Souper Meals with Sabah and Mom

“I have always relied on the kindness of strangers,” admits Blanche DuBois, an aging belle in Tennessee Williams’ classic play A Streetcar Named Desire. Blanche has had the props knocked from under her and has nowhere to turn except to her sister Stella, also living in reduced circumstances.

Sabah’s Story

In a far, far different context and definitely not because they have the slightest desire to do so, refugees from all over the world have been forced to rely on the kindness of strangers as they flee terrifying conditions in their homelands.

Such has been the case of Sabah Jabri, who with her husband and children left bomb-scarred Baghdad, Iraq in 2007 with just identification documents and the clothes on their backs and fled to Syria, ironically back then a peaceful respite from warfare.

Photo courtesy of Lancaster Online
Photo of Sabah and her soup courtesy of Lancaster Online

Sabah, an accountant, and her husband Alaa, a civil engineer, fled Baghdad when fighting between Sunni and Shiite militias made daily life unbearable. They ended up in Syria for a year, cared for by a family whose home – and whose soup – they shared, a dish they called “yakhni.”

Syrian2ChickenSoup

After a year in Syria, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees assigned the family to emigrate again to Ephrata in the heart of Pennsylvania Dutch County.

Currently, Sabah is manager of the Café at Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata, where you can be sure this soup is on the menu. The article in Lancaster Online did not include the recipe (Of course not!) but the ingredients were listed: chunks of chicken breast, potatoes, carrots, onions and chickpeas in a hearty broth. Incidentally, Ten Thousand Villages in Ephrata offers fair trade items worldwide for sale.

More than sixty years ago, a visionary named Edna Ruth Byler worked through the Mennonite Central Committee to begin an enterprise which has mushroomed into Ten Thousand Villages.

. . . [She] believed that she could provide sustainable economic opportunities for artisans in developing countries by creating a viable marketplace for their products in North America. She began a grassroots campaign among her family and friends in the United States by selling handcrafted products out of the trunk of her car. Byler made a concerted effort to educate her community about the lives of artisans around the world.

Ten thousand Villages is the result, an undertaking that has grown well beyond the tiny house of its inception and offers for sale baskets, jewelry scarves, bags, kitchen & dining articles, toys and other items from artisans, particularly women, around the world.

Mom’s Soup

Mother also knew the nutritional heartiness of soup and often had vegetable soup waiting for us when we drove or flew up from Florida at Christmastime. Within five minutes of our arrival, one of us would fly into the kitchen and open the Frigidaire to see whether there was a ceramic pull-out drawer full of soup in the bottom left.

MomVegSoupRecipe2_layers_4x3_300


Chicken corn soup was also her specialty, with hard-boiled eggs and rivels, doughy droplets made from flour  . . .

Mom's Chicken Corn Soup without Rivels
Mom’s Chicken Corn Soup without Rivels

 

Author, editor, and cookbook writer Melodie Davis has recently featured savory Spanish lentil soup on her website where the recipe for the dish below appears.

SpanishLentilSoupMelodie

 

Quotes about Soup

Soup is a lot like a family. Each ingredient enhances the others; each batch has its own characteristics; and it needs time to simmer to reach full flavor.         ~ Marge Kennedy

 

Only the pure of heart can make good soup.                ~ Beethoven

 

And finally, Bennet Cerf defines good manners as “The noise you don’t make when you’re eating soup.”

 

 

How has soup enhanced your life? Do you think Beethoven is right in the quote attributed to him? Do you have a choice recipe to share?

 

Coming next: A Snow Bunny and a German Lullaby

 

Playing Tag, The 2014 WIP Tour: Who’s Next?

On the playground of Rheems Elementary School, Red Rover, Hide and Seek and Tag were standard fare. I wrote about fun at recess in a blog post last September entitled Games We Played.

Google Images
Google Images

In the blog world, I have been tagged in the 2014 Work in Progress (WIP) Blog Tour, offering authors the chance to share snippets of their Works in Progress. When Janet Givens tagged me, my first reaction was this: “I’m so busy in my personal life and my writing life, I don’t know how I could possibly squeeze in another thing!” At the time, she did not remind me that she herself was busy promoting her just-published memoir of her years in the Peace Corps At Home on the Kazakh Steppe while keeping current on her blog.

Before I said, “Okay, I’ll do it!” she explained, “It’s really simple. There are just three rules.”

1. Link back to the post of the person who nominated you. (See above.)

2. Write a blurb about and give the first sentences of your next three blog posts (or book chapters)

3. Nominate four other writers to do the same.

 

While thoughts of my memoir are incubating, I have spent time here on my blog mining material that may be woven into my book some day. Here, in chronological order, are the opening lines of my next two blog posts and a blurb from the preface to my work-in-progress memoir. That makes three!

