Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Slice of Life: The Recipe Box


Today's post is part of the Slice of Life roundup at Two Writing Teachers.  Stop by for links to many great slices or, better yet, join the fun by linking your own piece.  Thanks to all for hosting.

I don't really know where pot pie came from.  Was it a recipe with its roots in the kitchens of the Pennsylvania Dutch?  Has it been adapted from the German bot boi recipes?  Was it a recipe used in kitchens during the depression when eggs may have been harder to find?  I'm really not sure.  I'm not even sure it matters.  In my mind, pot pie always came from Grandma's kitchen.

What I do know is, as a child, I could always count on having pot pie when I visited my grandma.   The smells from my grandma's kitchen greeted us as soon as we climbed the cement steps to her house.  She'd open the door and we would be immediately enveloped in the love of her kitchen as she wrapped her arms around each of us.

Grandma would make pot pie - my favorite dish - for family dinners, week visits, and over the holidays.  Mixing flour, shortening, salt, and a little baking powder, Grandma would magically create thick noodle-like squares to toss into a pot of boiling beef broth.  She'd add leftover beef, make some mashed potatoes, cook a few sides and dinner would be served.

Just before I got married my grandma gave me a tan plastic box containing contents too valuable to measure.  I still remember looking inside to find her carefully scripted recipes I had grown to love over the years.  Alphabetized meticulously, the box contained recipes for cheese potatoes, ham loaf, date pinwheel cookies, strawberry salad, sugar cream pie, and many other dishes Grandma would prepare with love in her kitchen for family gatherings.  And of course, the box contained the recipe for pot pie, a dumpling-like noodle made with a recipe similar to the recipe used for pie crusts.

I remember looking at that box and thinking how thoughtful the gift was.  I was touched by the care given to prepare each of these cards.  What I didn't realize then was that each year that box would become more and more treasured.  What I didn't know was how many times I would reach into my kitchen cupboard and feel that she was standing right beside me telling me to add a pinch of this or a dash of that.

Tonight I came home from a long day of writing student learning objectives, preparing science units, and learning with first graders to prepare dinner.  I reached into the cupboard near the oven, grabbed the recipe box, and looked for the card quite worn from use.  Mixing flour, shortening, salt and a little baking powder, I carefully made thick noodle-like squares to throw into the pot of boiling beef broth.  As the smells of my grandma's kitchen began to fill my house I smiled to myself.  Sometimes someone breathes so much life into a moment that it carries across days, seasons, and years.  Sometimes memories sit so firmly in our hearts that they bring us joy when we least expect it.  


11 comments:

  1. I have some of those cards too, Cathy. The smells do bring it all back! Love hearing your memory.

    ReplyDelete
  2. It made me teary. My favorite line..."Sometimes someone breathes so much life into a moment that it carries across days, seasons, and years."

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Sometimes memories sit so firmly in our hearts that they bring us joy when we least expect it." That is a powerful closing. I was teary and then the flood gates opened.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for sharing this memory. It is amazing how walking in the footsteps of family can bring back important memories.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Cathy, your grandma loved you so much and you have captured that love in sharing this story.. My eyes are full of tears, but my heart is also full of wonderful memories. My mom is smiling down on you.. Your gift with words continues to totally amaze me.. I love you!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Truly a precious gift she gave you, and you have shared that gift with the world through your writing. I could feel the warmth of the hug throughout. Mmmmm, nothing better than pot pie.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Beautiful memories. Thanks for sharing. It was great the way you pondered the origin of pot pie and then revealed the true origin for you.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Cathy, I loved reading about your memories of your grandmother and her recipes. Thanks for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  9. What a splendid gift, filled with love, your grandmother gave you! How lucky you are to have those recipes preserved in that way.

    My grandmother wasn't much of a cook. I only have one of her recipes, which we affectionately nicknamed "Bubbe's Brisket from Brighton Beach, Brooklyn." Whenever I make it I feel like a little girl back in my grandparents' condo. It's amazing how smells can bring us right back to special places & special times.

    ReplyDelete
  10. You have unleashed everyone's memories and salivary glands it seems, dear friend! I guess I'll have to stop & buy some buttermilk tomorrow to make my grandma's biscuits. I had many a middle school friend who I suspect came to my house purely for that particular after school snack. Beautiful piece...thank you for sharing!

    ReplyDelete
  11. I love this post. We have a box of recipes just like yours in our house, and it's a magic box, too - delicious food, loving memories.

    ReplyDelete