Ghosts In My Kitchen

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They’re back…I first posted this exactly two years ago. Today, unaware of the anniversary of this piece, the family memories began flooding in. Re-reading this moved me to share again.


There are ghosts in my kitchen. They show up every year just about now. The women in my family who loved me and taught me to cook in their kitchens are all gone now, but their presence is palpable. I feel them all around me as I begin to pull together our Thanksgiving meal, and I am comforted.

I pull out the blue bowl that my mother always used to serve her cranberry sauce, and the cream-colored ceramic bowl that we used to make the pumpkin custard for our pies. Her brown pie plate is still perfect for my crust and I read the recipe from a dog-eared sheet of paper written out in my father’s hand-writing.

Our meal will be served on dishes I inherited from my grandmother that include her beautiful serving dishes. Wine will be poured into the Waterford goblets my folks gave me so long ago when I was a young bride. The silver flatware was a wedding gift to my parents when they married in 1948. My mother used it every day.

As I begin on the cranberry relish, I can close my eyes and hear the sounds of my family around me. My Hungarian grandmother is pink-cheeked from her annual martini as she sharpens the knife to carve the turkey. She did such a better job than did my maternal grandfather, who is in the living room with “the guys”, either playing chess or idly watching a football game. Mama and her sister, my aunt, are bickering a bit, as usual, but they will pull the meal together and serve it on the table that sits in my dining room now. My maternal grandmother, “Moo Moo”, is making ย gravy and crying softly as she stirs. “What’s wrong, Moo Moo?” I ask her. “I’m crying because I’m so happy to have our family together, my darling.”


After the meal, my grandfather, Daddy and my uncle will shoo us out of the kitchen and launch into the clean-up. My mother and Aunt Ann will kick off their high heels and each light up a cigarette. Grandma and Moo Moo will both agree that this was our best Thanksgiving “ever”. I lie on the sofa with my head in someone’s lap and feel surrounded with love from the women – and men – in my family.

There are ghosts in my kitchen. I cherish them and hold them close to my heart. Happy Thanksgiving.


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68 Responses to Ghosts In My Kitchen

  1. Gisele aka LA2LAChef November 16, 2012 at 12:53 pm #

    So true!

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 12:54 pm #

      Thinking of you as well – Happy Thanksgiving, Gisele.

  2. Lynda - TasteFood November 16, 2012 at 1:42 pm #

    Happy Thanksgiving to you, too, Liz. Thank you for sharing a beautiful post.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Enjoy the holiday, Lynda X0

  3. Jayne November 16, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

    Happy Thankgiving to you Liz. Great to hear such lovely memories, thanks for sharing.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

      Thinking of you across the miles, dear Jayne. Will you do a turkey?

  4. Stephanie, The Recipe Renovator November 16, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    Oh, I just love this post so much. I am so happy to know that I will be part of this lovely tradition, and will now recognize your ghosts when they turn up.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Glad we will be celebrating together – and yes, you will see the ghosts…

  5. Carpool Goddess November 16, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

    This is beautiful. It brought back fond memories of my grandmother’s kitchen.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 3:01 pm #

      Maybe you will write about your grandmother and her kitchen?

  6. Anne (@notasupermom) November 16, 2012 at 3:08 pm #

    This had me weepy from the first paragraph. Really beautiful. You are rich in memories.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Thanks, Anne, it was the women in my family who inspired me to blog in the first place.

  7. Gillian November 16, 2012 at 3:17 pm #

    That was lovely. Thank you for sharing.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 3:39 pm #

      Thanks for reading – happy Thanksgiving.

  8. Dianne Jacob November 16, 2012 at 4:08 pm #

    I started tearing up after the first sentence. I have ghosts like them too — my mother’s and grandmother’s kitchen implements and plates. My mother’s recipes leapt out at me after reading about yours. And now, with the death of my mother-in-law, I have a few of her items as well. How I cherish them all.

    Thanks for this memory and such a lovely post, and have a wonderful day with Larry and whomever else you are celebrating with.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 5:53 pm #

      Had it not been for your coaching, dear Dianne, I’m not certain I would have found my voice and been able to trash a recipe post and spontaneously write this one. best from your student, Liz

  9. Jackie {theseasidebaker} November 16, 2012 at 4:25 pm #

    What a beautiful post! Thank you for sharing!

