There is something very satisfying about starting with a few simple ingredients and turning it into something to nourish and something to be enjoyed by the ones you love.
As I look over my right shoulder I have a small shelving unit in my dining room. The top is reserved for Miss Dog's assorted foods, treats, and other paraphernalia. The bottom shelf is taken up by my pressure cooker and my spare decanter for my coffee pot-goodness knows it would be a state emergency if my coffee pot were to break! The middle shelf is filled to the brim with different cookbooks. There are diet cookbooks (South Beach, Weight Watchers) there are grocery store cookbooks, fundraising cookbooks and old standards like Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens. Next to that shelving unit is a big basket filled to overflowing with Taste of Home and Quick Cooking magazines. But the most special cookbook in my home and in my heart is a three ring binder with family recipes lovingly produced by my mother for us girls for Christmas in 1990. Mom introduces the cookbook by telling us that her thought was to share the family recipes with us and when she undertook the project she realized that there were several family members who she had no recipes from. She got on the phone with our grandmothers and reached out to the great aunts to get recipes from past generations. As she says in the introduction; what began as a cookbook became a gift of our heritage. Interspersed with the recipes are funny and touching stories of our family that we may never have known if not for this gift.
I don't know about my sisters but in the 19 years that we have had this book I have used it to death. In fact- this is my second copy. The first one, which was used from the time I recieved it until after we left Massachusetts was marked with notes and spatters of different things we had made over the years. When we were packing up our life to move it to this new adventure my son, Joshua, asked me for the cookbook. I couldn't let it go. He hid it several times hoping I wouldn't find it, but I always did. After we got out here, I told my mom about the battle over her cookbook and she gave me a new copy. I added a note to Josh and sent him the original for our first Christmas apart in his life. He tells me that he actually cried when he received it and it warms my heart to know that I have given him a part of his family that he has never met.
When I open the pages, even knowing the exact recipe that I want, I can't help but page through looking for tidbits about my family members. I see the different recipes and notes I can't help but feel a connection to the women that came before me. Many of them, including my very beloved Granny, are gone now but when I stand at the stove frying chicken the way she did or making my husband's favorite German Potato Salad that was from my Granny's recipe I can hear her voice in my head talking me through it and I can feel the love that we shared surrounding me.
I have thanked her several times for The Cookbook but I don't know that my mother will ever know the depth of my gratitude for the gift that she has given me. I have to include my dad here. As my mom said in a postscript in her introduction, Dad missed many meals and spent many hours at the copy machine helping her to put this together for us. I can vividly picture the two of them working together to make this happen. I appreciate all of the time, the hard work and the love that went into this cookbook and only hope that when Josh uses it over the years, he can feel it as well.