There’s no denying that each of us has a mom to thank for something (most likely many things). Maybe it’s our eye color or certain personality traits. Maybe it’s the years of advice and countless lessons learned. Or the warmth and comfort of a cherished home. Or her tried-and-true recipes, for special occasions or “just because.” The truth is that who we are is thanks, in part, not just to our mom (or other motherly figures) but to the generations that came before her. Our heritage is years (decades and centuries) in the making—and is something to be celebrated.
So in honor of ALL the moms in our lives, past and present, we thought we’d ask a few members of the Martin family and others on the Martin’s employee team to share some of their cherished memories and family traditions revolving around their family’s matriarchs.
Lois Martin, co-founder of Martin’s Potato Rolls, loved learning and creating new things. She loved to knit all kinds of items like sweaters, scarves, mittens, and blankets for members of the family, as well as paint with water colors. She played several musical instruments, and she sang with her family and with a choir on the local radio station and at church events. She loved to learn new things and even took computer courses in her 70s! Of course, she was also an entrepreneur. She helped to transform a clover-leaf potato roll recipe from her great-aunt into the classic Martin’s Potato Roll we love today. Yet, she also loved to make up new recipes during holidays. Julie Martin recalls, “You never knew what to expect from Grandma—we might have a traditional meal or we might have Cajun gumbo for Christmas or some other quirky meal creation. She was always experimenting…but we always knew we’d have great bread and rolls on the table and lots of laughter.” One constant, however, was that gathering together, sharing meals, and spending time together always remained a focus for the Martin family. Jackie Martin recalls, “Grandma loved playing games; she would play games and take the kids fishing when they visited.” It’s clear that Lois made a lasting impact on her children and grandchildren as many of these family traditions are still evident today amongst new generations of the Martin family.
Julie Martin describes her family’s current Mother’s Day traditions this way:
For Mother’s Day, the Martin family tradition is to get together at my parents’ house after church. Often my dad goes out and picks up several buckets of fried chicken, mashed potatoes, salad, and other sides (enough to feed all 21-ish of us) so that no one has to cook or do dishes on Mother’s Day. Of course, there’s also a basket of fresh Martin’s Potato Rolls or Bread on the table with some butter, honey, and homemade jelly. The family has gotten quite large, so we all squish together in the dining room the best we can, but have recently had to start setting up a card table in the hallway as well. Occasionally, if the weather is especially nice, we’ll do a cookout with burgers instead, and then we’ll eat outside on the porch where we can all spread out. There’s lots of chatter and laughter during the meal… A quiet family we are not. These days we’ll often have a family member who can’t be with us but who “joins” us via someone’s phone or tablet…ah, modern technology. Then after the meal, we spend the afternoon together, playing ping pong, foosball, or other card or board games, and enjoying time outside if the weather is nice. We are very blessed to have three generations of Martins getting together to celebrate the amazing moms in our family!
– Julie Martin
Now, every family has its own unique story to tell—one full of memories and traditions passed down from generation to generation—and each is worth a listen. We asked some Martin’s employees about their cherished memories and special customs passed down from their matriarchs, and food always tends to play a huge part in family traditions.
Here are a few cherished memories from some Martin’s employees:
My mom is the youngest of eight siblings, so I come from a fairly large family. About 15 years ago, my mom compiled all of my grandmother’s old recipes—everything from her mother’s (my great-grandmother’s) handwritten recipes to the recipes she cut from food packages—into one large family cookbook. My mom also added recipes that our family had grown to love over the years (things like my aunt’s legendary cinnamon buns and my cousin’s namesake salad) for a total of 255 recipes.
At the time, she gave one to all her siblings and the married cousins. Now, every female cousin (or cousin-in-law) gets a copy of the large binder full of secret family recipes at her bridal shower, and it’s sort of a rite of passage. I remember when I received mine, I especially enjoyed looking through all the recipes that also had sentimental value. For example, my sister and I used to love baking pies at Grandma’s house when we were kids. And now, those same pie recipes are in the family cookbook, which brings back such good memories. It’s one of my favorite family traditions and definitely my most-used cookbook!
