Mom finally came through with that family cookbook she had been promising. The coveted book was finally in my hot little hands. A one-and-a-half inch binder with an obnoxious purple leopard print cover, it was full of answers to my culinary questions and the magic gateway to turning my kitchen into a version of hers. Without wasting a minute I sat down to flip through the contents.
Initially I turned the pages rapidly looking for my favorites. Junk Meat, the go-to roast she made almost weekly. Decorator’s Icing, the secret to the hundreds of cakes she sold out of our little farmhouse kitchen. However, it was not long before I slowed down and lingered on each page as every recipe suddenly brought a flood of memories with it.
I was transformed into that little brown haired, blue eyed, freckle faced girl sitting in our 1970’s kitchen. I smelled the sweetness from her most recent cake order and mingling in there somewhere was a little hint of savory left over from dinner. That night it was a quick fix of seasoned and baked hamburger patties with canned green beans from our garden and mashed potatoes. Always potatoes. They made a nightly appearance per my Dad’s request.
The orange and yellow floral vinyl floor was speckled with crumbs and the goldenrod countertops cluttered. A Kitchen Aid Mixer and small black and white T.V. droned in the background and it was my sister’s turn to clear the table and run the dishwasher. She chatted on the phone with a cord so long you could nearly reach half of the house. I sat at the table in the kitchen doing school work as Mom maneuvered around easily and efficiently, pausing at times to look over my shoulder or quiz me on a spelling word. I was stuffed, but the little bits of cake left over from trimming petit fours littered the tray beside me and I nibbled along.
Snapping me back into reality was my baby banging on his highchair signaling me for more Cheerios. I quickly obliged then took a moment and looked at my own kitchen. The counters were cluttered, the air warm, and the gorgeous smell of dinner wafted throughout the house. Italian meatballs lined the cooling rack for freezing later. The little (color) T.V. blinked in the background and I noted how similar my childhood kitchen and this kitchen felt.
It was then I came to the realization I am now the keeper of the book. The carrier of the torch, if you will. The connection I had with my mother in that farmhouse resonated here and extended to this smiling baby. I am the person, and this is the kitchen that my children will remember. I have the ability to shape their memories, all the while taking a journey through mine with this cookbook. Not only will I will add their favorite recipes to that purple leopard binder, I will take the time to write down my stories and memories of the dishes that mean the most to me. Since we have transitioned from the long telephone cord of my childhood to the current digital age I have the ability to share this with you, too.