Thanks to Kelli for the writing prompt. http://kelliblogs.com/2015/08/20/six-word-stories-loss/
Peanut butter cookies. My grandmother made the best peanut butter cookies on the planet and she usually made them when I went to visit so I could help her. At four or five or six I was sure she could never have made them properly if it weren’t for my little fingers squishing the fork down on top of those round balls of gooey, gluey, brown dough. First I pushed it down one way and then carefully turned the fork to make the imprint in the opposite direction.
How I wish I had those recipes. Unfortunately my stepmother, who is now the keeper of the home, doesn’t hold things like that in high regard so I have no access to anything that was my grandmother’s but of all the things I would like to have from that home the recipes would take priority.
The fame of my grandmother’s cooking was not universal except people from all over came to taste her cooking. Her career extended to the week she died at 88. She was in the kitchen.
Grandma and my grandfather bought their home in Port Dover in 1930. Not the best year to be setting up a new life and a business but, in love, and determined to make a go of it they began their journey. Even in the Great Depression people had to eat.
Grandpa was a mechanic and locksmith. He and his father set up business on the main street. Grandma had a young son to raise so her entrepreneurial activity had to be from home for a while. Her teaching career was on hold because in that day, married women were not allowed to teach. The solution was to take in boarders. Suddenly her little family of three became a family of five or six and she began to develop her skill as a cook. As the oldest of five children on a farm she already had a good start at it.
In the summer she took in tourists for a week or two at a time. They would have breakfast there and visit the beach for the day, often with a picnic lunch in hand. They would return in time for dinner at six. In later years they would have dinner at the Tea Room. Grandma and Grandpa slept on the back porch and Dad in the garage in the summer so the guests could have their bedrooms upstairs. My mother was one of her boarders.
Grandma was still doing all of this when I was a child. She was also teaching full time and running the Tea Room which was beside the garage. Her energy was endless and I know she must have been very tired much of the time but there was always time for peanut butter cookies.
Big family gatherings were her crowning glory. She made perfect meals and set a perfect table (also one of my jobs). Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving, birthdays, all were perfect meals, except for the carrots. She always burned the carrots and that slight smokey flavour was quickly covered with lots of brown sugar and butter which are the ingredients of perfection for almost anything.
When the ladies at the church put together their cookbooks they pleaded with Grandma to include her recipes for her salad dressing or chicken pie. I’m sure I heard many blue haired women say to her over the years, “Laura, I just can’t make that chicken pie taste like yours. I don’t know what I’m doing wrong.”
She would smile graciously at their compliment and not say a word but those of us who knew the truth would giggle silently and never let on we knew her secret. Whenever she shared a recipe she always left out one ingredient or changed the amounts a little.
The only person who ever got her recipe for the salad dressing was Robert Downing and he took it with him to Fern Resort where it was used for years (maybe still). There it was made in two gallon batches to add to the potato salad. Robert used to laugh about being the only person who had the real recipe.
I wonder if even having her recipes would help me in making the food taste like hers did. She probably didn’t write down all the things that she put in them, and the main ingredient would always be missing…her love.