Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Cookbook Connections...


My tattered childhood cookbook

I have always been surrounded by cookbooks...in my Bubbie's home, my mother's home, and now in my own.  My first cookbook was Betty Crocker's New Boys and Girls Cookbook, which I still have, tattered as it may be.

Those of you who have read my blog know that Mom instilled a love of cooking and baking not only in me, but in our girls.  From the tender age of 2 (or less) I would come by Mom's to discover my daughter(s) seated on her kitchen counter, a mixing bowl (often as big as they were) delicately balanced between their knees, as they recited "mixie, mixie, a la pixie, diddly dum and diddly dixie".

Around the time Mom was finally diagnosed with EOAD she brought a cookbook over for the kids "Kosher By Design - Kids in the Kitchen", which is pictured below.  She wanted to write a note to the kids on the inside cover, as she had done with cookbooks she gifted to me, but the words escaped her and she could not formulate a "dedication".  I tried to help her, but did not want to actually write the words for her, it seemed so forced and phony.    

My kids' cookbook, courtesy of Mom

We all cook from this cookbook.  Susie Fishbein's recipes are easy and delicious and the kids often gravitate to this book when they get an urge to bake.

On Saturday morning I came downstairs to discover Rebecca pulling out bowls and ingredients to make a Banana Berry Bread (page 56).  She insisted on doing it herself, and only allowed me to set up the mix-master for her.  We took her baking to Nonno and Nonna's that evening and it was fantastic!  The next day I took a piece to Mom and she ate every last morsel as I told her how her little Rebecca baked this bread from scratch from the cookbook she gave the girls.  I even got a little smile out of her.

Becca and her Banana Berry Bread

Tonight I came home from work & gymnastics at 4:45 p.m., and I was a woman on a mission.  Becca had to leave for dance by 6:15 p.m., which meant I had to set dinner down by 5:30 p.m.- no pressure at all!!

I walked into the kitchen only to discover that Rebecca was also on a mission - to make another from scratch dessert.  Ingredients were carefully laid out along the counter, and she was trying to figure out how many apples make up one and a half pounds.

So, as I raced to make ratatouille, I also set up the mix-master and helped Becca peel 6 small apples (that's how many apples it takes to make up one and a half pounds), and watched as she put together her first fruit crumble.

Becca's berry crumble

What a great feeling to see Sara and Rebecca loving their time in the kitchen, cooking and baking independently and carrying the passions of their matriarchs into the next generation!

As I cleaned up the cookbooks, I took a closer look at the book that has lived in my kitchen for at least 6 years, and then I looked again.  The author's name jumped out at me - Susie Fishbein.  And then all the pieces fell into place: I see her name mentioned all the time in the Facebook foodie groups to which I belong.

What a small world it is...and, once again, my mother introduced me and my family to a cookbook author who has, through her recipes, become one of the family.

It is a little thing, I know, but for me, these coincidences and connections are a source of comfort...it's as though someone up there is reminding me that my loss may be ever present in the physical world, but my mother's spirit will live on in us forever.