Thursday, December 10, 2009


Last night for dinner we had chicken fixed according to my friend Katherine's recipe for Every Child's Chicken (In the words of my friend, "Every child loves this chicken because it is so sweet and tender!"). Following Katherine's instructions, the chicken is marinated in a mixture of soy sauce, lemon juice, brown sugar, and garlic, then baked slowly for several hours. Steve commented over dinner, "This is the best sauce!" And it is...dark, sweet, savory, and delicious. Yum!

At our house, recipes almost always have a name attached to them: Katherine's chicken, Pritzel meatloaf, Emily's cheesecake, Mr. Mike pickles, Mrs. Helen salad, Uncle Ray's marinade. Helen asked yesterday if she could make "Grammy Cookies." No, Grammy is not an ingredient in these cookies - they are simply a recipe associated with fond memories at Grammy's house. Actually, they are the chocolate/peanut butter/oatmeal no-bake cookies you can find in lots of cookbooks - it is only at our house that they are known as Grammy Cookies.

The recipes that don't officially have names in their titles still have a person or family associated with them. Runzas are a lunch-time favorite with my kids - another recipe from Katherine. Every time we fix these, thoughts of Katherine and her kids join us at the table, becoming part of our mealtime conversation. Preparing runzas, I reminisce about being in Katherine's kitchen years ago with other dear sisters, all of us weilding rolling pins as we pressed out the dough to make these delicious bun-sandwiches together for our horde of children.

Sour dough bread, squash relish - I can't prepare these without thinking of my friend Donna and feeling like she is somehow present in my kitchen. Taco soup, cappucino muffins - Hi, Teresa! Peanut-butter crackers dipped in almond bark - how many of those did we put away together when we were newlyweds to young Marines, Jill? ("Do we want to just talk, or talk and eat?")

Pumpkin pie - yes, my kids like the cool-whip version better, but I insist on making a dark, spicy, old-fashioned recipe handed down years ago from Mrs. Polly to my mother, then to me. Fortunately, my kids are very understanding - they appreciate the difference between no-bake pumpkin pie (which they love!) and Mom's pumpkin pie, which is a testimony to the loveliness of a dear saint, precious to me in my own childhood, who is now with the Lord. I was elated when, as we discussed menu options for Thanksgiving this year, my kids specifically asked me to make the old-fashioned pumpkin pies - we're winning them over, Mrs. Polly!

I think one of the reasons I enjoy cooking so much is because it is a way of remembering and celebrating dear friends and fond memories. Even in my remote, isolated corner of the world, I can't feel alone in the kitchen! Readers, do you have a similar practice of naming or associating certain recipes with particular people? I'd love to hear your thoughts!

On the menu at our house tonight: Suzanne's Chili


Jessica said...

I have several recipes that begin with "Mimi's..." for my grandmother. I love to make so many of her dishes and they're all named after her!

Camille said...

I can relate, Jessica. We have recipes for Grammy's slaw, Grammy's lasagna, Grammy's bread dressing....Grammys and Mimis and Nanas should probably all write cookbooks!