The Spark

Posted on: December 14th, 2009 by Carla Johnson 1 Comment

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Great Recipes Dipped in Alcohol and Wrapped in a Wonderful Story!

It may seem like an odd combination, but it is my intent.

Have you noticed how food is like a glue? Everytime you get together with friends, you have food. Visiting with friends or family is richer when food is involved. Business meetings are more effective if food involved. When you eat and drink together, you hunker down, enjoy yourselves and really connect.

Many cultures and religions around the globe treat alcohol as a “sin”  – and for obviously good reasons. Too much alcohol – like too much of anything – can be a serious problem. Yet, even when there are strong cultural forces urging people to follow the rules, there is always a rebel or two in the crowd – and they usually have a good story to tell.

The phrase “Cooking with sin” came from my maternal grandmother and her story is the first one I share “Grandma Started It” Chicken Cacciatore. Recently I was telling friends this story and it occured to me that there must be many, many other versions of this same story from many other people.

I hope to share recipes from my family and friends – and anyone else – who have an interesting story to go with the recipe. It may be a story of going against the grain, it may be a story from a great memory, it may be a story that has never been told yet. I would love to hear it and share it.

Let me add this. I am not a cook by any means. In fact, I have a great story about the day I bombed at boiling eggs. They literally exploded! I will let the guests be the experts. I love to eat, but I would rather let someone else prepare it. I admire anyone who enjoys cooking. I like to think of a good cook being similar to a good chemical scientist. Just the right combination of elements with the right temperature over the right amount of time and… voila!

My hope is that our stories connect us. May you bring each other and your stories and connect over the dinner table. We share a connectedness through eating, family & community. We have so much more that we share than what separates us from each other. That is what I love about the human race!

I hope you enjoy connecting with and learning from each other over the stories & recipes in this blog.



“But Ociffer, I have all soberday to Sunday-up on!”

~ One of the favourite silly sayings from a wonderful man known for his love of laughter and life, my dad Elmer Johnson (1930-2005)

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One Response

  1. Brenda Bissell says:

    Carla, your story reminds me very much of my own maternal family. My Nana wouldn’t even pick up a pair of scissors on a Sunday, as it was a sin to work on the sabbath. She would have been horrified by the idea of cooking with alcohol. Her daughter, my mother, was like yours in that growing up, I never saw her drink alcohol, but she would cook with it. My mom expressed her creative streak through lots of experiments with cooking.

    One summer, she made a fruit compote that was preserved using copious amounts of brandy. She started by adding strawberries to brandy, then cherries, and raspberries and peaches as each of them came into season. Each time she added fruit, more brandy would be added. In the winter, it had aged enough to serve over ice cream. It was delicious! My Nana came over for supper and my mother served her some of the fruit compote (without telling her what the ingredients were). Nana asked for seconds!

    I can also relate to your story about lipstick and cards. When my parents moved from Toronto to the USA in the 60’s they found that the new church that they attended was less strict – many of the ladies wore lipstick, and my mom eventually followed suit. When she returned for a visit to Toronto, and showed up at her sister’s door, her sister opened the door and greeted her with the exclaimation, “Look who’s here – it’s the lipstick kid!”

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