All posts by peacocksbookswritingsandrecipes

My grandfather, Anastasios Kavadas, born March 3, 1893 in Vathi, Lefkado Greece, came to America for the first time at the age of 14 as a stowaway. After a short time, he returned to Greece. Later on he came back to America on the TSS Themistocles from the Port of Patras. The ship landed at Ellis Island February 24, 1912. He simplified his name to Thomas Robert, and eventually made his way to Dixon, Illinois. Grandpa operated Tom's Shoe Shop in Dixon before he became a restaurateur. He owned several restaurants, two of which were the Chuckwagon and Villa Cafe. His baked chicken was the best. People would come from Lasalle and Peru Illinois on a Friday night just to eat his fish fry. My family are all into fishing for fresh fish still today. I loved the Chuckwagon, which was directly across from the train depot. My mom and us kids lived above the restaurant where Grandpa Tom gave her a job as a cook.Today they would have been called, chefs.The restaurant was my playground. Even though I was only about nine, I loved serving the customers and eating special foods my grandpa prepared for me. In the back was a special butcher shop where they prepared all their own meats. Food hasn't tasted the same since he passed away. One of the favorite special drinks Grandpa made for the grandkids was Nesbitt Orange Grapette sodas. I can't imagine drinking that now.

Mushroom Hunting Tips

In the Midwest, morel mushrooms can be found in late April to mid-May. Morels are known as an early spring mushroom.

May 12, 1990 in Oregon, Illinois, a man found a giant Morel weight two pounds, measuring eleven and one-half inches and had a circumference of seven and one-half inches.

They say that a heavy snow fall will produce a great season. Most likely due to all the moisture the snow brings. Morels like a cold-snap after it has been warm for a few days. You need a few 70 degree days with a low in the 50’s at night; followed by a cold-snap and then warm weather again.

The morel mushrooms tend to grow around old apple orchards and dead elm trees and logs. Old stumps and fallen trees are a popular growing spot along with living white ash and maple trees.

When you see redbud trees beginning to bloom, the oak leaves just opening, and May apple plants popping up in the woods, it is time to put on your hiking boots, get out the Deep Woods Off, put on long pants and long sleeved shirts to protect you from the poison ivy and prickly bushes.

Make sure you bring a compass or your GPS, a walking-stick to move the twigs, water and healthy snack, and a mesh or cloth bag for your treasured morels. Don’t use a plastic bag.

For the beginner, know your trees before you take your trek in the woods and always go with an experienced hunter. There are dangerous plants and fungi that can be lethal.

When you spot your morels, be gentle and clip or break them off so they will continue to grow for years.

Now go back to your campsite and prepare your treasure with plenty of butter.

Tidbit: This article is dedicated to my mother, Dorothy, Aunt Vi, and Aunt Jeanann who taught me how to hunt mushrooms from the age of three. And don’t smoke in the woods!

The Orphan Brigade

The Orphan Brigade was the name given to a group of military units from Kentucky to fight for the Confederate states.

The photo is of Johnny cakes cooked on a shovel. Purchase History Lover’s Cookbook to find out interesting anecdotes, nineteenth century recipes, view beautiful photos, and learn more about the history of the Civil War. Check out the book on Amazon to find out what Foreword Clarion Reviews had to say.

Faded Memories by Roxe Anne Peacock

Memories are created in happy times and bad
Remembering is a gift as well as communication,

When the thoughts fade away
There isn't the knowledge to say,

Please comfort me in this loss of time
To ask you to hold me, sit by my side
While I slowly die inside,

You may put me in a nursing home
Please don't come and watch me
I would rather be left alone,

For I won't remember you
Or my beloved family and home,

I don't want the burden to be yours
It should be mine alone.

Dedicated to all who have known or been affected by family or friends with Alzheimer's or dementia.

Love at First Glance

He sat on the dock watching the sunset descend behind the tall pine trees across the lake. Waves slapped the dock as boats passed by, creating a slight breeze.

It had been forty-seven years ago today that he had proposed to his wife, Maureen. She had spread out a red and white checkered tablecloth, two wine glasses, napkins, and plates from her wicker picnic basket. Sal could smell the feast she had prepared before she set it before him: fried chicken, cole slaw, biscuits, homemade jam, and her prize winning fresh baked peach pie.

The first time Sal met Maureen was at the spring dance. She was dancing with another local boy from the county. Her smile lit up the room. All eyes were upon the couple on the dance floor, including his. Her auburn hair cascaded over her shoulders, swaying as the couple moved to the music. Then she turned toward him, her hazel eyes sparkling, giving him a quick nod. He hadn’t planned on dancing, but he wasn’t going to let this gal go. He knew from the moment his eyes met hers, she would be his forever. It was love at first sight.

The couple spent every free hour together for the next two weeks. Sal was mesmerized by her every word, move. Even though they hadn’t been together long, he knew they would spend a lifetime together. He asked her father if he could have Maureen’s hand in marriage.

The next year, they had their first of three children and couldn’t be happier. Sal had a great job at the local sawmill and they were building their first home. Maureen would  be at the front door waiting for him to return from work each night, giving him a kiss before he entered. When he walked through the door, the aromas of a home cooked meal filled his heart knowing they were cooked with love.

Their life together was filled with family, three wonderful children and grandkids. Sal had retired a few years back. The days were now spent rocking in their chairs on the front porch watching vehicles drive past. It was difficult going to town, the children’s homes, or to the diner. Maureen could no longer cook meals. Her memory had been fading slowly and was now to the point where she didn’t know who Sal was most days. It wouldn’t be long before he could no longer care for her properly. She would have to be placed in the local nursing home.

Sal would go to the nursing home each day and sit by Maureen’s side, holding her hand when she would let him. Often, she thought he was a doctor or another patient. She didn’t know the kids anymore. Then cancer struck. It wasn’t long before she passed. They had a discussion about how each wanted to be buried or cremated many years prior. Sal honored her wishes.

He continued watching the sunset for a bit longer, still reminiscing. He poured himself a glass of red wine and watched a young couple row a boat toward him, laughing and smiling at each other. Sal reached into the picnic basket and gently lifted out the urn. Tears flowed down his cheeks as he kissed the outside, opened the lid, and let the ashes slide out into the lake. He whispered, “It won’t be long now before we are together again my sweet love.”


Roxe Anne Peacock

This story is dedicated to all who have been affected by a loved one with this debilitating disease. My grandmother, all her siblings, cousins, and her children, including my mother, Dorothy, had Alzheimer’s. I have one aunt still living in a nursing home. It is a difficult time for all watching her go through this disease.