September 8, 2011. Tonight I wanted a recipe to include garlic, olive oil, and broccoli, and thought to call my mom for suggestions. Then refrained. I knew her response. “Search the Internet.” And I missed that ol’ recipe box, with the worn hinges, and packed-in 3″x5″ cards that had handwritten recipes and vanilla-extract and oil stains.
I grew up a finicky eater, and the most calamitous cook among five siblings. Yet I’d always bellied up ravenously to favorites like Grandma’s delicious cream soups and Mom’s homemade chili. ‘Twas during college days I began to love the art of cooking, and I oft called home for beloved recipes.
For cooking or for baking, whether Mom or Dad answered the phone, they were able to reference my request and read it to me. I envisioned the recipe cards they held, and my mom’s handwriting.
Over the years they read recipes for chili, pasta salads, cakes and cookies, spaghetti sauce, and hotdishes — as we say in Minnesota; folks outside the state call them casseroles.
I jotted the recipes on scraps of paper. During more organized times, I tapped them into a computer file — and saved them on computers that eventually crashed.
One time Mom suggested a cream of green bean soup recipe, that I didn’t take down. As much as my palate had evolved to be open for new tastes, I was still finicky about green beans.
Sometimes Mom read recipes then shared twists she made. I added twists of my own. Yet there was comfort in the base “family recipe.”
Comfort I didn’t appreciate till lately. Somewhere in the whir of my needing recipes, Mom no longer referenced the recipe box to find the card that may or may not have been in place.
“Go online and I’m sure you’ll find a recipe,” became her response. She was right. I could find recipes there. An infinite amount. Yet I had to link through several references to seek recipes I might like.
Last time I talked to Mom, I recalled Grandma’s homemade cream soups. I could actually taste them, like a dream. “Do you have Grandma’s soup recipes?” I asked.
“No,” Mom replied. “But you can go online …”
Yes, yes, I thought, I could go online to find soup recipes, yet not Grandma’s soup recipes. Would I ever taste Grandma’s soup again?
I wonder if Mom still has that recipe box. The one she doesn’t refer to anymore. If so, I’ll ask her to send it to me.
And all the base recipes that I grew up on, will be at my fingertips. Maybe even the cream of green bean soup. Perhaps it’s one Mom had jotted down while Grandma recited it, and holds the secret behind all Grandma’s delicious cream soups.