A BAKER’S DOZEN
I visit my Aunt Alice a couple times a week. This week’s subject: cooking. After binging on rippled potato chips and cashews, I asked if she still has a recipe box. Recipe boxes were a household staple in my Grandmother’s day. Today, we just google everything but I’m hungry for real lemon meringue pie from scratch, homemade buttermilk biscuits made from lard, Mrs. McNiece’s cookies. No relation but these refrigerator cookies are buttery, nutty nirvana.
I walk into the kitchen and reach for not one but two brown, wooden recipe boxes. One is simple and one is embossed with a popular beer logo. Hint: Clydesdales.
I sit on her beige and blue floral couch,my heart races,I wrap my shoulders with a quilt, and time travel diving deep into the tattered, oily, stained index cards. There it meets my eye: Lemon Meringue pie.
I’m transported. I remember my Mom teaching me how to separate the egg yolks and whites. Crack the egg against the edge of the bowl, lightly shuffle the yolk from shell to shell as the whites collect separately. Then, the labor of meringue. Like a doula, my mother teaches me each step to cook anything from Spanikopita to baklava to shrimp fried rice. How phyllo dough like thin parchment dries out quickly. A deft hand and time matter. How to respect a knife: butcher or paring or butter. Cut away from yourself. Be steady. Find your balance. Mince. Dice. Chop. Slice. How to measure liquids versus dry ingredients. How to make simple quacamole. Slice the avocado in half lengthwise, slip your thumb between the green skin and flesh, and remove the skin. Save the pit to germinate your own tree. So many lessons. We never could grow our own avocados, but those early, tender moments between mother and child are gifts.
By the way, whipping egg whites into meringue is a great upper body workout or way to keep your kids busy and active.
Be your own chef. Maybe you google your recipes in this 21st Century. Do what works for you. Teach your children well. They will thank you later.