Category Archives: The Parents

Stick to What You Actually Know

What do you do when you are hounded with questions about something you know little about? Do you calmly repeat (over and over) that you don’t know the answer? Do you get frustrated? Do you get angry? What do you do?

My dad taught me how to deal with this exact situation. It is really quite simple. You look the person in the eye and say, “That is all I know on the subject and if you continue to press me I will begin to fabricate.” Thank you dad!

As one who is often on the receiving end of a lot of questions, I have gained much mileage from this simple phrase. Dad found that if you tell people that you will begin to fabricate (in other words lie and make things up) the questions amazingly stop. Blessed silence and peace.

Dad always smiled when he delivered this line and it never ceased to make me laugh, even when it was directed to me following my own string of nonstop questions. I have found this simple phrase a valuable survival tool and that’s no lie.

Swedish Apple Pie Recipe from a Norwegian

When I married, mom went to her recipe box and found simple recipes for a novice (me) to create in an apartment kitchen. She felt it was her duty to make my culinary start not only easy but sublime. Our family really, really enjoys food, but it has to be good or we turn up our noses.

One of the first recipes I tested and which heralded a place in my own recipe box was Swedish Apple Pie. I always wondered how mom got this recipe, after all she was not far removed from her Norwegian roots and I had grown up hearing about those Swedes. Yet, here it is. A simple, easy and delicious apple pie. Enjoy!

Swedish Apple Pie
Fill pie plate 3/4 full of sliced apples. Sprinkle over 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 tablespoon sugar. In a separate bowl or pan, melt 1 1/2 sticks butter. Add 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup flour and 1 egg. Mix well (it will be thick). Pour mixture over apples and spread to cover. The thick dough surrounds the apples to make a wonderful crust. No need for a rolling pin! Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

My own twist…the original recipe called for 1 cup sugar not the 3/4 cup noted above. I reduced the sugar because I am trying to reduce sugar in my life without sacrificing flavor. Amazingly, reducing sugar in your life reduces your waistline. I have it on good authority (the web) that you can reduce the amount of sugar in most recipes by one-fourth without sacrificing flavor. In this recipe it worked.

Meanings are in people, not in words

When I was growing up, Dad and I had a standing appointment every Saturday. This was our special time each week to spend together. We did a variety of activities on these days, but the tasks were not the main goal; communicating, laughing and working side by side as we deepened our relationship was the primary aim. I didn’t understand this at the time and, I must admit, not even until recently as I was going through the boxes of dad’s life I inherited when he passed away this past spring.

Looking through dad’s files, I realized Dad taught me the importance of building a relationship by spending time together communicating face to face. As a doctoral student at Michigan State University in the early 1960s, dad learned that words hold superficial meaning outside the context of human interaction. To truly get an inkling about what a person is saying to you, you need to listen to their words as you think about the way these words play out in the context of the speaker’s life. Meanings are in people, not in words. Dad’s words of wisdom paired with our rich relationship and shared experiences formed a foundation of understanding that, while I didn’t always agree with him, helped me to at least be able to reason out his side.

Lessons from life are passed down generation to generation. If we are lucky enough, these relationships nurture us as we grow and form a foundation which we can stand on as we become who we were meant to be. I had such a foundation.