I’m on the last day of a three-day cooking marathon in honor of my parents’ 60th wedding anniversary. My parents, Howard and Angeline Shelf, got married on April 9, 1952. In an era where six years of marriage is ground-breaking, 60 years is earth-shaking.
In honor of the vow renewal ceremony this weekend, I made a huge bowl of spice mix to season everything with, marinaded and roasted 130 pieces of chicken (Mom loves it), made the biggest meatloaf I’ve ever seen (my Dad’s favorite), cooked vats of buttery rice, made restaurant-sized pans of mixed vegetables, and 10 gallons of tea flavored with crushed and strained strawberries and lemons, mixed with orange-spiced green tea.
The tea is so addictive that folks gather around the punch bowl like bees and start buzzing about how good it is after the first sip.
While cooking that much food is a lot of work, big food is a sign of love in our family. It draws us together in good times and in sad times, it binds us through the years. With the memories of all of the wonderful meals we’ve shared, it is the sensory embodiment of love.
And we have much to celebrate and remember. My father served in the military throughout my childhood. We moved countless times. My mother stayed at home and managed the household on his salary. They raised four children, all of whom are law-abiding, productive and creative citizens. My three siblings are real estate brokers, the business my father established after he retired from the military. My oldest sister and only brother also survived more than 20 years of teaching elementary school. My youngest sister is an executive with the city of San Antonio in their real estate department. I’m the writer and chef in the family–which takes me back to the cooking marathon.
I’ll attend the ceremony on Saturday, with my feet throbbing and my hands faintly smelling of garlic–but still looking good, baby! (I am a Diva, after all.) I’ll watch my parents renew their vows, greet and serve all of our relatives and friends and pray that I have the opportunity to serve big food at their 70th wedding anniversary.
The Kitchen Diva is Angela Shelf Medearis, a regular guest chef on “The Dr. Oz Show” and “The Today Show.” She is the author of many cookbooks, including, “The Kitchen Diva’s Diabetic Cookbook.” She writes “The Kitchen Diva” blog for Vitacost.com on a weekly basis.