all of the selves we Have ever been
The Ohio Governor is not hosting
a news conference today.
During this pandemic, my schedule of limited, stay-at-home activities centers on that daily 2:00 PM broadcast. Knowing there will be no update today, I realize I have an entire day off. What to do?
The sun is shining. That’s a big plus. I open the window and a strong gust of wind pushes in like a busy toddler. It blows a coaster off a tabletop, turns back the cover of a magazine, and scatters a pile of papers onto the floor. I sit on the couch and try to read, but the lively breeze says, “PLAY!”
Dull from spending so much time alone at my desk, I decide that I do need to MOVE. I reach a decision to initiate a new daily routine. I will go from room to room and tidy up all of the things I’ve been meaning to get to, but I will do it without any pressure or specific time table.
I start with the kitchen. I open the first cabinet door and spy a dilapidated old two-pocket folder. The outside of the folder is decorated with images of the great baseballs stars of yesteryear. I think back to the day my son and I purchased this folder for a third grade class. The inside pockets are stuffed with recipes. Most are pages torn from old magazines, some are handwritten by me on pieces of scrap paper or sticky notes, and a few are in the neat handwriting of old friends. I study the familiar penmanship that brings the faces of these friends into view. I look at those recipes and remember the parties, the birthdays and the bridal showers that led to the sharing of the recipes. I remember how much I relish the sight of the distinctive handwriting of people I love.
As I page through the contents of the folder, I notice that a number of the recipes were clipped from old magazines. Many are more than 40 years old. There are recipes saved from a time when I was a teenager dreaming of living on my own one day. I study the now dated product packaging pictured in the accompanying ads. It brings to mind another time and other kitchens. I see myself back there and remember the dreams I once had.
Perhaps one of my dreams was to be a sculptor. My medium? Rice Krispies and marshmallows. There are several different sets of instructions for transforming the sticky goo into pink hearts with sprinkles, wreaths with gumdrops and licorice ribbons , stars on sticks, footballs, and little baskets. There is also a play-doh recipe that includes Kool-Aid as an ingredient. Ah, that dough occupied a lot of hours for me and for my children.
Some recipes have no titles or identification. The instructions are incomplete. I have to study the notes hastily scrawled on sticky notes and bits of recycled paper and napkins. Oh, that one must be for turkey burgers. And here’s how to make a substitute for Worcestershire sauce which I rarely have.
In the first pocket of the folder is a college-ruled notebook with a tattered red cover and rusted metal spiral. Inside are yellowed pages. My youthful handwriting is there in bright blue ink. I carefully turn the pages. I see recipes written in my own hand, recipes captured on a few rare days when I followed my Aunt Lillie or my Aunt Gen around the kitchen and recorded some of the family recipes they knew by heart. Some of the pages contain recipes copied from a favorite Good Housekeeping cookbook that was the master reference in my mother’s kitchen, the book that taught me how to cook.
The notebook contains recipes for things once popular that I haven’t eaten or thought about in years. There are the cheese balls and liverwurst balls popular back in the day when my mom took her turn hosting card club. I remember the excitement of setting up those folding tables and chairs and laying out the spread of sophisticated adult snacks. I find the family recipe for grape leaves and Bishop’s Bread.
Behind the notebook, my son’s favorite meal appears inside a plastic sleeve--chicken and cheese enchiladas. The ad says “M’m, M’m Good!” A little deeper in the pile is the chocolate mint brownie recipe that won my sixth grade daughter a blue ribbon in the annual Girl Scout bake-off.
In the second pocket, right on top, is the must-have strawberry Jello dish that delights the extended family. We don’t know if it is a salad or a dessert, but it is a requirement at every gathering no matter the season. There is something so satisfying about the delicious blend of tart and sweet and salty, crunchy and creamy. I look forward to making this once again when my family gathers to celebrate the end of the pandemic.
I review each page, each sticky note, each napkin. I clip the rough edges and smooth out the wrinkles. I place each recipe in a protective plastic sleeve and organize it all into a binder. I give those recipes the honor they deserve for their lifetime of service. I tuck a note inside that that says, “These recipes were lovingly reviewed, collected and preserved on March 29th during the great COVID-19 epidemic of 2020.”
This binder contains not just recipes, but important history. And now it is a gift to the future, for a time when my children and grandchildren get hungry, hungry for their youth, hungry for the old days, and hungry for me.
3/30/2020 09:32:55 am
Just got me motivated to work on my recipe box.
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