Country Kitchen: Food For Hospitality

Country Kitchen: Food For Hospitality

By Mary Emma Allen

In my mom's and mother-in-law's era, as well as my grandmother's, hospitality included serving food to guests. Even casual visitors must have a cup of tea or coffee.

The food served need not be fancy, simply a sharing of the meal or offering bread and butter, cookies, or cheese and crackers when someone stopped by.

A friend remarked to my mother that she always felt so welcomed when she accompanied us to my grandmother's, "She insists we eat something. Even a cup of tea with cookies seems like a feast at her house."

My mother-in-law always seemed concerned that we might be hungry. We never went home without taking some food. Even when she lived in an assisted living home, she kept goodies in her little refrigerator and pantry to offer us.

Whenever I went to my mom's home during my grown-up years, her first remark, after greeting us, "Sit down and have a cup of tea and we'll catch up on the news." Tea usually was accompanied by some goodies she had in the house.

Tea at the Nursing Home

I carried out this tradition when Mother, in her Alzheimer's years, lived in a nursing home. She enjoyed my bringing tea and muffins from a nearby fast food restaurant. My grandchildren now have memories of joining Great Grandma and me for tea and cookies, even when Mother could no longer feed herself.

"Help your mother, Nanny" my granddaughter would inform me, when she noticed my mom reaching for a cookie or her tea.

Tea With Tasha

One of my memorable moments consists of enjoying tea with children's author/artist, Tasha Tudor. In the days before I was a published children's author, Ms. Tudor invited me to her home and gave advice to a young aspiring writer.

We chatted in front of the large fireplace in the living room of Ms. Tudor's farmhouse. During my visit, she served tea and cinnamon toast. She heated the water over the coals and made toast in a fireplace rack.

When relatives stopped by to pick me up, Ms. Tudor insisted they come in for tea, too. This was a highlight that my mom reminisced about for years.

Food at Family Occasions

Most family get-togethers, from holidays, graduations, birthdays, and even funerals include food, at least in my husband's and my families. Food seems to be a comforter, a way to share, a sign of hospitality.

With the holiday season near, we'll be going through our favorite recipes for festive meals and treats. Some of these recipes will be new ones and others are handed down through the generations.

PUMPKIN NUT BREAD can be served when guests stop by or with holiday dinners.

Combine 3/4 cup milk, 1 cup canned pumpkin, 1/4 cup melted margarine, 1 beaten egg.

Mix together 2 1/2 cups unsifted flour, 1 cup sugar, 2 teaspoons baking powder, 1 teaspoon baking soda, 1/2 teaspoon salt, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon ginger,

Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture and blend only until the dry ingredients are moistened; may be a bit lumpy. Turn into greased and floured 5 x 9-inch loaf pan. Bake at 350 degrees F. for 1 1/4 hour, or until tests done.

Article (C) 2003 Mary Emma Allen

About the Author

Mary Emma Allen has been writing her "Cooking Column" for newspapers and online publications for 30 years and has compiled a family cookbook. SheÂ’s currently compiling a cookbook/story book, "Tales From a Country Kitchen." Visit her web site for more cooking articles. Contact her at

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