 

November 8: “How to Tell Your Children What’s What” 

Unlike Hansel and Gretel whose mother tried to starve them and then lock them out of the house, Mother Longenecker provided well for her children and left behind, not white pebbles or bread crumbs, but hand-written notes tucked away to tag her heirlooms.

 

November 12: “Purple Passages and Fine China”

La Lectura es el viaje de los que no pueden tomar el tren.        – F. Croisset

(Reading is the journey of those who cannot take the train.)

Excerpt from preface of my untitled memoir, WIP:

There was a crooked man, and he walked a crooked mile,

He found a crooked sixpence against a crooked stile;

He bought a crooked cat which caught a crooked mouse,

And they all lived together in a little crooked house.

The Longenecker family doesn’t have a cat in residence but we all live together in a little crooked house. Crooked as in lintels above the bedroom doors that slope crazily so much so that they can never be closed tight. Crooked as in floors that sag slightly so that water flows oddly when I’m on my hands and knees washing up the kitchen linoleum. Sagging steps from the 1903 part of the house leading down to the cellar. Every night I sleep downhill on my hard feather pillow.

But there is nothing crooked or saggy about my upbringing . . . .


Now it’s my turn to tag 4 writers for the 2014 WIP Tour:

1. Laurie Buchanan, holistic health practitioner and life coach with inspirational posts weekly on Tuesdays with Laurie. They are short, sweet, and wise.

2. Marie Keates, blogger tells true stories with a British accent. When her fat-girl-slim-blog was hacked (decimated) recently, like a Phoenix she rose from the ashes and now posts at I Walk Alone.

3. Melodie Miller-Davis, author with over a dozen books/cookbooks to her credit, most from Herald Press, she writes weekly on her blog, Finding Harmony.

4. Marylin Warner, writing coach, short story and memoir author, writes of the remarkable connection to her literary mother suffering from Alzheimer’s in her blog Things I Want to Tell My Mother.

I hope you’ll click on the links and visit their sites often.

None of the four are under any obligation to play tag. But I hope they do. I’m looking forward to reading bits about their Works in Progress. So, Laurie, Marie, Melodie, and Marylin. You’re it!

*  *  *

Coming next: How to Tell Your Children What’s What

Family Dinners: Keeping the Spark Alive

Are family dinners important? What about empty nesters? Families of one? Do family dinners protect against the effects of teen drug use and cyberbullying? Writer Melodie Miller Davis in her recent blog post “How do you keep family dinner?” got me thinking about recent research on the topic.

In her post, she refers to Columbia Casa Family Day, a national initiative to remind parents that they have the “power to help keep their kids substance free.” Cornell University researchers also have discovered that shared meals may help prevent eating disorders. An article in Time asserts that teens benefit from interaction with their families and find security in the shared, predictable ritual of family mealtime possibly preventing early drug use and the effects of cyber-bullying. However, there is also research that claims such effects are overstated or not verifiable.

Whatever the case may be, the faster the pace of our lives and the more insane world events become, the more I long for the sweet spaces of serenity that sharing family meals can provide.

The Longeneckers and the Metzlers, two strands of my family line were oblivious of any such research but carried on the ritual of family meal time together. Here is a post from the Metzler gatherings, often picnic style.

Family dinners can be very large as seen here in Grandma and Aunt Ruthie’s house with twenty, mostly Bossler Mennonite Church friends, gathered around their huge dining table.

Mother L_Bossler eating_at Ruthies

Whether large or small, indoors or out, dinners require preparation. My sister Jean and her family provide some of the “raw material” from a shared meal at Mother’s house.

Mom&FairfieldsREV

Years ago if we didn’t visit Pennsylvania, I shared holiday meal making with my sister Janice, who lives just 2 ½ miles from us.

There's one in every crowd - even in family!
There’s a joker in every crowd – even in family!

03_meal_Easter_1999

And then the over-flow table with the kids . . .

04_meal_Thanksgiving_2005

After awhile, our children began entertaining us, first in Chicago where all four worked, earned graduate degrees and started a family.

05_meal_Grayslake_1999

Then when they moved to Florida, two years apart, their meal making continued with Fourth of July at Joel’s house . . .

06_meal_Thanksgiving_Cristas_2009

. . . and Thanksgiving at Crista’s house in her bright sun room.

Any excuse for a party! Besides birthdays, Fourth of July can be a cause for celebration too.

07_meal_Memorial Day_2009

One of us, who loved everything about entertaining from meal preparation to talking and eating around the table, will be missing this holiday season and every meal in between, our Mother Ruth Longenecker, hostess extraordinaire.

Mother slicing pig stomach with baked corn and a stick of butter close by
Mother slicing pig stomach with baked corn casserole and a stick of butter close by

 How have family dinners marked your family history?

Coming next: # 1 in a series “Moments of Discovery”