the seed bed should remain as dry and sunny as possible to reducce the danger of damping off, a condition fatal to seedlings and brought about by the growth of soil-born organisms flourishing because of excess moisture. To water from the bottom, place the box containing the seedlings in a pan containing shallow water and allow it to remain there until the soil has absorbed the moisture it requires. As soon as the seedlings form one or two true leaves in addition to their seed-leaves, they should be transplanted. The tray into wich they are transplanted should be capable of holding individual containers about three inches deep. These individual containers may be berry boxes, paper cups with the bottoms removed, paper boxes, small flower pots, cans with holes in the bottom, etc. Each plant should be moved to its own container 20
and the containers packed in the tray with soil to prevent too rapid drying out.
Soil: Although tomato plants will bear fruit in from 48 to 86 days after they are planted in the garden, they are essentially a warm weather plant. They require an open, sunny, well drained location. The soil should be porous, fairly light, and contain a fair amount of humus. If the soil in your garden is quite heavy, that is, containing a large percentage of clay, you wil find that you can improve its texture by the addition of peat moss or sand. But for plant food it is necessary to apply a generous quantity of humus from a well-made compost heap. The addition of composted material will also bring very sandy soil to a satisfactory condition. Avoid choosing a poorly-drawined spot. Any part of the garden where rain water tends to form a pond is a very poor place for tomatoes. Many diseases of tomatoes are associated with poor drainage, including bacterial wilt, stunting, and fruit rots.
The objective is to give each seedling about three inches space each way and to keep them growing rapidly. When the time comes for moving the young plants into the garden (about seven weeks from the time the seed was sown), this can be done in such a way as to cause the least possible disturbance to the roots and the soil surrounding them. The tray containing the young plants should be kept at a rather low temperature in a cold frame or unheated room in order that the seedlings may become stocky rather than spindly.
You will find also that air drainage is quite important. Tomatoes thrive in open locations where the free movement of the air is not hampered by the surroundings. Most leaf-blighting fungus diseases and fruit decay are prevalent in locations where poor air drainage exists. Staking: Perhaps the most desirable method of growing tomatoes for the home gardener is the pruned, stake method. More plants can occupy a given space by this method and the difficulties of cultivation are reduced. After all danger of frost is past, set the tomato plants deeply and abou ttwo feet apart each way. Drive a fivefoot long stake into the ground along side each plant. Tie the plant to the stake with soft yarn or small strips of old cotton clothing. It is best to make the tie tight around the stake and loop it loosely around the stem of the plant just beneath a leaf node. This prevents injury to the rapidly growing stem. If paper containers have been used, the plants can be set in the prepared place without removing the containers. The less shock the plant as to endure, the more quickly it will continue its rapid growth. However, you will find that the plants will overcome the shock of transplanting more quickly if supplied with a good starter solution. This is easily made. Mix two parts of water with one part of sifted compost. Allow the mixture to settle. Apply this solution to the hole in which theplant is to be set and again after the plant has been firmed and settled in place. Because of the necessity of hurrying the growth 22
of the young plants, they are set out as early as possible so that it is sometimes necessary to give them protection against the damage of the late frost. This is easily done by using inverted baskets or paper bags over the plants during unusually cold nights. Using the pruned, stake method, it is necessary to pink out the side shoots so as to produce two main shoots which are tied to the stake. If you follow this method, you will have larger tomatoes and will have no trouble keeping them off the ground.
Non-staking Method: Many gardeners grow tomatoes without staking or training. If you do this, your total crop will likely be about the same although the individual fruits will be smaller. It is best, if you decide to use this method, to set the plants about four feet apart each way. And before the many sprawling branches bend down to the ground,
Recent research at Ohio State University has indicated that both yield and quality of tomatoes are improved if more foliage is allowed to develop on the plant. Working with early maturing varieties, as Valient and Queens, the experimenters found that fruit cracking was reduced as much as 60 percent by this method of modified pruning. Extra foliage is obtained by allowing growth of axillary shoots or suckers. One suggested practice is to remove the suckers developing below the first fruit cluster. Then suckers developing later should be carefully tied to the stake.
