Monday, March 7, 2011

Cooking Up A Cure

As I type this, Mister Man is upstairs in his room, I hope sleeping. He came home from school today crying, insisting that he had strep throat. Since he's only claimed this once before - the second time in his life that he had strep - I sighed and felt his forehead. With the evidence of a fever in front of me, I called the doctor and we soon verified that he did, indeed, have strep.

Tomorrow is not going to be the day I'd planned, but that's ok. Mister Man will be home sick with me, sad that he's missing out on school and miserable with his sore throat.

Just as my mom did with me when I was sick, Mister Man and I will cook and bake together. He'll have his choice of recipes to make - but I'm pretty sure I already know what he'll choose. Expect to smell pancakes and cookies coming from my house by mid day.

With my mom, our go to recipe was chocolate chip cookies. I learned to break eggs younger than I have memories. My first memory of breaking eggs was of my sister and I arguing over who got to break the egg first. Fortunately for my mom, chocolate chip cookies - at least our recipe - requires two eggs, minimizing the arguing.

It's still easy for me to bring to mind the recipe without so much as peeking at the back of the bag of chocolate chips. I know that my butter goes in first, followed by three quarters of a cup each of brown and granulated sugar, and one teaspoon of vanilla. I can see the texture of each step and taste it on my tongue just thinking of making the dough I so often created with my mom.

As I grew older and my mom wasn't in the house watching over me as often, I made the cookies on my own when I needed a break or needed to relieve some stress or to feel better. It was my tie to my family and to knowing that someone was there for me.

I still use this today. My grandmother's recipe for thumbprint cookies? There are days when I miss her so acutely, when I think of all she's missing not knowing the wee ones or being around to eavesdrop at restaurants and it just gnaws at me. Those cookies bring her back to me, and I smile through my pain, remembering the times we stood side by side making them together.

Bunsteads are my dad's family's New Years. Marguerite Salad is Thanksgiving and Christmas. Biscuits are made for special dinners. Food is the tradition in my family that binds us together. I'm trying my best to pass that along to the wee ones, giving them the same sense of comfort and love that I got my from family and the time we spent together.

Already, the wee ones can peel a mango by themselves - albeit less efficiently and less quickly than I can. They know the order of ingredients that go into several dishes. They're learning how to make bread and pasta sauce, and they can't wait until they cook their first meal by themselves.

And yes, both wee ones can break an egg by themselves. Mister Man's already working on his one-handed technique, although that may be awhile in coming.

This post was inspired by the book Mr. Rosenblum Dreams in English, this month's selection for the From Left To Write book club where we write a post inspired by the book rather than a traditional book review. I received a copy of the book for the purpose of writing this post. There is no compensation involved, and all opinions expressed are my own.

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  1. Food is an amazing memory holder, isn't it?

  2. Your kids will have wonderful memories of cooking with you, and also they'll be good cooks! Kudos to you.

  3. So jealous of your food making memories! My mother cooked for us to live so I never got much from her!

    I definitely am more adventurous than my mom. Due to being chronically ill, I am limited in my strength to cook or bake, so the most homey I get is chocolate chip cookie mix that you just have to add an egg to and some other ingredient that I forget!

    It still makes my son happy though!

  4. I love this post. Cooking and food are such a powerful connection to our family because its what we've known all our lives. I can feel how much you miss your grandmother in your words.

    Fantastic writing!

  5. I also loved the Sadie parts of the story with the nostaglic cooking. To be, the traditional foods are a huge part of my Jewish identity.

  6. Susie - Food is a great memory. And it isn't just easting it, but the smells and the conversations and the fun and challenges making it.

    Pat - I hope so. I know they enjoy it. I love watching them go running for the stools to pull up to help.

    Emily - As long as you're spending time, it really doesn't matter how you're doing it. Cooking it just one of my ways.

    Patty - It is, and I know you've written some about it, too. I do miss my Gram. A lot.

    Emily - I can so imagine. And I want to make that cake she was talking about - though I wouldn't mix it with my feet!

  7. Whenever we were sick my mom would make chicken soup. Even as an adult, living downtown, she would buy all the ingredients, grab her pot, and come down to make it for me. (Much to my roommate's delight.)

    Now I've learned to make her cure-all soup and it's expected any time anyone in our house has the slightest sniffle. I love that we already have this tradition.

    I have many of the same feelings regarding food when it comes to my own childhood, family memories, and tradition. I really treasure them... Even if they're just for a cold.

  8. My Gram & I used to bake when I was sick too. Makes me miss her something fierce. Sigh.

  9. Most of my earliest cooking memories take place in my grandmother's kitchen. I can still conjure up the smell of her angel biscuits when I miss her the most.

  10. yum - this post makes me want to run downstairs (from my office) and bake and bake and bake.

  11. I use my grandmother's cook book (which inspired Sadie's recipes in the novel) and even though I never met her, I feel that I know her through the family recipes. I hope my Baumtorte tastes like hers...

  12. Lisa - That is wonderful... and such a good idea. With Mister Man home sick with strep right now, I have chicken stock I made frozen, so now I know what I'm doing for him for dinner!

    Heather - Aww, I love those traditions though.

    Tara - What are angel biscuits? They sound - ahem - heavenly!

    AwwwTrouble - So go bake! Just do a bar recipe or something so you can toss it in the oven and not have to worry about batching.

    Natasha - I love that you have your grandmother's cookbook. Mine didn't pass one down, but I saved some recipes that I asked her for directly. I love that you have that connection through the generations, and I REALLY want to try a Baumtorte. Can you share the recipe? :)

  13. This was really nice to read. I'm going to link it up tonight :)

  14. My uncle put together a cookbook of my grandmother's recipes and made copies for all of us. I love love love that cookbook. Brings me comfort even though she's gone.

  15. I never really took part in cooking or baking when I was growing up. Although I did my share of eating the cookies that were made. And chocolate chip is just the best. You have some fond memories, and the great thing is that you're passing along the tradition to yours.

    P.S. I still can't break an egg without making a mess.

  16. Such a lovely post Michelle. Food and love go hand in hand.

  17. Mrs4444 - Aww, you're so sweet! Thanks for linking me!

    Kimberly - That is an incredibly thoughtful and perfect gift. I have only a few recipe that my forbearers used. With a generation between me and them, a lot of it has been lost.

    Matty - Aha! See, that just goes to show you need to work on making more cookies now, right?

    Kelly - They really do, at least in my family (if you can't tell)!

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