Carmel Magazine

Carmel Magazine, spring 2018

Issue link:

Contents of this Issue


Page 49 of 243

F ew moments in life are as rich in meaning and memories as the simple act of sharing a meal with someone we love. Even if we share it from afar. Here's a confession: I am not the world's best cook. I'm not proud of it, but there it is. I never stirred a pot before I was married. I've stirred plenty since and gotten better at it over the years. But growing up, the kitchen and meals that came from it were mys- teries to me. My mother worked hard as a waitress and a millhand. At the end of the day, she didn't want help cooking for her family. She wanted to be left alone. So she'd shut the kitchen door, open a nearly empty cupboard, rattle a few pots and pans and miraculously produce a meal. We ate it. It was good. Especially her biscuits. And her peach cobbler, oh my. Years later, faced with feeding a family of my own, I bought cook- books. I figured, if I could read, I could cook. Which is true in theory. But not in spirit. The art of cooking is like the art of conversation. You need to do more than the basics. It isn't enough to say, "Glad to see you, how's your mama and them?" Yes, that's a start. But you need to ask real questions and lis- ten to the answers. Share a bit of yourself. And most of all, you need to care. In cooking, as in conversation—and life—caring makes all the difference. I learned to cook partly by cooking, but mostly by listening to what people at my table said, or didn't say, about the food. I watched their faces, hoping they'd smile in delight and not gag on the gravy. I'd ask, "What does it need?" or "How can I make it better next time?" I kept track of who asked for seconds (yes!) or sneaked scraps under the table to the dog. I even took note of what the dog lapped up or left on the floor. I sensed the connections, the salt of conversation and the spice of laughter. Did the meal begin with a prayer of gratitude and grace, the joining of hands and the clinking of glasses? Did it fill our hearts as well as our stomachs? Did it nourish not just our bodies but our souls? In the end, did it bring us closer? I know. That might be a lot to ask of a tuna casserole. But hear me out. We've all been famished and have eaten some- thing, anything, just to fill us up. I have no problem with that. I do it more often than I like to admit. But if we're cooking for the pleasure of sharing it with loved ones, the meal should be pleasurable. And memorable. No cell phones. No TV. No unpleasantries of any kind. And nobody leaves the table until all have finished. Except small chil- dren who've eaten their fill and can't sit another minute. One of the best things about sharing a meal is the memo- ries it creates or brings to mind. Imagine my delight recently when my daughter asked for my recipe for Dutch Babies. It's a simple recipe: Mix four eggs, a cup of flour and a cup of milk. Bake it in a buttered cast iron skillet at 425 for about 20 minutes until it's puffed up and golden. Serve it with a sprin- kle of lemon and powdered sugar. As I typed those directions to send to her, my mind hummed with memories of times I made that recipe for her and her brothers and their friends. All the sleepovers. All the lazy Saturday mornings. All the Sunday night suppers when I didn't want to go to the market to get something else. I smiled, picturing the little girl who loved that recipe. She would sit at the kitchen table with powdered sugar on her nose, holding J.J., her Cabbage Patch Kid, in her lap, sharing pre- tend bites with him. "J.J. loves it, Mom," she'd say. That's the same little girl who wanted the recipe to make on Christmas morning for her husband and 6-year-old Henry and Slowy, Henry's stuffed sloth. I added a final instruction: "When you serve it," I said, "be sure to say, 'Nana loves us all!'" Because I do. I bet Slowy asked for seconds. Sharon Randall is a syndicated columnist for Scripps Howard News Service. This column is used by permission. She divides her time between the Monterey Peninsula and "Las Vegas of All Places." She can be contacted at P.O. Box 777394, Henderson, NV 89077 or at 48 C A R M E L M A G A Z I N E • W I N T E R 2 0 1 8 POSTCARDS FROM HOME S H A R O N R A N D A L L She would sit at the kitchen table with powdered sugar on her nose, holding J.J., her Cabbage Patch Kid, in her lap, sharing pretend bites with him. A Recipe to Remember

Articles in this issue

Links on this page

Archives of this issue

view archives of Carmel Magazine - Carmel Magazine, spring 2018