Your Family Story

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

We're looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and michiganradio.org. We'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

Food
6:03 pm
Fri April 6, 2012

Reviving a family tradition

Sisters Holly Godbey (left) and Dianne Johns (right).
Mercedes Mejia / Michigan Radio

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.

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Arts/Culture
2:59 pm
Tue March 6, 2012

Is a tradition still authentic if it changes?

Rosalyn Park stuffing mandu - Korean potstickers - with her family and friends
Rosalyn Park

When we asked what cultural traditions people have kept or lost, many wrote about the difficulty of fitting into American culture while staying connected to their own roots

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Your Story
11:24 am
Fri March 2, 2012

Lebanese Easter cookies; our winning recipe

Dianne Johns and her sister Holly, wearing babuskas and feigning suffering as they bake away
courtesy of Dianne Johns

As part of our Your Family Story series, we collected recipes that have been passed down within families.This is our contest winner, Dianne Johns of Lansing is our winner. We'd still like your stories about family culture and traditions. Add it here. 

The very best traditional Lebanese Easter food is the Easter cookies. They are called kaik. This is a two syllable word with a very subtle distinction between the syllables (kah-ick). The pronunciation is so similar to a slang word for a part of the male anatomy, that we rarely use it around the non-Lebanese.

I had never made kaik before. My sister, Holly made it once with the Lebanese-born cousins. They wouldn’t let her do anything but cook because they were afraid she would mess it up. Their cookies are perfection.

My sister Holly, her sister in law Linda, my friend Susie and I all got together at Holly’s house with my mother’s recipe, Linda’s experience, 10 pounds of flour, huge packages of mashed dates and walnuts, and a “What the hell” spirit. We were joined by another sister,Carol, and another Lebanese friend, Dolores, who is also an expert.

Living in Michigan is a real advantage when you are making Lebanese food. There are more Arabs in Michigan than any other state, so the ingredients for Lebanese food are usually available. These cookies call for finely ground mahleb (cherry pits) and anise. No problem. Just go to the bulk food store on Pennsylvania Avenue.

This recipe makes around 50 fairly large cookies.

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Your Story
1:17 pm
Thu March 1, 2012

The tradition of hunting in Michigan

Grant Fry of Lake Orion, pictured above (center) with his son and stepson.
Grant Fry

Grant Fry of Lake Orion sent us a story as part of our culture project on the importance of hunting in his family.

Today is the first day mentored hunting licenses are available in Michigan for children 10 years-old and younger.

Fry shared his reflections on hunting in Michigan as a boy and a man (share your story here):

As a boy growing up in Northern Michigan, hunting season, especially firearms deer season was a tradition.

Going hunting that first time and taking your first deer were as important as getting your drivers’ license. The public schools closed as teachers and students went into the woods.

"Mister" is dropped in deer camp and you can address all the adults by their first name. The expectation is you are a man and you are expected to do a man's work and take on a man's responsibility.

That has been and continues to be passed down through the generations.

I've been out hunting on opening day of firearms season for 42 years.

The anticipation builds up at dinner the night before-listening and telling stories of past hunts and past hunters. Then, there’s getting up at 4:30 in the morning to a big breakfast and lots of coffee.

Seeing the joy on your son's face as he takes his first deer and appreciates the transition he's made and seeing him accept the responsibilities of becoming a man.

Work has forced me out of Northern Michigan.

I've lost contact with some friends. My two boys are even more distributed due to out of state work and can't always make it back to hunt.

It is a loss.

Arts/Culture
12:32 pm
Tue February 28, 2012

Cake, shortbread, or pastry? Mazurek is all that, and more

As part of our Your Family Story series, we’re collecting recipes that have been passed down within families. Send in your mother’s, grandfather’s, or cousin’s famous recipe for goulash, pozole, dumplings or any dish that your family has enjoyed.

We’re collecting recipes until midnight tomorrow. We’ll publish all the recipes. The winner will be chosen by the Changing Gears team. They’ll collect a grab bag of public radio goodies. Share your traditional family recipes here, and tell us a little bit about the story behind the dish. 

