Broccoli Chowder… And Big Moves

Ok… this was surprising. I never tasted Mamaw’s chowder. I’m not much for chowder. It’s a texture thing. Actually, this is more of a soup. There is no whisking of flour involved. Honestly, I figured this would be one that I make, taste for the blog and put in the freezer until I find someone here in Austin who likes broccoli soup to give it to. Except I don’t know many people here… so… it might have sat in there for a hot minute. If I were in Jax, I could have passed it right to Aunt Sharon, who (strangely) likes broccoli more than anyone I’ve ever met! But then, I realized that Mamaw hadn’t written any instructions at all, just a list of ingredients. So, I checked my cookbooks that Billy says I never use. (Pinterest has taken their place I am ashamed to admit, but I’m trying to bring them back into circulation!) No luck. Pinterest it is! Pinterest seriously makes everything look good! I kept scrolling through pics and recipes of broccoli cheese soups and chowders until it actually started appealing to me! By the time I was finished, I was excited to try it! And y’all, it really was good! Billy liked it too! He actually said that it reminded him of something he ate while visiting France! What?! I’ll take that compliment!

Before we get into that though… It’s no secret how difficult moving across the country has been for us. I feel the sacrifice constantly. Leaving our home in Jacksonville and trying to make this new house and new town feel like home has not been easy. But one thing that has been a comfort is thinking of my Mamaw as a young, new mother. I’m not so young… but I am new to being a mother and I feel a connection to her at that time in her life. As a pastor’s wife, she had to move around often. They would break ground on new churches or be sent to smaller struggling churches to help them back on their feet. They moved around Florida and even went so far as Kentucky. Wherever they went, I imagine her efforts in creating a home. I can see her hanging curtains, scrubbing the place down, spreading her tablecloth, unpacking her dishes. I wonder if her heart felt as sad as mine at the thought of friends too far away. Almost every box I have opened has held inside it the memory of someone dear who helped me pack it up. How blessed we were with the help of friends and family. I miss them tremendously.

In all my imagining, trying to connect with the memory of her while setting up house, trying to envision the young Lucile that I never actually knew, I decided to contact her first born, my father to get some facts to paint my picture. And so, now I have a clearer picture of what her homemaking looked like back in the 1950’s and I hope you find it as fascinating as I do.

“Evangelizing Ferndale”

Here’s the story… Lindsey (my Pa) was an evangelist when Dale (my daddy) was a baby. Their home base was Grandmama’s house (Lucile’s mama) in Center Hill, FL. When in revival, they would stay in the church parsonages with the pastors. Having a young child myself, I know my father is right by saying it was “hard on everybody.” And so they made the switch from evangelists to pastors when their son was 8 months old. Pa became the pastor at Fort White Church of God. The parsonage was an old shotgun style house with no running water, NO RUNNING WATER, y’all! She would bathe her baby boy on the kitchen table in a #3 wash tub. Their water source was a pitcher pump on the back porch. Their bathroom was an outhouse. So that means… that I’m complaining about there not being quite enough hot water to fill my garden tub and the fact that my shower was built for tall people and I struggle to get my hair washed… but she was pumping water for bathing, cooking, cleaning AND toting an 8 month old (that means mobile) baby into an outhouse with her when she needed to use the restroom… ok. Perspective. They lived there for 2 years.

After that, Pa became the pastor in Lacoochee, a small mill town that had more saloons than churches. Both the church and the parsonage were old wooden framed buildings with sagging roofs. The parsonage was an old cracker style house with a big front porch. It was there, as a 3 year old that young Dale’s hair started falling out by the handfuls. A concerned Lucile took him to the doctor and she was told it was caused by anxiety… he was in fact a fearful, nervous child. As I dug through albums for this post I began to wonder what could have made him such a nervous child… The mind does reel! ? ?But seriously, although in time his hair grew back, (he has a thick head of hair to this day), I know that it must have cut deeply into her mama heart watching her child struggle so. And see this part of the story was less encouraging to me than the water pump. Why? It caused me to feel a little bit sorry for myself. It reminded me of that gaping hole in my life. The one where there is no mother or grandmother to call up when my own mama heart is hurting. I wish I could have called her as my sweet two year old struggled with his own anxious heart during the throes of this move. I watched as he displayed behaviors I’ve never seen in him. Tantrums that were the result of honest fear, refusal to leave the house even to step outside, clinging to myself and Billy, his face lacking in the glow that comes about when a friend or family member shows up at our door. I have missed so many things about his nature. They are slowly returning to him, but what a comfort it would have been to call my sweet Mamaw and hear her knowingly say “I’ve been there. It really will be ok. You’ll see that baby come back to himself.” Let me get a tissue… Anyway… God sent a tremendous revival to that community while they were there and the church grew from around 35 people to around 180. Pa even built a new cement block church building in the two years he pastored there. So much purpose in their journeying!

I’ll stop here for now as I feel satisfied in having a fuller picture of what it meant for her as a homemaker and pastor’s wife to follow the leading of Jesus with her family. And maybe this week, I’ll find a new appreciation of how comfortable my little rental home is. Even if it is a million miles from familiarity.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup (She called it chowder but there is no flour whisking.)

1 10 oz package of frozen chopped broccoli
1 medium onion chopped (I used onion flakes because I don’t care for onions)
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 cup milk (or cream)
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/8 t Pepper

If you’re using real onions, sauté those first in butter until soft.
Add the cream of chicken soup and the broccoli.
Blend or mash until the broccoli is to your desired consistency. Add milk, cheese, and pepper. Bring to a soft boil and then simmer. Serve hot.

I served alongside of baked potatos and it was the perfect match! Garnish with extra cheese if desired. So simple. So good. Enjoy!

P.S. I need to make sure that I’m giving appropriate credit to my daddy, Dale Croft. I wouldn’t be able to write their story without him taking his precious time to share memories and facts with me!