spread a layer of clean straw, dried grass or similar material around each plant to keep the fruits from coming into direct contact with the ground. Cutworm damage can be prevented by placing a paper collar around the stem. This collar should extend about an inch above and below the level of the ground. Mulching with a layer of straw or similar material has been found effective controlling blossom end rot. Varieties: Generally speaking, it is best to use only wiltfree certified varieties. In this way you eliminate one of the chief enemies, tomato wilt. Early strains are usually more satisfactory for the gardener than the late kind. But if the summer is long in your locality you might use the late varieties to advantage. The late varieties can be grown from seed planted in a cold frame and then transplanted directly to the garden, instead of using the seedbed-container-garden routine. In some localities it is practicable to plant the seed directly into drills in the garden. The seedlings are then thinned until they stand the necessary distance apart. The advantages claimed by the adherents of this method are that the plants are much stronger because they root naturally in the place in which they are to grow, that the work of transplanting is avoided, that the plants undergo no shock and its following set-back caused by transplanting. The disadvantages of this method seem to be that the seedlings, being very tiny are difficult to weed and 24
cultivate and are a particularly easy prey to insects and disease and extremes of weather. This method is also quite wasteful of seed. Harvesting: During the summer the vines should provide a steady supply of fresh fruit for the family use. Later, when the crop reaches its peak, you will find it best to preserve much of it for future use. Tomatoes and tomato juice can be preserved in a number o ways. Whichever way you choose, you may be confident that the material will be a valuable addition to your family diet. After most of the tomatoes have been gathered, but before the first killing frost, you will find a large number of green and still growing tomatoes on the vines. This not inconsiderable crop should be gathered and stored. The smaller green tomatoes may be used for the making of relishes.
Saving Seed: Perhaps, as the vines grow and their fruits hang heavily on them, you will notice several plants which produce fruit that especially appeals to you â€“ some striking difference, better flavor, thicker flesh, finer color, larger vine â€“ some quality you admire. You wonder about the possibility of saving seed from these special plants for use next year. This is easily done. But before
The larger green tomatoes may be wrapped individually in newspaper and placed about three layers deep in open crates or boxes. These crates of wrapped tomatoes may be stored in any warm place and will ripen without the aid of light.
you begin you will find it best to consider the individual plant as a unit rather than the individual fruit. The seed of an occasional large fruit found upon a vine which produces only inferior fruit will, as a rule, produce plants bearing fruit equal only to the inferior fruit. But in the vines you select show vigorous growth, good leaf color, and heavy sets of uniform fruit, then the chances are that the seed will produce plants having these superior qualities. You will find it convenient to mark any plant selected for seed. Tomatoes are self-fertile and do not cross to any great extent, so you will not have to worry much about the distance of the selected plant from some inferior one. The tomatoes selected for seed should be allowed to remain on the vine beyond the edible stage, but not so long that decay has set in. If only a few seeds are to be collected it is a simple matter to halve the fruits, remove the seeds, then wash and dry them. For large quantities, the fruit is picked, placed in a wood or earthenware vessel and mashed. Water is and stirred vigorously. The resulting pulp should be held at about 70Âş and allowed to ferment for three or four days, being stirred now and then. This fermentation will cause the good, heavy seed to settle to the bottom where it will remain while the pulp, inferior seed, and water, are poured off. This fermentation is also Natureâ€™s method of eliminating many seed-born bacterial diseases. The heavy seed should then be washed in clean water and 26
spread out thinly on paper. It should be kept out of direct sunlight but in a place where it will dry rapidly. When dry, the seed should be stored in envelopes or paper bags in a cool, dry place. — Roger Smith
Such cold treatment has been shown conclusively year after year to precondition the blossoming closer to the ground level on sturdier plants that have stronger side shoots and which are hardier against the hazards of transplanting and early growth than those transplants which have been grown indoors continuously as usual at higher temperatures. —Gordon Morrison To encourage early bearing, some gardeners prepare their soil deeply, adding much compost, and plant sturdy food-long tomato seedlings from which they have taken off every leaf and branch except on the top. The plant is set with ony three inches of the growth above ground. It is then mulched. Under this method tomatoes have ripened by the first week in July.
Early tomatoes: To grow early tomatoes some gardeners give the young plant the cold treatment recommended by Michigan State University researchers. The cold treatment consists in growing the plants for three weeks at night temperatures of about 50º F. to 55º F., beginning after the seed leaves have unfolded. This can be done before seedlings are picked off, during this operation and afterward.
Growing Tomatoes STEP 1 Plant the seed
STEP 4 Transplant
Fill a small pot with soil Use a pencil to poke a hole halfway down the soil. Drop two seeds in the hole. Fill the hole with soil.
Soon the seedling will be a few inches high. Itâ€™s time to plant the seedling outside. Dig a deep hole and out the seedling inside.
STEP 2 Water the seeds
STEP 5 Water the seedling
Water the seeds, but not too much. Just enough so that the soil is moist.
Put water in the hole. Fill the hole with soil and pat it down.
STEP 3 See the seedling
STEP 6 Stake the plant
Each day, make sure that the soil is a little wet. In about a week, youâ€™ll see a seedling poke out of the soil. Move the pot to a warm sunny place.
