Monthly Archives: September 2013

Food Prompts Memories That Can Lead to Stories

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A dish of bright green asparagus is the spark for memories that could or will become a story. It is certainly a bit of memoir remembering putting me back in to several worlds.

I buy and cook asparagus often. Its easy, dresses up a meal and I love it.

I am so known to love asparagus, especially the slender, baby spears, that Jim’s mother used to stock the refrigerator with the bright green bundles and have it waiting for me on our visits to California. I have eaten it for breakfast, lunch and supper. Asparagus as a side with scrambled eggs – ambrosia.

Growing up Mama bought canned asparagus at the Big Star on Central Avenue when she wanted to dress up a special meal – you know, the fat, muddy green, soggy spears. She would put them on a platter with a huge dollop of creamy Duke’s mayonnaise – maybe some red tomato slices -as a side dish. Even then I liked them – mostly because they were supposed to be a special treat.

I don’t remember the exact time or place I discovered fresh cooked asparagus but after that moment there was no going back.

It might have been about the time I discovered that green beans did not have to be cooked with fat-back until they were black – although that is the way I like them best and will feast until I am full on the memories of my grandmother’s house on East Seventh Street.

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Do you like the picture? Here is the recipe. Thanks to



Asparagus Recipe

  • Cook time: 10 minutes


  • 1 bunch of medium sized asparagus, about 1 lb
  • 2 Tbsp of the most exquisite extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp freshly grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest – freshly grated lemon rind
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper


1 Prepare the asparagus by rinsing them thoroughly, break off any tough, white bottoms and discard. Cut into 1 to 2 inch sections, slicing the asparagus at a slight diagonal.

2 Fill a medium sized saucepan half way with water, bring to a boil. Add the asparagus and reduce heat slightly to a simmer. Parboil the asparagus for exactly 2 minutes. Drain the hot water. While the asparagus are still hot, toss them in a bowl with the olive oil, Parmesan, and lemon rind. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or room temperature.

Note that when you are working with so few ingredients, it’s important to make sure they are of the highest quality.

Yield: Serves 4.


Genealogy and my storytelling

Gus Keasler Letter Sig 2

My passion for storytelling is linked to my passion for genealogy. I find stories in genealogy.

Letters particularly bring anyone reading them close to those long ago and the letters tell stories.

Parks is one of my mother’s family lines. Did we know this? No. Did she know this? No to that too. Its amazing how the shade from your family tree begins to spread when you start tracing your families.

On one of my forays to the DAR Library looking for ancestors I found this letter from James Parks which says so much about how and why family history slips away.

More than 100 years ago on September 9, 1893 James Parks sat down to write this letter to his Granddaughter:
My dear granddaughter,
You desire me to
write out a history of our family, I regret that I know so little compared with perhaps what I might have learned from my grandfather. But the truth is that at the time when he was capable of affording me information, I was more interested in pocket knives, fish hooks, and pop guns than in family history, and when I arrived at an age when history of my family would have been more interesting, my Grandfather had fallen into a childish stage and was incapable of giving such information about anything of a worldly nature.”

What else is there to say. I am grateful for finding this letter – James Parks encourages me on. Letters put you close to the author and I felt I met him when I found this. We are not direct descendants of James Parks – but are collaterally related. Coming EARLY as Mama’s families did – the ties are tightly woven.

Attic Museums

I love “attic” museums.
Small places where they exhibit

the bits of peoples’ lives.
Where the obscure becomes important.
Some would say

“all they have is trash.”

Attics are where you find the bits of memories.
Where you stumble across the forgotten
Kept because it was precious.

Southerners have an affinity for holding on –

To things.
We want the bits of history

To tell us who our people were.
So we will know who we are.

We keep stuff – for generations.

A photograph, a piece of lace, a spoon,

Books, oh, my yes, books

Letters, pens, linens, pots and pans.

And on, and on, and on.

We guard them.

They are us.

Our roots, our connections.

How can you know yourself

Without your stuff?

That’s where the stories are.