– Steph L.
Being from a pretty type-A structured and scheduled family, my grandmother’s food specialties list spans the entire year on a cycle. Beef and noodles and angel food cake for my mother’s birthday, fried chicken with “hunked and fried” potatoes, and ice cream roll cake for my uncle’s birthday, homemade chocolate Easter bunnies for Easter, and so on and so forth. Each year you can expect the same delicious meal staples for the major birthday gatherings and holidays. The truly special secret recipes are those that pop up somewhat randomly, like the surprise sticky bun delivery or the surprise peanut butter fudge that shows up at a summer picnic.
My cousins and I have started taking “classes” at my grandmother’s house, to try to learn how she creates some of her most-desired desserts. During the first class, peanut butter fudge making, we quickly learned how deceptive her recipe cards could be. The recipe called for a (handwritten) “heaping tablespoon of peanut butter.” Upon getting to this step, my grandmother used a serving spoon to pull a truly heaping scoop of peanut butter out of the jar, that visually looked to be somewhere in the realm of a ½ cup. Clearly that one would’ve been difficult to replicate from the recipe card.
Over time, I have taken “classes” on her sticky buns, famous lemonade, angel food cake (my personal favorite), and her donuts. It’s honestly a joy just to get to spend time with my grandparents and witness all the idiosyncrasies and tricks that go into making our favorite treats so special. Will any one of us ever be able to truly replicate any of our grandmother’s specialties? Probably not. But the memories we have made learning and trying to recreate them will be treasured for a lifetime.
– Katie H.
I am very traditional and sentimental. I treasure the legacy of strong, hardworking, and gifted women that have influenced my life. I have items such as lamps, spinning wheels, and tables in my home from my grandmothers, great-grandmothers, and even my great-great grandmother. To me these things represent the legacy they left and the life they led as they cared for their families. One of my favorite views is my assortment of quilts and crocheted blankets from these ladies that are hung together representing care and comfort from both of my parents’ families through the generations.
Of course my mom is the best and biggest influence on my life. She is a self-made successful woman, strong in her beliefs and incredibly talented. Since she retired she has really focused on her painting and her love for learning, especially through books and travel! She has always encouraged us to be curious and experience the world through travel whether it is a short day trip to a local state park, or a weekend trip to our cabin or discovering a world wonder like Niagara Falls. As I’ve gotten to travel more places with my mom in the past few years, we have been able to explore different cultures and cuisines. On our latest adventure to Egypt, we learned that we very much prefer American cheeseburgers over Egyptian food, but we also loved experiencing history through touring the ancient wonders of the world! We were even inside of a pyramid!
My mom has always made special occasions a little more special through her creativity. Wait, every day is a special occasion! A snow day was turned into a picnic with Spaghetti O’s in a thermos and hot chocolate; a Saturday was a celebration for a good report card with a ham hoagie (still my favorite food on a Martin’s Hoagie Roll!); a Wednesday afternoon was a mini vacation with a picnic lunch at the local lake; or a Tuesday night was “our time” with tuna sandwiches (made with mayonnaise and pickles) while watching Kojak before Dad came home from bowling. She taught us to sing, to pray, to cook, to use our creativity, to take care of each other, and to celebrate life. She always told us we can be anything we want to be, and she has helped us get there. But most of all, I think that we are blessed with our strong circle of family and that we have grown to be good people, just like Mom.
– Wendy C.
What special memories or food traditions do you have in your family? Are there any cherished recipes from Mom or Grandmom that are near and dear to your heart? We’d love to hear about them in the comments or on social media!
P.S. We know many people are not able to spend this Mother’s Day with their mom in person—either due to the current social distancing measures, or because she is no longer with them. So, here’s an idea: a great way to feel close to mom while at a distance is by giving her a call (or another family member if she has passed) and ask questions about her life. Record these memories in a journal to keep with you whenever you’re missing her—and to pass down to future generations so her story will never be forgotten.
Happy Mother’s Day!
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