Joanne Swanson was born in Minnesota in 1922 to Swedish-American parents. She and her high school sweetheart, Earl, went to the University of Minnesota where he studied chemical engineering and she studied nursing. When the war broke out Earl joined the ROTC and Joanne trained to be an army nurse. Earl joined McArthur’s staff and lived in Japan for two years. When the war was over Earl returned to the U.S. and he and Joanne were married in Boston.
In 1948, Earl took a job with an American oil company in China, so they sailed from New York through the Panama Canal to Shanghai. In April of 1949 Joanne was evacuated with their baby son on the last Northwest airplane to leave China just before the Communist takeover. Earl got reassigned to the Philippines where their daughter was born and they lived for seven years. They were transferred to Okinawa where their second son was born in a 40-bed ward in an army Quonset hut during a typhoon. After two years they moved to Bangkok where Joanne started a puppet group with the American Women’s Club and took Thai language lessons. After nine years there and travelling all over Thailand, Laos and Burma, Earl was transferred to Singapore, which was a welcome relief after the primitive conditions in which they had been living in Thailand. Singapore was very British and everything worked; there were even water faucets and electricity! Joanne took Chinese cooking lessons from the Prime Minister’s mother, Mrs. Lee Chin Coon for about five years.
After six “wonderful” years there, Earl was transferred to Pakistan. While there they explored other places in the region, travelling to the Mohenjo-daro ruins and Afghanistan through the Khyber Pass. This is where Joanne learned how to cook the food we’re serving on our Mother of the Month (M.O.M.) menu. When her husband retired at age 50, Joanne and Earl moved to Honolulu and started a hardwood flooring company. After 18 years they moved to Portland to be near their youngest son and grandchildren. Joanne’s husband died 5 years ago, and although she lives alone, she still “cooks up a storm” as she “likes to eat well.” We enjoy eating well too, and that’s why we’re serving up some of her South Asian dishes this month!
crispy broccoli fritters, served with a side of raita (cucumber-yogurt sauce)
Lamb Korma Curry
slow-braised leg of lamb with onions, garlic, ginger, spices & yogurt,
served with steamed rice & crispy shallots
Eggplant Molee – roasted eggplant baked with onions, garlic, green chili peppers & coconut milk
Phool Gobi – North Indian cauliflower with potatoes, green peppers & spices
Tomato Bhath – tomato rice pilaf with garlic, onions, ginger, cilantro & spices,
topped with ghee (butter)-fried onions
Mascarpone & Saffron Rice Pudding
topped with candied pistachios