Memory Lane

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!
This day has been absolutely glorious. It honestly felt more like summer than spring here today, which made it perfect for being out on the deck. I had a visit from my favorite cousin today which was really nice. We hadn’t seen one another for about six months, so we had plenty to talk about…even though we do stay in touch on the phone.  Our aunt also stopped by with a friend for a while, so it was a little mini reunion. We had planned on trying to pick some dandelions for a salad (hey, we’re Italian, at least partially), but we didn’t even think about it because we were so busy catching up with one another. This worked out good too because it is just a little early for the dandelions. Next week will be a different story if this weather holds out.
Of course you eat the green leafy part! 

We all grew up eating dandelion salad. When we were kids, our grandfather would take us out to pick them. Then we would go back to the house and grandpa would clean them before tossing them with olive oil, fresh garlic, and loads of vinegar. He would also crack out a nice crusty loaf of Italian bread and the whole family…grandparents, parents, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles…would sit outside on his porch and chow down. As grandpa got older, my mother and aunt carried on the picking tradition. Yes, I know that to a lot of people dandelions are a weed which they go all out to destroy. As you can see, our family looks at them a lot differently. 

After I got older and moved away…more into the city…dandelions were not possible to get. Honestly I didn’t really think about them all that much either, but once in a while I would think about how good it would taste. Several years ago I was living in Columbus, Ohio for a while…well a suburb…Dublin. Anyway, not long after moving there I went to a grocery store in Dublin caller Meijer and almost hit the floor when I saw that they were selling dandelions in bundles in the produce department. That was the first and last time I’ve seen them sold in a store but I continue to watch for them wherever I happen to be living. Not only are they good as a salad, but they are also delicious cooked…just as you would cook any other greens. 
Another big tradition when grandpa was still alive and healthy enough to do it was homemade pasta and sauce. He used to have a pasta machine which you operated with a crank. It also had all sorts of different attachments to make different kinds of noodles. That thing was so cool! So, he would make the noodles and have homemade sauce simmering on the stove for hours. While I didn’t make my own pasta today, I did make sauce from scratch…which I hadn’t done in years! For the longest time, I always made homemade sauce but it changed over the years and I had fallen into laziness by using store bought sauce and doctoring it up with my own seasonings. While doing that tasted fine for all those years, I have to admit that making it on my own today turned out so good that I do not think I will be buying any more pre-made stuff!
It’s funny how getting together with people who you have so much history with takes you on a trip down memory lane isn’t it? You just slip back in time and see yourselves as children with all of those memories of togetherness and people who are no longer with you, and it seems as though one memory brings forth another and another and so on. I find myself remembering making homemade kites with grandpa too, and taking them down into a big field and flying them in the spring…playing hide and seek at dusk with my cousins…catching lightning bugs in jars…just all sorts of stuff. Happy memories! What are some of yours? 

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