Miraculously, everything I ordered online has arrived (last one skidded in yesterday) and is wrapped. I’ve reached the stage where I’ve already forgotten what the heck is in all those packages under the tree; I’ll be as surprised as everyone else.
Now I’m at the part where I start gathering dishes and platters, deciding what will be put in which, and given the limited space in our condo, it’s getting a little challenging. So, before I spiral off into an OCD frenzy of tiny details, I decided to take a break and reflect on something I was thinking about the other day.
As I was making my impossibly rich – and fattening – brownie recipe to take to a gathering, thoughts of the person who gave me that recipe came to mind. It made me realize how many recipes (tellingly, all desserts) I still use from long-ago friends, and when I make them I always think about that person and where they came into my life.
The brownies came from David, a teacher I worked with in my television production days. He was unusually colorful for a history teacher, and I mean that literally. His lime-green suit with matching shoes is seared in my memory. At some point in his life, he and his wife used to bake for restaurants, and this was one of his standards.The éclair cake (like one big éclair on a sheet pan) came from Joanne, a neighbor of ours for 20 years when we had a lake house. She had been an executive secretary, although during a brief spell she and her late husband Frank had run a bakery. (Which now begs the question, did she make it for the bakery? I’ll never know.)
I’ve been making those Whoopie Pies, a favorite of our son’s, for possibly 45 years. My late mother-in-law got the recipe from a co-worker in the factory where she worked the line, a job she marched off to when My Guy was accepted to college in 1965.
The Apple Chain Cake – huge and hugely good, more of a coffee cake – came from Bea, a kind LPN I worked with in pediatrics where I was the part-time Unit Secretary. That was in the late ‘80s. She was a devout Seventh Day Adventist and a vegetarian. I remember her bringing a slab of that cake for her dinner break and I can guarantee you that was more than enough for anyone’s dinner.
There are more: another neighbor’s Rum Balls, and Baklava from my mentor Terry, the person who I can honestly say is the reason I became a teacher.
All of these people are now out of my life, but every time I take out their recipe, with the scribbled notes to myself and the aging scotch tape, they return.