Today, Changing Gears Senior Editor Micki Maynard shares this recipe for Mazurek:

My father’s family, which is of French descent, has been in the United States for many generations, settling primarily in Massachusetts. But my mother is a first generation American. Her family came to the United States around 1905. Her father hailed from what was known then as Byelorussia --- present day Belorus, sometimes also called White Russia.

My mom learned European dishes from her mother and New England recipes through my dad, so we enjoyed a varied menu at home. I’ve always heard my mother say what a good cook my grandmother was. But, I didn’t know until this year that my grandmother was co-owner of a bakery in Grand Rapids. The Northwestern Bakery stood on Leonard Street, although the building is no longer there.

Each Easter, my family gathers for brunch, and Mazurek (pronouncd mah-ZUR-eck) is always the last dish that is served. We sit over coffee and tea and enjoy this dense, rich pastry, very much like a soft shortbread. My mom was always the Mazurek baker, until she offered to teach me. She also shared the recipe with my brother, who baked the Mazurek that you see above.

Want to add Mazurek to your repertoire? Follow this recipe.

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Your Family Story
10:56 am
Mon February 27, 2012

Arriving in a new land, alone at seventeen

Esther and Antonio Manzo on their wedding day in the mid 1940's.
courtesy of Carlos Manzo

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

In the early 1900’s our widowed great grandmother, Soledad Perez, left the USA and went back to La Piedad in Mexico to raise her four daughters: Luz, Angelina, Esther & Carmen.

In the winter of 1948 my mother, Esther, a young newly married 17 year-old, found herself in a Mexican border town boarding a train headed for the USA. Her husband (my father Antonio Ramirez Manzo) gave her an address of a Catholic parish in Detroit, MI.

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Your Family Story
12:45 pm
Wed February 22, 2012

35 Years of Letters Within a Midwestern Family

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

Jillian Jones Sisko writes:

Letter writing has always been an important part of my family's legacy.

My mother discovered her family origins through a letters written in the early 1900's that were found in a desk drawer in an attic in Epernay, France. The letter was written by my grandfather and addresses to his brother. When my mother discovered the letters, she started communicating with her family.

When my oldest sister left for college in the 70's, my father, Wayne Muren, began writing weekly letters just as my great grandfather did many years prior. The letters served as a source of inspiration for my sister and as well as a blanket of comfort.

After all five children grew up and graduated from college, several moved away. Wayne kept writing letters. To this day, 35 years later, I am blessed to still receive a weekly letter filled with newspaper/magazine articles. The no. 10 envelope that was once delivered to my college dormitory is now a large manila envelope packed with news and information.

The letters are sent to not only his children, but also to his 11 grandchildren. The letters are now mailed in large envelopes which accompany 10-20 newspaper clippings to keep the family up-to-date with current events as well as comic strips from a local artist.

This gift of communication is one that I hope will never stop arriving at my door for many years to come. This ritual is now our family tradition.

Your Family Story
9:58 am
Fri February 17, 2012

The cannoli assembly line is efficient and delicious

Michelle Guevara

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

My great-grandfather migrated from Sicily. He was one of the first Fanfalones to settle in the Detroit area. Like a lot of Italian migrants, he was poor but carved a name for himself and ended up having a large family.

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Your Family Story
1:19 pm
Wed February 15, 2012

Esperanza’s Rock en Español playlist is way cooler than your Spanish textbook

Most Americans have ethnic and cultural roots outside of the U.S. We're asking you to share cultural traditions that are still important to you.

Changing Gears is looking for stories, recipes, songs, and pictures. We'll be collecting these stories  on the Your Family Story page. They'll also appear at changinggears.info and we'll even put some on the air. You can share your story here.

A lot of second and third generation Latinos have the idea that Mexico is this huge farm with cactus, but that is just a small part of Mexico. When your concept of Mexico is based on the stories that your grandparents tell you, your vision is so limited. 

I begged my parents for a satellite dish to watch popular music in Spanish to keep up with my cousins. I didn’t want them to know the lyrics to the songs we loved better than I did. My parents did cave and got the satellite. It opened a window to today’s Mexico. 

It was a very out there thing that many of my fellow Latino friends didn’t even know about. I wasn’t in California or Texas, I was way up in Michigan, so this was quite groundbreaking!

-Esperanza Rubio Torres, Michigan

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