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 5:45 pm #

      I feel so appreciative that you would take the time to leave a comment, especially as we are all so busy in our kitchens. Happy Thanksgiving!

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 5:51 pm #

      To take the time to comment is a gift – happy Thanksgiving, Jackie.

  10. Elizabeth November 16, 2012 at 4:59 pm #

    Oh, my Liz! Now that is a post. I love how your writing took us back to your kitchen. Your MooMoo sounds like the sweetest thing ever. You family sounds a lot more functional then mine was as well, btw. LOL. I feel honored that you entrusted us with such great memories. You gave us a gift on this holiday as well.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 5:46 pm #

      You are my soul sister, Elizabeth. Best wishes – and a hug to Gabe – for a happy turkey day. Love, Liz

  11. Mindy November 16, 2012 at 5:14 pm #

    Lovely piece! We are never alone in our kitchens. The ghosts of Yesterday are always on our shoulders watching and their recipes.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 5:44 pm #

      Yep, I totally agree – thanks for taking your time to comment when all of us are so busy in our kitchens.

  12. The Wimpy Vegetarian November 16, 2012 at 6:04 pm #

    What a beautiful post, Liz. My favorite I think of all the ones you’ve done. It just completely evokes the feelings we all have around the holidays in our kitchens when loved ones are far, far away, but still so well cherished. Love, love, love this. A very Happy Thanksgiving to you, Larry, and your family.

    • Liz November 16, 2012 at 6:39 pm #

      Susan, I remember bonding with you on food52 when we cried together over my mom’s mango chutney. That post is the reason I blog. Best wishes to you and Myles for a happy Thanksgiving. X0 Liz

  13. Wendy read November 16, 2012 at 8:00 pm #

    Beautiful post Liz and beautiful memories you have ๐Ÿ™‚ I’ll be thinking of you across the miles, have a wonderful Thanksgiving my friend.

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      Some to you and your family, Wendy. X0

  14. Sandie Nielson November 16, 2012 at 9:05 pm #

    This brought back so many sweet memories for me, we would often go visit my Grandma for the Holidays..she was a wonderful cook and her house would have these wonderful smells..she was always singing and laughing and I would love to sit on a stool and watch her work… My last visit she was still cooking but because of her dementia things were a little different.. she burned some of the dinner and was not even aware of this we ate it, laughed with her and sang songs after dinner.. A short time later she had a stroke and passed away on Thanksgiving Day. Nothing tasted as wonderful that year…but the sweet memories carried us through the Holidays…Grandmas kitchen, great food. laughter,singing and the blessings of family Your post was wonderful loved it!!

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      Such wonderful memories of your grandmother – some people are so special that they never leave us.

  15. Janie Emaus November 16, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    Such beautiful memories. Thanks for sharing them.

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 8:04 am #

      My pleasure – thanks for reading.

  16. CJ at Food Stories November 17, 2012 at 7:43 am #

    I love your food memories … this time of year puts me on that remembrance path, as well … Happy Thanksgiving ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 8:03 am #

      Thanks – and happy memories.

  17. Deb November 17, 2012 at 10:12 am #

    An outstanding post! You have captured the essence of Thanksgiving! I read every word and lingered with your thoughts. Thank you for sharing your splendid memories!

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 11:17 am #

      Thank you, Deb – Happy Thanksgiving.

  18. Dorothy at ShockinglyDelicious November 17, 2012 at 10:16 am #

    Just beautiful.

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 11:18 am #

      Enjoy the holiday, Dorothy – thanks for your efforts re the FBLA TG gathering.

  19. Carol Sacks November 17, 2012 at 1:25 pm #

    What a lovely, evocative post, Liz. Happy happy thanksgiving to you and yours!

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 2:01 pm #

      Thanks Carol – and best wishes for a lovely holiday to you and yours.

  20. sippitysup November 17, 2012 at 2:49 pm #

    You ghosts are a great comfort to me as well, for they allow me to see where all your beauty and heart come from. GREG

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 2:58 pm #

      X0 – Happy Thanksgiving.

  21. Beth (OMG! Yummy) November 17, 2012 at 3:18 pm #

    Lovely post Liz – one of your best in my opinion because it tells us so much about where your motivation for this blog comes from. Thanks for sharing your ghosts – they are comforting indeed!