As your tomato plant grows, tie the plant to a stake. Flowers will bloom on the plant before the tomatoes grow. Pick the tomatoes! When the tomatoes begin turning red you can pick them from the stems.
the simple way
when seasons played a role in the kitchen
Gr an M d y Ca m o Ki nn th tc in er he g ’s n
Many times when I am working in my canning kitchen I think back on my grandmother’s canning kitchen. It was called the “summer kitchen”. This room was on the back of her house, I have no idea what it was before it was turned into a kitchen or if grandpa had built it on to the house, but this room seemed to be made especially for what it was used for. It was a bright and airy room with plenty of windows, for these were the days before central air conditioning. This room was used in the summer so that the house would stay cool while grandma was cooking and preserving all the wonderful things coming out of the garden. The Summer Kitchen seemed to have endless work space with counters and tables worn smooth from years of cutting, slicing and chopping. The ever present coffee pot was always on the back of the stove, no one ever came to grandma’s back door without being offered a cup of coffee and a bite of whatever was cooking at that time. I also remember a bottomless cookie jar that held baked goodies for the children and any adult that came through. There was a door that led downstairs to the cool dark recesses of the cellar under the house. This is where the bounty of the summer was kept and I was always captivated by what could be found down there, row upon row of canned goods, potatoes and other “root” crops. The dried fruits and vegetables were kept up in the attic. It seemed like the summer kitchen had “seasons”, every thing that went on in that kitchen was dictated by what was “in season”, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, tomatoes, corn and green beans. This room was made for work but grandma and the aunts would always find some fun to have, neighbors would stop by and help or just sit and talk, there always seemed to be children passing in and out just to see what was “on the stove”. When I moved into my house some forty years ago I felt like a canning kitchen was a little old fashioned so I used my regular kitchen to do the things that needed to be done in the summer. My house had a large laundry room with a sink in it, 34
I found myself using this room as an extension of my kitchen until I realized that I needed to rethink the canning kitchen. After all, I had a large laundry room with space that wasn’t used very much, only when I was doing laundry. I guess you can say that my canning kitchen evolved. First I moved the washer and dryer to a more convenient place in the house and replaced the sink and added a counter with plenty of work space and placed a table in the middle of the room. I used the room like this for a while because it provided a great place to wash and prepare produce before transferring them to the “real” kitchen. I then added a used stove. Through the years my canning kitchen has evolved into a very pleasant work room with a dishwasher and two freezers, a chest type and an upright. I by no means spent a lot of money “redoing” this room. I bought used appliances (all but the freezers) and did it over a period of years, not all at once.
Now I have a room that I can truly say is one of my favorites, one that I feel my grandmother would be comfortable walking into and getting down to business.
memories of cooking rice with my mother
Nora Okja Keller
S of po Pe on rfe fu l ct
BUONA CONSERVA Nora Okja Keller
For her mother, a bowl of fragrant, steaming rice, meticulously prepared every day, was a ritual, a religion, a reminder of where she’d come from, an expression of love for her family. Nora Okja Keller discovers the importance of going with the grain—and the technique of getting it right every time.
“When I was little, many times we went to bed hungry. You can’t even imagine what some people would do for a handful of rice.”
When I got married a decade ago, my mother presented me with a rice cooker. Squat and beige, it wasn’t the prettiest appliance, but it had a button that kept the cooked rice warm. My mother sighed with satisfaction.
“Every grain is important,” she said, holding the rice to my face. “Every grain meant that someone could eat and live that day.”
My mother took her rice seriously. Whether it was short-grain or medium, California or Japanese, mochi or brown, while we were growing up she made sure we had it every day. “If I don’t have my bowl of rice,” she said once, “I still feel hungry no matter what else I eat.” I, on the other hand, was a child who was careless with rice. Blasting the raw grains under the kitchen faucet, then heedlessly dumping the cloudy water, I lost handfuls of our meal down the drain. “Rinse more carefully!” she would scold when it was my turn to wash rice. “You’re wasting too much!” “Why the fuss?” I grumbled. “It’s just rice.” To me rice was cheap and plentiful; for only a few dollars we could buy a bag the size of my little sister. “You kids don’t know how lucky you are, rice every day,” my mother grumbled, ready to launch into one of her wartime-in-Korea stories.
She dipped her hand back into the rice pot and scrubbed at the pellets under the water. Massaging the rice until the water looked like skim milk, she continued: “Take your time. Take care of the rice,” she said, carefully pouring out the cloudy water, her fingers cradling the lip of the pot to hold back any floating grain. “It’s like taking care of yourself.” After washing the rice three times, then rinsing three times, my mother filled the pot for the seventh time—the number of heaven—to boil the rice. She measured the water with her middle finger, the knuckles her ruler, and each time her rice came out perfect: sticky but not mushy, chewy but not crunchy. Whenever my family visits my mother’s home, we are greeted at the doorway by the scent of rice. “Are you hungry?” my mother will ask, bustling to the door. Before she hugs us, before she says how much she has missed her grandchildren, she’ll offer food, telling us to sit and eat a bowl of rice.
