Nurturing the soul

It was a cold and rainy Sunday (we’ve had a few of them this spring) and a perfect day to pull out my cook books. But what should I bake? Certainly something that would make me as feel warm and cozy as the old fleece I’d slipped into that morning.


I have quite an accumulation of books that I’ve collected over the years; many from different areas of the country. I am particularly fond of church fundraiser books. Only the best recipes are contributed by those ladies—and they can cook!

I thumbed through a stack of the little spiral bound books and while many of the recipes sounded delicious, none of them grabbed me. I wanted to make something tried and true, so I set them aside and reached for my old friend.

We all have them—both figuratively and literally. This friend is a compilation of recipes from family, friends and co-workers. Written on scraps of paper or neatly typed, they may or may not indicate whose kitchen they came from. Some are from magazines, with edges tattered from being ripped out on the fly.

Stuffed in a notebook with no rhyme nor reason, I was forced to look at every slip of paper.

There was a lovely recipe for soft spice biscotti, torn from a magazine many years ago. I smiled as I recalled how I’d gotten caught pilfering it. My doctor, as it happens also loves to cook and saw me stuffing it into my bag as he called me into his office. I was forgiven after I let him photocopy it for himself.

I found a recipe for sweet and sour chicken. Written in long hand, I’ve had it since I was a bride. Given to me by a childhood friend, it is stained and creased from use. She lives in Tennessee now and although we don’t see each other often, we still exchange zany gifts at Christmas. I make that dish often and the ingredients, like the antics of our youth, are committed to memory.

I reached the end of my collection without selecting a recipe and was about to close the notebook when I noticed the corner of a page peeking out from beneath another sheet. A little tug and there it was, written in a scrawl that was achingly familiar.

We worked together for a long time. Although our lives had taken different paths in recent years, our friendship has stood the test of time; a phone call over the holidays, a funny email or a brief note just to say, “Hi.”

I lost my friend Carol three weeks ago. I didn’t know that she was ill. She never mentioned it when last we spoke. That was so… Carol. Others say it was for the best because now I can remember her for the fun times and won’t dwell on the bad. I know that she would say that herself if she could, and perhaps she has. Her recipe for Pineapple Cake, scribbled on a “scratch pad” reflects her sense of humor. I share it with you here to enjoy and to remind you that memories are precious and must be preserved, if only through the exchange of recipes between friends.

With that, my afternoon took a different direction. I organized all of my bits and scraps into a binder that will someday be passed down to my Grands. Perhaps some of my cards will stir a good memory or two for them.

And although there was no baking done that day, I felt nurtured.

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One Response to Nurturing the soul

  1. Robert D Morse says:

    Oh Pam that recipe Carol has made so many times over the years. Thank you for remembering Carol in your blog. You write so eloquently I can just see Carol making it in the kitchen and cooking it. I personally miss my cousin so much.
    Thank You Again. Bob Morse

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