My niece asked for my mom’s pecan pie recipe today. When we were going through Mom’s personal things, I asked if I could have the recipes and cookbooks. I got them, on the sort-of-unspoken condition that I shared them whenever I was asked to. Which of course.
So after I had breakfast and was properly caffeinated, I pulled out the recipe box. Sometimes I can lay hands on a recipe more or less immediately, but sometimes it takes a little while. This one was a bit of a deep dive, but I finally found the pecan pie card. It was with a bunch of other pie recipes, in the casseroles section. Dementia makes life interesting, I guess. And infinitely less organized.
I can’t decide whether my own cluttered mind or sentimentality drove the decision, but I put it right back behind the casseroles tab when I was done. With all the other pies. (Including, I noticed, hamburger pie. I wonder if that was the logic.)
But as I was riffling through cards in search of pie, I found this, too. Mom’s spaghetti recipe, in her handwriting.
So far, this post has been exactly what you were expecting when you saw the title, I’d wager. A little nostalgia, a little sentimentality, some memories. But here’s where I go off the reservation.
You guys. Honest talk. I really did not like this stuff. I mean, what was she doing getting recipes from a gas company in the first place? Random source aside, read it. Basically you throw everything in and cook until the broken-up pasta is mushy and/or burnt to the bottom. There are full-blooded Italians reading this who are going to need to go lie down with a cold rag. (DISCLAIMER: If this is your favorite recipe, know that I support your right to eat mushy, burnt noodles whenever you please. I would eat them if you served them to me, and I would smile and say thank you because I was not raised by wolves. But I feel a little sad for you. Can’t be helped.)
My memory is that we had this a lot. I realize that could be skewed, but either way, I kind of get it. I’m all about meals that can be cooked with only one dish. Zap some frozen veggies in the microwave and you’re good to go. Though if you want the full Gasser childhood experience, you should forget them in the microwave until halfway through the meal and then jump up and run them another minute to warm them up before bringing them to the table.
Anyway. I don’t like washing dishes either. When we had spaghetti, all she had to do was wash the electric skillet. (Italians, I know. Spaghetti in an electric skillet is not okay. Just breathe through it.) I probably complained about it. I have a feeling the (or less) bit after the onions was about me. Weirdly, this recipe is giving me the boost I need today.
Again, honest talk. I’ve been having a pretty bad time lately. I still haven’t figured out exactly what the root is, but there is some grief and some anxiety and some seasonal depression mixed up in there for sure. When I feel bad, the person I turn on most is myself. In my own personal Crazytown, I am a personal failure for not being a bikini model. I am a career failure for not being perfectly right all the time and having all knowledge instantaneously at the front of my brain. I am a moral failure for being impatient and angry sometimes. I am a caretaking (is that a word?) failure because Levi is coughing awfully. Again. I am a parenting failure for not raising perfectly behaved children who eat supper without complaint. Crazytown is a very dark place, and logic is not highly valued.
It’s only when I begin to emerge that I am able to see what was true all along: I am doing the best that I can. It’s okay not to be perfect. Especially it’s okay not to be perfect at everything all at the same time. I am not a perfect employee, but I try pretty hard. I am less impatient that I used to be. I’m improving. It’s a process. To borrow a phrase from a fitness professional I follow*, I am perfect just the way I am. Also, I could use a little work.
And (here’s where I bring it back around; I know you were wondering) my children love me and they know I love them. That would be true even if I fed them slop every night. Because while I would not make that spaghetti recipe in an electric skillet to eat under my own power, there is very little I would not give if I could walk next door and see Mom cooking it in her kitchen. I would sit down at the table and eat it. And I would like it.
*Molly Galbraith, if you’re interested. She is, basically, about getting strong and healthy without hating yourself along the way.