“Now your family will always have something ready to eat,” she said.
My mother nudged me aside and grabbed a fistful of wet rice.
â€œI remember once my mom made the most perfect rice.â€?
“I want to help, Halmoni,” she demanded. She climbed onto the seat and kneeled over the basin to plunge her hands into the cold water. “Like this,” my mother cooed, placing her hand over my daughter’s, guiding her fingers as they wiggled into the submerged rice. My 12-year-old nephew, watching from the dining table, said, “I remember once my mom made the most perfect rice.”
Nora Okja Keller
The last time we had a family get-together at my brother’s house, my mother, as usual, made the rice. While she was turning on the water to wash it, my youngest daughter dragged a stool up to the sink.
“Well, when you lifted the lid on the cooker, the steam escaped in this puff of cloud, and under the steam, the rice was like this. Like a rainbow.” He held his hands in the air, palms down, in the shape of an upturned cup. “And every piece was white and perfect, not goopy or bullety.” I nodded, caught by his reverential description, knowing just what he was talking about. “That’s right,” my mother said, smiling at him. “Must be you know what is good rice because you’re Korean, right?”
“Just chokum more,”
“Yeah,” my nephew said sadly. “Usually we get leftover rice that’s kinda yellow and hard.”
she urged, ladle loaded and poised above our heads.
My sister-in-law let out a horrified giggle and my mother’s lips thinned.
“Just have a little more to keep me company.”
Before my mother could deliver a lecture on how her grandchildren should have freshcooked rice daily, I jumped in.
And so my siblings and I and our spouses and children each held our plates up to receive second and third helpings, feasting on remembrances and rice.
His voice was wistful, nostalgic, as if recalling a lost love.
“So, ah,” I asked my nephew, “what made the rice so perfect?” My nephew, dreamy eyed, breathed,
Shooting my sister-in-law a teasing smile, I goaded:
Later that night, as the family settled around the table for what would turn out to be a three-hour meal, my mother served that perfect rice. As we talked, trading stories about the past and present, my mother kept jumping up to scoop more rice onto our plates.
a life changing trip in China
Lucy Adella Kenneally
Three Classrooms and 80 Lead Pencils
There was one school in particular which changed my perspective on life, and helped shaped me into the person I am today.
To me buying a new pencil case, a pack of pens, an eraser or even a stapler was an excitement at the beginning of every school year. The one thing I used to wait forâ€Ś the back to school run. Growing up I had never considered this a luxury, I had always expected it and thought of it as a necessity. On my trip through China, my classmates and I visited schools. Some of these schools, as a whole, consisted of only 2 classrooms, others 20.
Lucy Adella Kenneally
Some of the most poignant memories in life are those that change you. In 2008 I was very fortunate to travel with my school to the Sichuan province in China. When exploring outside of the capital, Chengdu, the simplicity of the countryside enhanced its natural beauty. The rolling hills, crisp air, still meadows & little villages were beautiful. But my memory although enriched by the aesthetics of this place was special because of the people I had met.
I walked into each classroom and was met with surprised, little faces staring up at me in awe. Half the reason was because they had never seen someone like me before, a white person. Analyzing my features, examining my dress and staring at the objects I held in my hand (DSLR camera and bag of pencils for them) they were silent. I was foreign, different, the unknown. It took the kids a while to warm up to my classmates and I. Not only were the kids shy but the language barrier was an added challenge. Thankfully, some of my friends spoke Chinese and I was able to start learning more and more about each of the kids. I found out that some of the children, from the age of 5, were walking an hour and a half to get to school, not only in the dry heat of the summer but also trudging through 2 feet of snow and sludge. Due to this distance, it meant some days they
Lucy Adella Kenneally
Before visiting, we were informed that the school consisted of 3 classrooms. Doing some calculated mathsâ€Ś I bought 80 lead pencils give or take (with erasers on the top). This cost me close to 20 dollars, which in the scheme of things was a small price to pay.
were unable to attend class due to brutal weather conditions or their responsibilities and need for help at home. These children were so grateful for having the opportunity of education and so dedicated to their studies. In comparison, I looked at myself, and I know I have been a culprit of pulling a sick day just because I “couldn’t be bothered to wake up early” that day. When I finally gave them their pencils, I have never seen light shine so bright through someone’s eyes. Their excitement and joy over something so small, the fact it had an eraser on the end was too much for them. When we brought out the soccer ball and net we were donating to their school, tears flowed from every single little boy in the classroom. The gratitude from these children was overwhelming and I looked at each of them and just saw such gratitude and appreciation. It was hard to part from them all at the end of the day, not only because they were amazing kids, but because they literally refused to let go of your hand. I didn’t want to let go either. I left that school looking back on my life and how I took way too much of it for granted. My expec52
BUONA CONSERVA Lucy Adella Kenneally
tations on what I should have in life appeared indulgent and my appreciation for the little things wasnâ€™t great enough. These children all touched my heart in a way that I never expected and brought me back to reality. A few months after my visit to the Sichuan province, the earthquake in Chengdu hit. Devastatingly, it affected the area I had visited very hard and from what I learnt later, many of the schools and villages I had visited were destroyed.
