Don’t think for one minute that this post will share with you my culinary prowess. Not a chance. I am amazed at people that can just “whip something up” and actually cook meals.
There are three basic categories in my recipe repertoire: Red-gravy (for pasta and my baked ziti), Thanksgiving dinner sides (corn casserole, sausage stuffing) and Mom-Mom’s raisin bread.
I admire you Julia Child’s and Rachel Ray’s out there – you who lovingly prepare a meal and bless your family and friends with your artistry. I have eaten at your tables and applaud your gift.
I never met a home-cooked meal (or any meal for that matter) that I didn’t like. My hips don’t lie.
Strangely, despite my lack of culinary finesse, I have always had a fascination for RECIPES. I collect them, ripping them out of unsuspecting magazines with a fervor that would suggest I might actually make them. But I don’t. (This syndrome calls to mind a former roommate who would studiously watch Jane Fonda workout videos while eating a bag of Fritos.)
My love for recipes began in my grandmother’s kitchen. Mom-mom was always baking something wonderful – apple pies (and giving us grandkids mini-tarts with the leftover dough) and each Christmas, her amazing raisin bread. She was a free-wheeling baker, with flour dusting the entire kitchen (and our hair and noses) by the time she was done.
The smell that wafted through the entire house was nutmeg and sugar – and the feeling it gave? Tidings of comfort and joy.
When I was a young teenager, my propensity for hoarding recipes emerged and I asked Mom-mom if I could copy all of the “go-to” creations that lived in her Dutch-wonderland-style tin (see above photo).
I see my tweenage handwriting and smile these almost-40 years later. Doughnuts and meatloaf and Wheatie cookies and chicken croquettes – nope, never made them. I’ve since added my mother’s famous recipes – ricotta cookies, biscotti, pizza dolce. (Except for her sausage filling, I’ve never attempted her specialties either.)
But there’s something about that raisin bread. It struck me about 10 years ago that I wanted to carry on my grandmother’s tradition and send it out for all the world to eat. Well, if not the world, at least my immediate family and friends.
My Aunt Joan recently shared that the raisins should be soaked for a half hour to plump them first, then lightly coated with flour so that they don’t all drop to the bottom of the loaf. A decade of not pre-plumping the raisins! Who knew?
In truth, how can ANYTHING toasted and slathered with butter be bad?
When I first began this new tradition, I was anxious. After all, who could live up to Edna Hartsell’s amazing raisin bread?
Then I settled it: It wasn’t about how tasty the bread or perfect the loaf, but more about the love behind the gesture.
Which translates to every area of life. I may not be the next big thing, the brightest bulb or the best at many things.
But if what I do is “slathered with love” – how can it fail?
(Can you tell that “slathered” is one of my favorite words?)
FLUFFIs, may your day and your endeavors be slathered in love…and if you have a special holiday tradition or memory, please share!