I am coming down from a truly inspiring weekend with incredible people, grateful I took the opportunity to fly across the country to be part of the Heirloom Meals Christmas Special. I knew it would be an amazing weekend when I was greeted with a water bottle, and shown the spring in the back of the property. Yes, fresh, clean, spring water, with Scottish Highland cows grazing, chickens making themselves heard, and daffodils dotting the fields as I looked out across the Berkshire mountains.
Heirloom Meals is the brainchild of Carole Murko, only one of the amazing women I met this weekend. Though Carole has achieved success in the finance world, real estate and interior design– her heart, she says, is “in food, family and telling people’s stories.” I was amazed, when after her third full day of shooting and cooking, and after weeks of prep work, she and Mary, her intern, whipped up dinner for her guests (though we assured her we were happy to go to town or make ourselves eggs on toast.) Her love of food, her generosity of spirit and joy in her guests was genuine, and inspiring.
As I dined with a personal chef from Memphis, an artist from California with Mexican roots, a San Francisco musician, a Hungarian father and daughter set of Vermont Inn owners, and so many other wonderful new friends, the thing that brought us together was food. This was only the second time in recent memory, the first being when I dined with my fellow Ellyn Satter Institute Members, that a group of mostly women ate and celebrated food and connection, and NO ONE talked about fat grams, or calories, or being “good” or being “bad” or their diet, or their butts… It sometimes feels like another Universe from the every day encounters most of us have with others around food. In short, this was a group of people who seemed to feel very good about food, and their bodies, who gleefully and gratefully tucked into a steaming bowl of pasta cooked with cauliflower, parmesan, bacon, and onion, or a fresh, eggy frittata…THIS is what I want my daughter to experience some day, and this show gives me hope that a tide is turning against our cultural dysfunction towards food. Food is a glue that binds us together, a glue made of cream cheese and sugar at times, and cabbage and apples at others. It is a central part of a joyful and full life.
The Heirloom Meal idea is to tell a story through recipes- to connect through food. I love that many of the recipes are simple and treasured, and I mostly love that through becoming the “red cabbage lady” for the weekend, I was also able to learn an incredible story from my mother about the first time she remembers eating the cabbage. (Teaser, so you’ll tune in to the show this Holiday season!) As another teaser, there were Hungarian Kiflis (a baked treat,) Austrian roast goose, tamales, sweet potato cake, biscotti, my Rotkohl (red cabbage side dish) and so many more.
Please check out Heirloom Meals, check out the blog and podcasts, and of course the Holiday Specials. It all felt like such a natural fit with my work, where really, bringing families together around the table, and helping them actually ENJOY themselves while there, is the key.
And here is Mary at the spring…
As an aside, there were inspiring women who are following their passions. An ex-software developer who now makes a living making children’s music and encouraging joy through movement, a psychologist by training, who is now a personal chef, a nurse who is an author and learning to pilot planes, a salon owner pioneering a line of organic and natural and heavenly-smelling products. I feel lucky to also be able to follow my passion of helping families raise children who feel good about food and their bodies. Which is, in essence, preventive medicine. These stories reminded me of Ellyn’s Prairie-as-life metaphor… I only wish I could have met all the participants, but I look forward to seeing them and “meeting” them on the special.