I cannot lie, I still complain about the most minor things at times, as old habits die hard, but I still remember those children, how they taught me to place value in family, friends, education and opportunity, to love life and appreciate the smallest things. I was very fortunate to have met these children and the friendship, life lessons and memories they so preciously gave me was a present I will treasure forever.
My heart broke.
br ek ki e
banana for my cereal
BUONA CONSERVA James Kenneally
I barely remember the time when I couldnâ€™t cut up my own banana for my cereal. But there was a time when I was too little to work the knife. My grandpa, on the other hand, did it artfully. He would hold the banana in his left hand and the knife in his right. He would grip the knife loosely, balancing the handle in his palm and resting the blunt side of the blade against his index finger, which was curled in.
Then he would push the banana into the knife with his right thumb and cut it as swift as a money-counter, and the little banana coins fell. Thoughtlessly, I now cut my banana the same way every morning, reminded occasionally of the artist from my childhood. A memory lasts in the preparation of a fruit that is notoriously brief.
BUONA CONSERVA Carly-Anne Kenneally
Remembering Nan something alzheimerâ€™s can never take away
I was only 5, but I still remember making apple pies together in the kitchen with the apples her and grandma grew in their backyard. We played ‘spot the difference’ from the sunday paper and I’ll always remember her smile behind those oversized, slightly tinted 80’s style glasses. My grandparents, like many grandparents, influenced so many aspects of my life. They inspired me to cook, along with my parents they enforced manners and discipline and on school holidays took my brother and I on special adventures like movies, dancing and bowling. Three of my grandparents died but their quality of life was like many of ours. They were able to drive, cook and socialize within their communities. We all thought they were too young. But what happens when your mind passes on- before your body. Alzheimer’s is a disease that affects initially your brain. They have identified what it is, but at this stage there isn’t any indication of what might cause it. It affects your cognitive
ability, your memory, can affect your personality. Often it’s the small changes that you notice initially that someone just is a little bit different to how they normally are.
That was Helen Coswell, she’s the senior councelor at the alzheimer’s foundation in Sydney. The alzheimer’s foundation offers support to carers and family members of people with alzheimer’s. My nan, my mother’s mother, was diagnosed with alzheimer’s when she was just 64- two months after my pop past away. It wasn’t until she was alone for the first time in 60 years that we noticed how forgetful she had become. A very common symptom is losing short term memory. it can affect personality and it might make mo difference. it’s one of those things that you just have to wait and see.
Nan had been seen by the neighbors walking Scout, her dog, for what must have been hourly walks throughout the day…. everyday. Usually by the end of the day Scout was seen physically unable to walk from what must have been his fourth, fith, possibly sixth walk that day. We realized she was not okay. Mom found mountains of macadamia nuts in nan’s bedroom one day, but nan never really ate nuts so mom and her brother put on their detective hats and went to the local store. They knew nan, they knew her well. She had lived around the corner for over thirty years. She was at the shops most days picking up groceries for the family meals she loved to cook, but lately, she had began to steal.
My pop, my mother’s father, was a lot younger, he had a heart attack. He was a garage door repair man by day and artist by night. He decorated cakes, created stained glass windows and built rocking horses and doll houses from raw wood in his shed. Grandma, a mother of eight and active volunteer at the local church was a kind, warm and strong woman.
Desmond Kenneally was my grandfather. He died in the house that he and my grandmother raised 8 children in. He lived alone still cooking and cleaning for himself and the occasional visitor. He was always busy in the garden and a devote member of the church.
One of the most common things that people present with, having a denature, is either calling you a thief or stealing. People can lose a concept of what money is, what money means in society, so that example of stealing might be simply because that person has lost a connection between what money is and what an object is and that you have to pay for this, you can’t just pick it up off the shelf and go out with it.
Known to the people in the neighborhood as the cake lady. Each week with her jeep and Scout the dog, she (door knocked)….. the homes of bachelors, share houses, and families providing them with their weekly fixes of strawberry slices, chocolate chip cookies and yo-yos. I loved the week she made lemon slice, slightly sour and not too sweet. But we started to become worried about her safety. Because more and more people are living alone, if they don’t have someone there to remind them some of the safety factors become an issue so there could be things like leaving stoves on, forgetting to turn off things, leaving taps running, having falls for older people tends to be a bit of an issue.
