About Us


This blog isn’t just about gardening and cooking.  It is about Mary Ann’s life and Fran’s life, a great deal of which just happens to revolve around the garden and the kitchen.  As a matter of fact, both lives have been sort of immersed in cooking, gardening, and farming from the very beginning.  Fran and Mary Ann both began their lives on their grandfather’s farm during the late 40’s and early 50’s.  As were many of the parents-to-be of the era, our fathers came home from the war, got married and wanted to start families.  One major problem, no housing.  With so many men and women being released from the service all at the same time, there wasn’t enough housing available.  Enter Grandpa Nick and his farm.

farmhouseNick emigrated from Eastern Europe in the early 1900’s.  He met his bride-to-be, Anna (also from Eastern Europe)  in America and began his family.  He raised 5 children.  He kept his family together, kept a roof over their heads and food on the table during the depression.  No small feat.  Family lore indicates that Nick always wanted a farm.  And, as was Nick’s pattern in life, he eventually got one.  Unfortunately,  Anna wasn’t interested in living on a farm.  So, she didn’t.  Nick would take a bus to the farm, work, then take the bus back to the city.  So, there was this farm house, just waiting for occupants.

Needless to say, a lot of the early details are somewhat sketchy.   How much do you remember from when you were 2 or 3?  Anyway, Fran’s mom (Mary Ann and Fran’s moms are sisters) dad and their (eventually) 3 kids lived downstairs.  Mary Ann and her mom and dad lived upstairs. The families shared the kitchen, dining room and, probably, the bathroom.  I know there was an outhouse but I don’t ever remember having to use it.  There was also a pump on the side of the sink in the kitchen.  Thank goodness they installed running water before the kids came along.

Grandpa nickSince Grandpa Nick was there working a lot, he had dinner at the farm a lot.  I guess today,  that’s what they call an extended family.  The kids had a ball.  The parents worked like dogs.  Mary Ann once told her mom she loved the farm.  Her mom told her if they had stayed there a few more years, Mary Ann would have been driving a tractor and that perspective would have changed.

Grandpa Nick grew potatoes, corn, strawberries, wheat, etc.  He raised chickens, pigs and cows.  He knew how to butcher what he raised and smoked meat.  Mary Ann remembers the smoke house.  He taught his daughters to can everything he grew and then some.  Both mothers are still with us.  Mary Ann’s mom (Mary, aka Mema) turned 94 a few months ago.  Fran’s mom (Stella, aka Toush) just turned 93.

Fran and Mary Ann have talked about Grandpa Nick and Grandma Annie quite a bit in the last few years.  Given where they are at the moment, they both would love to be able to have extended conversations with Nick to pick his brain about everything and anything he knew.  He retired in 1959 and moved to California to be with his boys.  Mary Ann was 10.  Fran wasn’t quite 9.  Annie shuttled between her girls in Ohio and her husband and boys in California.  Fran and Mary Ann both feel Nick played a big part in where they are now, as people, as cooks, as a  gardener/farmer and, strangely enough, bloggers.  They feel Grandpa had a hand in their reunion.  Starting this blog is their way to share what they have learned.

For many years, Fran and Mary Ann went their separate ways.  They are now back together ( a mere 2-hour drive away).  They believe they have come full circle and the time they have been spending together is priceless and precious.  So, to you and for you Grandpa Nick, we dedicate this blog.  Fran and Mary Ann hope you would have been proud.

Here is Nick at the head of the table in the dining room on the farm having dinner with the family.  As it should be.


About Us

young sistersOK.  Here we are in all our Easter Finery, circa 1950 something or other, complete with our bonnets, anklets and Mary Jane’s in front of Grandpa Nick’s and Grandma Annie’s house (the city one).  That’s Fran on the left and me, Mary Ann, on the right.  Neither of us have any idea how Fran’s sister and brother managed to escape this photo.  The hot theory is that her sister was too small to stand up (and neither of us could be trusted to hold a baby) and her brother never liked his picture taken anyhow.  We also aren’t sure whose legs those are on the porch but, given the era, its a pretty good bet is was one of our fathers’.

sisters todayWe saw a lot of each other as we grew up.  We lived in the same farm house for several years, lived only about a ten-minute drive from each other after we left the farm, spent a lot of Friday nights together and a lot of holidays at Grandma and Grandpa’s house.  Then we got our driver’s licenses, found new friends and went away to college.  Fran got married and started a family.  I started a career.  We still saw each other occasionally.  But less and less as time went on.  Shortly after college, I moved away.  Who knew it would take several decades for us to reunite in this project?

And here we are now, on Fran’s farm doing our own rendition of American Gothic. This time its me, Mary Ann on the left and Fran on the right. Click on the pictures to see full size.


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