    • Liz November 17, 2012 at 4:07 pm #

      Beth, Thanks – loved your comment about my ghosts.

  22. Laura November 17, 2012 at 10:39 pm #

    This was beautiful. Absolutely beautiful.

    • Liz November 18, 2012 at 8:07 am #

      Thank you Laura – enjoy your holiday.

  23. EA-The Spicy RD November 18, 2012 at 3:49 pm #

    I just love this post, and the photos that go along with it! Lovely family memories, which is what Thanksgiving is all about!

    • Liz November 18, 2012 at 5:02 pm #

      You are so sweet – would like to read about your family memories during the holidays.

  24. Laura @ Family Spice November 19, 2012 at 5:52 am #

    So beautiful, Liz. I love this post. I love how you can express yourself so eloquently. You brought tears to my eyes! Happy Thanksgiving, my friend!

    • Liz November 19, 2012 at 8:05 am #

      You see why I want to keep family photos on my site…

  25. Cindys Recipes and Writings November 20, 2012 at 2:48 am #

    Thanks for sharing your memories, Liz. Holidays are times to remember and make new memeories!

    • Liz November 20, 2012 at 7:54 am #

      Great advice for us all –

  26. Averie @ Averie Cooks November 21, 2012 at 8:58 am #

    There have been ghosts in my kitchen the past few days and this time of year, too. Cooking holiday food and the memories associated with this time of year, family, special times are so powerful.

    Happy Holidays, Liz! ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Liz November 21, 2012 at 10:01 am #

      Yes, Averie, tis the season – Happy Thanksgiving to you and your family.

  27. s November 21, 2012 at 6:27 pm #

    Happy Thanksgiving, Liz. I am far from my family this Thanksgiving and so your post made me miss them even more. I love that photo of those three beautiful ladies. Bless you and them. x shayma

    • Liz November 22, 2012 at 8:13 am #

      It’s hard to be so far away during the holiday – I remember being a student in France one Thanksgiving. X0 best, Liz

  28. Oui, Chef November 26, 2012 at 12:15 pm #

    Lovely story, Liz, thanks for sharing it. A belated Happy Thanksgiving to you as well.

  29. Wendy Read November 17, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    Sill love reading this Liz ๐Ÿ™‚

    • Liz November 17, 2014 at 3:31 pm #

      Thanks, Wendy – I hope it comforts some readers who, like you and me, have lost so many loved ones.

  30. Mare November 17, 2014 at 4:30 pm #

    Liz, this is a classic that you should post every year!

    • Liz November 17, 2014 at 5:26 pm #

      Mare, maybe I will. Re-reading it comforts me – it was so wonderful so spend time with you this weekend in San Francisco – love you.

  31. Suzanne November 18, 2014 at 2:05 pm #

    Happy Thanksgiving Liz and thank you for sharing those beautiful memories. I love that you use the blue bowl for cranberry relish and the brown pie plate and eat from the dishes that were handed down. Such a wonderful and touching memoir.

    • Liz November 18, 2014 at 3:26 pm #

      Thanks, Suzanne – my mom is holding her blue bowl in the top photo. Have a lovely Thanksgiving, my friend.

  32. Cathy | She Paused 4 Thought November 18, 2014 at 6:27 pm #

    I just love old photos even if I don’t know the people in them. It evokes wonderful memories of my own personal ghosts in the kitchen. Love this post and your recipes. Keep up the great work. You are appreciated.

    • Liz November 18, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

      You have a twin here – likewise, I love old photos. Thank you for your comment – truly, it made my day. Happy Thanksgiving.

  33. Jenny (VintageSugarcube) November 20, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    I have not had tears in my eyes from a food blog in a loooong time and I have tears in my eyes. But the good kind! So wonderful. Happy Thanksgiving Liz. Let’s meet up soon.

    • Liz November 20, 2014 at 11:27 am #

      Don’t cry, Jenny! Sure, let’s get together after TG? Enjoy the holiday –

  34. Sippitysup November 20, 2014 at 6:26 pm #

    This is why I love this blog. GREG

    • Liz November 20, 2014 at 6:39 pm #

      Greg, thank you. We both were raised by good mothers. Happy Thanksgiving to you and Ken.

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