Just like that, after 40 years of looking after herself and raising a family, nan was no longer safe to be left alone. By simply prompting and guarding a person with alzheimer’s, while it won’t prolong the effects, it means rather than sitting around all day they’re active and still socialize in a monitored and safe environment. It seemed unfair that she’d
move in with us, or my uncle and aunties family. With everyone was working and raising a family, she would be in the same situation, just in a different house. Providing activities like aqua aerobics, lawn bowls and painting, it was clear nan was going to be better off in a home. On my holidays I went back to Melbourne from Sydney for a week. It had been almost five years since my last visit. My mom and brother are preparing me for the worst. “Last time we went to go see her, we’d look at her and she’d look at us in fear as if we were going to hurt her and she just looked the other way the whole time. So she really just… it was the most… it was horrible. It was really horrible to see her so scared.” mom said. Then my brother added, “Last time we went was last christmas, well that’s the last time I went anyway, and she just sat in the chair, she didn’t even say yes or no” Walking through the security doors, I instantly feel uneasy. The nurses are lovely and they greet you with a warm smile. Flowers brought by visitors surround the communal areas and family members are talking about what they are doing for christmas. Looking at nan and the other residents is hard not to stare and feel pity. These once able bodied people are restricted to their wheelchairs, waiting out their days together. “Been having fun?”, my mother asked my grandmother.
“Yeah? What have you been up to? Have you been making hats for xmas? or have you made some boom booms for chirstmas?”, mum asked. “That’d be good”, nan responded. These conversation went on for a while. As she was staring into the distance looking completely unaware of the world around her. We began singing christmas carols, itsy witsy spider, and children songs. She knew some words, but hummed along knowing the melody perfectly.
Over glasses of champaign and not too much tea, we laughed, ate, and drank, remember nan for the lady she was and no longer look at her as the lady I pity, but the wife, mother and grandmother who’s passion for arts and craft, baking and love for the theatre has assisted in defining not just me, but my mother, my brother, and our entire family. That’s something that alzheimer’s can never change.
“Yeah pretty good”, nan responded.
You have to think outside the box because their reality will be different from yours. A lot of what happens is, they tend to live in their memories and so she could possibly be living in the past.
For the past eight years I have associated nan with alzheimer’s and forgotten many of the things that defined the lady she was. On mom’s most recent visit to Sydney we decided to celebrate the lady she was before the alzheimer’s took over her mind. Our Friday night began with Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Saturday was a trip to the movies to watch one of theatre’s most famous productions les amis? and Saturday afternoon consisted of high tea at the Victoria.
It’s reassuring to think nan may be living in her memories. It has made me realize how important it is to create lasting memories now. By the time the disease has become quite advanced it’s harder and more emotional for us that are watching from the outside.
BUONA CONSERVA James Ross
The Card remember, no one’s got your back. XX Dad.
“What was dad like?” I ask. She looks at me through dark, sleepy eyes, pushes her hair back from her eyes. Her arms are scabbed like she’s been shinning up a rusty drainpipe and accidentally slid back down and scraped herself. ‘Whu?’ “I said, what was dad like?” She smiles at me, and I suss that she’s still trippin’ and I should ask her later when she’s straight. Anyhow, the only thing I ever got from him was a birthday card when I was ten. It said Happy Birthday Mickey! And then there was a verse inside the card that went: Now you’re ten, and how you’ve grown It really won’t be long ‘til you’re a man, and fully grown with arms both big and strong. And on the front of the card was a picture, a cartoon, of a little boy wearing a hardhat and driving a tractor. But I mean, how would he know I’d grown? To be honest, I was surprised he knew where I was, we moved so often.
But the killer was, at the bottom of the card, below the rhyme, he’d added: Remember, no one’s got your back XX. Dad. I’d studied this card on more than one occasion, trying to work out some depth to what he was telling me. “Laura, what was dad like?” Three hours later and she’s washing up. The dutiful daughter. She looked up a little, thought about my question for a second or two. Then she said, “I love him. Still.” “Well I hate him. What was he like, though?” And she said, “Stern.” “Stern, huh?” “I don’t mean strict; more like serious. Like you, a bit, but smarter, taller and better looking.’ Then she laughed and slapped me across the arm, “Dry the dishes,” she said.
The only thing I ever got off my old man was a birthday card when I was ten. He’d gone off when I was three and left me and mam and my sister to fend for ourselves. Mam never talks about him but my sister remembers him.
