This past week I have been watching some of the Rootstech videos online. Rootstech is a big family history conference that is sponsored by Family Search, a family history company owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (also known as Mormons). My wife and my daughter Sarah drove down to Salt Lake City and attended the conference in person. While I couldn't make the trip to Salt Lake (the bee store is very busy this time of year), I'm very grateful that a lot of the sessions are available on the internet. I watched one yesterday on my nominal Monday off. The particular session I watched appeared to be the opening session. It lasted 90 minutes and included a number of different speakers. The one I enjoyed the most was the concluding speaker, Ree Drummond, well known for her blog, Confessions of a Pioneeer Woman.
Drummond started out in 2006 blogging about everyday life on their Oklahoma cattle ranch. At one point she started doing recipes in her blog which resulted in a popular televised cooking show and a cookbook. I have only watched her show one time but I could tell right away that she was a cook after my own heart. She was preparing a large meal to take out to a crew on the ranch that was doing some fairly demanding physical labor involving calves. They had started work very early in the day and were going to be very hungry by the time dinner showed up at the work site. The emphasis in her cooking was on flavor and hearty. The recipes she used would never make it into a weight watcher's cookbook.
Drummond became interested in family history when she got married. She was a city girl who ended up marrying an Oklahoma rancher. She thought the little town of about 35,000 she grew up in was too small for her. Now she lives out in the country and the nearest town is about 3,000. Shortly before her marriage her soon to be in-laws presented her with a book about the Drummond family. She immersed herself in the book and was hooked on family history. She wanted to make her own contribution to recording their family history and started a blog about the everyday life of her family on the ranch. She didn't foresee a television show or a popular cookbook, Drummond is very content with her family and life on their ranch. While she has enjoyed doing the tv cooking show and all that went with it, she feels the most important thing she did is her blog. She described that as a journal of their family.
As both a blogger and a family history buff I was inspired by Drummond's presentation. She blogs about their every day life, which includes lots of photos of their children, their dogs, cattle, as well as the things they eat. I felt somewhat validated in that I also like to blog about our animals and I also include recipes in my bog. Food is an important part of our family history. I enjoy that aspect of family history research. I want to know who they were, where they lived, what they did for a living, and even what they ate. Knowing details of how somebody lived helps me feel more of a connection to their lives.
Food is an interesting aspect of culture in that it seems to be very persistent. Long after German immigrant families have lost all knowledge of the German language some of the food culture remains. Linda's family is a very good example of that. Her maternal grandfather was German, consequently sausage and sauerkraut are comfort foods for her. I can also find similar examples in my own family. Growing up, I thought my mother just didn't know how to make good pancakes. I like a good fluffy pancake and mom's pancakes were always more like crepes. I later learned that she made pancakes that way on purpose because that is how my dad liked his pancakes. That was the way his mom made pancakes. Now I'm wondering if the preference for crepe-like pancakes doesn't stem from my dad's French ancestry. Linda's closest German speaking ancestor is about four generations back. My closest French speaking ancestor is about ten generations back.