I am a wordie. I read all the time, everywhere and anywhere, and often read a few different books at the same time. I love to ask people what they are reading, and I keep a to-read list. Those who know me well, know that I love board games, crossword puzzles, online brain-teaser games, playing multiple games of Words with Friends at the same time, and I love to watch Jeopardy.
In my career, a significant part of my work is communications-based. So, it will come as no surprise that I always thought I would write a book…someday.
Recently my son, Evan, accepted a job in San Francisco. The week before he left, he asked if I would give him some of his favourite recipes. As I sorted through my recipe binders, I thought it might be nice to gather some of my daughter Jordana’s favourite recipes and give them to her as well.
I opened a Word file and started scanning and typing.
I noticed that the chicken soup I make is my mother-in-law Donna’s recipe. And so is my “famous” turkey, cabbage borscht and so much more. The “party potatoes”, sweet and sour meatballs, pie crust and so on were my mother’s recipes. I make Jenny’s apple crisp and Auntie Rose’s crinkle cookies.
My brain overflowed with memories of the smells and sounds of so many meals spent with the people I love. I had never realized how many of my meals came from recipes from the people I loved most.
My mother was known for her holidays, birthday parties and her Dora’s Coloured Cookies. My mom loved to bake for others. She would make kreplach (dumplings) on holidays and drop off packages for her friends. She baked her coloured cookies personalized with each recipient’s initials. Our house was always filled with the smells of sweet baking. When she passed away, I sat on the floor and went through all her cookbooks and binders (and there were a lot) to take out and keep her precious recipes. On the holidays I began making her kreplach.
As I started this recipe process, I realized that I have become known for making challah for my family and friends, often rolling the dough into their initials or special shapes. I drop off packages of hamantaschen and chicken soup. I too share my love through my cooking and baking. For me, the holidays are all about the smells and tastes and sharing them with family.
In the best possible way, I had turned into my mother.
I reached out to my family and asked for their special recipes, the ones we ask them to bring to our pot-luck dinners, and that we look forward to on holidays and special occasions. I added new recipes and old favourites from cherished cookbooks that most of us have on our shelves. My goal was to have a collection of easy-to-follow recipes that anyone could make. This led to discussions with my mother-in-law about adding clearer instructions for the gefilte fish she makes (where most of the instructions were “to-taste” or “by touch” or “fill half of the pot”). My father-in-law, Ralph, asked if he could add a few extra recipes in addition to his famous creamy garlic dressing, Glace Bay fish cakes and BBQ sauce. Tobi added Bubby Rosie’s mandelbroit recipe, and many of her own favourite specialties.
Before I knew it, I had hundreds of recipes.
How nice would it be to share these with the whole family? I added grilling, cooking, and baking tips. I divided the document into sections from Beverages to Vegetables. I created a table of contents and — before I knew it — I had created a 100-page cookbook.
I called it “Your Mama Loves You… Sharing Favourite Recipes with My Favourite People”, and dedicated it to my children with the inscription, “May this cookbook fill your stomachs with good food, your hearts with love, and your heads with happy memories of the many great meals we have shared together”. I raced it over to the printer and made spiral-bound copies for everyone in my family. We had a lovely family dinner before Evan left and I surprised everyone with a cookbook. The reaction was heart-warming. The stories and memories flowed about the recipes, when we had shared them, and who we had shared them with.
I will be uploading my heirloom cookbook to a shared drive with my family so I can correct any errors and add in any omissions. My goal is to ultimately print a final copy in a real book format for my family. It may not be the great Canadian novel, but it was started and completed within a week (while working and helping Evan prepare to move).
And … I can now honestly say… I wrote a book.
What I learned from this process is that when you give from a place of love, anything is possible. Sometimes you reach a goal that doesn’t resemble the one you thought you were striving for, but it just might be the one you were meant to achieve. The overwhelming feeling of love for my kids and my family while I was creating the book, and when I gave it to them, was truly bliss. I take great pride in hearing from family when they try one of the recipes or comment on the book.
I cherished the memories that flooded my soul as I typed out the recipes of precious people who are no longer here to make them for me. I wept as I typed thinking of the new memories my children will make in their own kitchens. The crowning glory for me was when my husband, David, and I were in San Francisco a few weeks later, settling Evan in his new apartment. On our last night I cooked a full, traditional, and delicious Rosh Hashana dinner for him, his roommates and a few of his friends. Every recipe came from Your Mama Loves You.