Tuesday, November 20, 2012

You can cook just like Mom...

Last night I got the best Thanksgiving and Christmas gift of my life.

I had taken a nap earlier in the day and had sad dreams about my Mom. I missed her so much afterwards.
I had been thinking about her earlier in the day after volunteering as an RN at the free clinic. I thought about how proud she would have been because she loved to help people, and was always so proud of everything I ever did in life. I thought about how she would have loved to volunteer, and probably would have asked if there was something she could do, too.

At the clinic, they began closing off the parking lot for handing out turkey and other food for Thanksgiving to homeless and others unable to purchase. I suppose the holidays are all-around a hard time because we devote them around our family, and when they're gone, you feel lost...

Later in the evening, after cooking and thinking of the upcoming holidays, my thoughts turned to her recipes. You see, after her death in January 2011, due to family dynamics and drama better left unsaid, I was unable to retrieve some of her belongings from the house. Over the past year and a half, I've always been completely heartbroken that I've lost her handwritten recipes, notes, and books.
My Mother read the newspaper every single day from front to back (very proudly, I might add!), and she would often cut out little articles or recipes that she liked. She was a wonderful cook and had many of her "Nancy's" famous ___ (fill in the blank!).

Nothing compares to your Mom's homecookin', even the simplest of meals. Every time I put a knife to a celery stalk, open a can of tomatoes, or make a batch of banana bread, I think of her cooking, the aroma of smells wafting through our house on any night of the week, and I regret all of the missed opportunities to learn from her!

And I regret not having her famous recipes.

The one thing that I did have, however, was a tin recipe box with handwritten recipes from my Grampa (her father, who raised her and 6 other kids when she died of complications from a car accident; my Mom was 6). However, after dreaming of my Mom so vividly and thinking of her food, I could not remember where I stored my Grampa's box!
My Grampa, and Mom's mom who died at age 36.

Since my Mom's death, I've been putting off going through the boxes and boxes of photos and small mementos hidden in my closet.  It's been a daunting and depressing task that I've "put off for a rainy day" that has yet to manifest in busy life.

So, last night around 9pm, I went through a box and came across a large green plastic box with the words, "Important Recipes" haphazardly written in sharpie across the sides...in my Mother's handwriting.

I opened the box to discover hundreds and hundreds of recipe cards in her handwriting, yellowed with age and splattered with sauces and crumbs from past times in the kitchen. In addition, tons of articles, recipes from newspapers and magazines that caught her eye and prompted her to cut them out and store them in this box. She wasn't very organized.

They were all there...chicken ala king, cheeseburger pie, Nancy's famous sauce, her chinese chicken wings, angel chicken...the classics from my childhood. Here they were!!!!!

I brought the box out into the living room with tears in my eyes. I opened a manilla envelope full of newspaper clippings.
The first article that I pulled out nearly took my breath away...
It's like she was smirking in her mischievous grin trying to speak to me...

Thanks, Mom!!!!! I'm certainly going to try...