It’s funny, I learn a lot from my sister, mainly don’t do drugs, which I should have written in capital letters instead of italics, but never mind, the thing is, when
she’s not high or shaking ‘cos she needs some stuff, she’s really smart and, truth be told, she’s the core of our family, the strength, believe it or not. Honest, she keeps us together. There’s me, fifteen, bright, got a future, they tell me, though I haven’t and I’ll tell you about that later, and then there’s my mam, as honest as, and working, and sensible (though not in her choice of boyfriends or anything) and all that stuff. And then there’s Laura. Nineteen, and a junkie, but she holds the family together. Cos mam’s a flake and useless, and I, basically, am at a loose end; financially, educationally, socially, morally… I won’t go on. Laura has one thing going for her; she’s honest. And because she is honest she sees more than most, so she knows more than most, and she holds me and mam together. Mam. Hold on, I was told by my English teacher, Miss Wright, that I should show, not tell; “too much exposition,” she’ll say to me. So maybe I should stop describing my life, start showing what happens instead, but I’ll get to that bit in a bit, so to speak. Ok, so mam. My mother. She is thirty seven years old and she is a flake. A total dribble. Weak as. They should do a reality TV show on my mam – “How Not To …” How Not To bring up your children. How Not To save for the future. How Not To get a good job. How Not To attract a nice boyfriend. She did once. Attract a nice boyfriend, that is. And I’ve read all the women’s magazines she buys and I knew from the
off it wasn’t going to last. From the moment she said to me, “He’s kind, thoughtful, good looking. He’s got a good job, Pete, and a lovely car” (a bloody good car, since you ask. You didn’t? But you would have. A Kompressor. Which means Supercharger. Which also means money. Cool. German. Cool. And much more). But anyway, as she’s telling me all this I’m thinking, Yeah, but mam, you’re going to fall for a skinheaded nightclub doorman or a carpet salesman called Wayne and you’re going to jack Pete in and tell me ‘there was no spark’ which translates as, you think that love equals pain, and affection means distress and you think that being nice is the equivalent of being invisible. Which it kind of is. So just be honest. Please. So, as predicted, Pete went the journey. Kompressor and all. And in moved Marc. Fifteen years younger than mam. What a tosspot. What a racket. It was embarrassing. It was the crime that no parent should inflict upon their children! Making those noises. I was twelve, which made Laura sixteen; she’d just failed her exams and was working in Safeway. Very content. Regular money, dreaming about her own flat. Boyfriend. And the last thing that Laura wanted was mam and Marc doing that upstairs halfway through a Sunday afternoon. Go on mam; be a mam, not a flake. Don’t be desperate, please. But no. And when Marc made a play for Laura one afternoon, just a suggestion you understand, she screamed the place down and mam came dashing downstairs half-dressed and slapped Laura to shut her up and then slapped her again when she heard what she was accusing Marc of doing. I’m not tough, really, I’m not. And I’m not pretending to be not tough so you’ll think
It was one of those afternoons with dark and light grey clouds flying across the sky on the wind (scudding, as they say in really old novels). I sat on the step of our front door watching the seagulls wheel and fly and sail on the wind. I wished I could do that. I have this theory that, to us the world is a flat thing we stand on, but to birds it is a cliff they cling to, a huge ball and they cling to the side and then fall off and fly and glide. I’m digressing here, but I can’t remember what else happened, except I know how it ended.
I was ten years old for Chrissake. Write I miss you or We’ll meet up when you’re older or Stick in at school. In fact, here’s an idea. Don’t send me a card.
that really I secretly am tough either. I’m just not. So when mam took his side against Laura I couldn’t drop Marc with a right hook to the jaw or a knee in the family jewels, though Ireally, really wanted to, so I just went and sat on the front step and listened to them row.
Go on. Unsend it. But the funny thing is, daft, one-off card with a stupid picture and a deranged verse it might have been. But he was right. No one’s got your back.
The next morning I waited until Marc went out and then I used mam’s phone to call the police and grass Marc for the twenty grams of cocaine he had stashed in a haversack under the stairs. Bingo. Job done.
Anyhow, this card I got from my dad. It said, remember, no one’s got your back, like this was some piece of information I’d known but had forgotten, or like I already had asked someone to get my back and then discovered they hadn’t got it, or something. I mean, come on dad, I don’t know who you are, or where you are or what you do or anything, but come on, be a dad for a minute. For as long as it takes not to write that sentence.
