Reviving a family tradition

Apr 6, 2012

Many of us have family traditions that are linked to our ethic or cultural roots.

Earlier this year we asked listeners to share a special family tradition or family recipe. We got recipes from listeners that tie back to their ethic roots, some from Trinidad, Holland and Poland.

And, there was also a little contest. Our winners were sisters Dianne Johns and Holly Godbey. They revived their Lebanese family tradition of baking Easter cookies.

"You start with 5 pounds of flour, 3 sticks of butter, 3 cups of sugar, 4 cups of whole milk, and then the anise, salt and ground cherry pits…oh and yeast of course."

You can see the full recipe here.

Dianne lives next door to her sister Holly in Lansing. Every year around Easter the sisters get together with family and friends and spend the whole day making cookies.

Holly says in Lebanon they’re called, "Kaik, k-a-i-k. And everybody laughs their heads off at that because it sounds so much like something else….but it’s hard to call them anything else but Kaik, we’ve done it our whole lives." Laughing Dianne adds, "If you say I had coffee and Kaik for breakfast this morning, people are going to look."

In the family room there are eight people are sitting around a large round table, mixing, rolling, stuffing, and poking the pastries.

14-year old Tiana and 8-year old Madison also like to help out. Tiana says her favorite part is making the  designs of the cookies. Madison agrees, and she adds, " I kind of like dates the best in the middle. It's really good."

The cookies are golden brown and glossy, some are round, others are half-mooned and they are flat, about the size of a saucer. Dianne says the cookies didn't always look so good.

"Some people can make them and they are perfectly round, they look like they came out of a press. And we decided, well, if we are going to make them ourselves and if they’re not perfect we don’t care we’ll learn by doing it. The first year they were so funny looking…they looked like hamburgers…. But they’re getting really good looking," Holly says.

What is it about cooking together that makes this a special experience for you?

Dianne says, "I think it’s the group of people, we have fun because there is a lot of teasing going on and it’s just a good group of people and we laugh all day while making them."

What about bringing in the next generation into this process is that important to you? "We would very much like to see the tradition kept, says Dianne. Holly adds, "yeah, you know we want them to keep on doing it when we’re gone. We want them to do it."

Dianne says, "It’s fun to have something other than the American experience in your life. It’s nice to have some other traditions."

*This story was informed by the Public Insight Network. Share your story here.