Like I say, I’m not tough. But I don’t need to be when there’s five polis and a German Shepherd dog breaking down the door and dragging Marc screaming down the path and into a van.
the things I learned while bagging bread rolls
Liz Ann Bennett
Bagging Bread Rolls
I bagged bread rolls out the back for three hours, alongside a silent teenage boy. Then we would bag hot cross buns and bath buns. Then I would serve customers for about two hours. At 11:30, I left. I would go home and sleep for three hours. This is what I learned in two years of Saturday mornings. Bread makes noises. A rack of hot loaves makes little crackling sounds as it cools down, and it radiates heat like an electric fire. It’s delightful to stand next to. Boredom is boring, but good for you. My most important decisions and stressful weeks were brooded over with trays of rolls, a pile of plastic bags and a bag sealer. It’s useful to have something in your week that forces you to think slowly. However, useful thinking time turned into pure and simple boredom after two hours.
perspective, but no good if you’re trying to remember whether it’s ‘spelt bread’ or ‘spelte bread’. Hot cross buns are difficult to bag. They get stuck to the bag. They’re far too sticky. Creative industries don’t have a monopoly on pink hair. My favourite person to talk to was a woman who works in the sandwich room. She’s about fifty and has a vivid pink dye job. She describes herself as a trainee drummer, and always took up the latest issue of oh comely with a sharp eye. I miss talking to her. Sausage rolls are important. A nice sausage roll can be the highlight of someone’s day, so anyone who serves nice sausage rolls has every reason to be proud of it. A woman I used to babysit for came in a few weeks before I left. She asked when I’d left university, and was a little nonplussed when I told her it was two years ago. She left quickly with her sausage roll, and I felt a twinge of embarrassment that she’d written me off as a failed graduate working for the minimum wage. I wanted to tell her that I was working as a journalist and was about to quit the bakery. I wish I’d learned to be proud of a good sausage roll.
My alarm would go at 4 am, and I’d leave the house by 4:30. I would walk through empty streets, meeting a few tipsy clubbers and very early joggers. I would pass the newspaper stand man setting up his stall, and the sickly smell of our rival cooking its inferior pastries. I would change into the purple shirt and multi-coloured apron, exchange moans about how early it was with the other early people and head downstairs again.
Liz Ann Bennett
A few weeks ago, I quit my Saturday job in a bakery. I’d had it for two years after leaving university. I miss it there, but every Saturday morning I am still relieved that I don’t have to get up.
Most people don’t care about spelling. It’s easy to forget this when you work at a magazine and everyone cares about spelling as much as bakeries care about undercooked croissants, which is a lot. This is good for the
BUONA CONSERVA Desmond Kenneally
the love of my life carries on in my heart
The funeral went in a flash and everyone went home. With no more distractions reality started to kick in. The loss of ones partner after so many years of marriage has a tremendous effect on the one who is left. I didnâ€™t realise immediately, but in the weeks that followed I started to notice the change that was happening in my life. Suddenly there were so many things I must no and so much I had taken for granted that now had become essential for moving on with my life. She was no longer there telling me that something had to be bought or this account is due on
this day or even donâ€™t forget to do such and such. It was a tough transition moving from a dependent relationship of two people to an independent man dealing with the grief of his beloved wife. I turned to my family for support as I was blessed with such a large one. The moving on become bearable as there is such a support network backing me all the way. I managed getting past the tough stage of mourning. The sadness never leaves you but with time you tend to manage. I will never forget Margaret as she was and STILL is a major part of who I am. I think about her everyday even for a brief moment. On May 18th of this year it will be the 10th anniversary of her death. I cant believe 10 years has past with her not being next to me making dinner or waking up in the morning but I no she is always with me and I reminisce about her with my sons, daughter in-laws and even with my grandchildren. She has had an impact on my life positively by showing me how much I can love someone so dearly and has affected my view of today as I always pictured her next to me for the rest of my life.
I cared for her unconditionally, setting her comfortably up in the back room facing out the window placing a bird pond and a horse shoe for luck outside the window. I would bring her, her meals and did everything I could for her. Marg arranged for me to have an appointment with the doctor and there he notified me that she only had less than a month to live because her cancer could not be cured. This was mind deadening and quite a shock to my system. I couldnâ€™t panic because I knew I had to handle it. Margaret stayed in our house for as long as she could until it was inevitable for her to go into hospital. 10 days after she went in she died peacefully by my side.
There has been one person through out my life that has changed me in a way no one else could and has affected the way I now view the present. Her name was Margaret Smith and we fell in love and got married in 1952. We had 42 years of marriage, through that having 8 children together, until an unexpected event struck our lives. Margaret was diagnosed with a type of cancer called lymphoma that arose in her lymph nodes on her neck. We first heard this news on March 18th, 1994.
La al s la ca s
Venezuelan traditional food
BUONA CONSERVA Clarivel Sacco
All of the celebrations in Venezuela are our excuse for dancing, listening to music and most of all eating. Venezuela is a country full of spirit and itâ€™s a very happy place. Looking back at some of the family traditions we had in my home I have to say that my favorite was making hallacas with my family and friends during Christmas time. We each had specific roles in the preparation, one of us was in charge of the stew that would later go inside of the hallaca, someone else was in charge of preparing the dough and others were in charge of tying them together. We all had fun cooking together, we shared stories, jokes, memories and good music. Itâ€™s one of those memories I hope to pass on through generations because it brings families and friends together in a very special way.