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Sometimes we follow the ingredients of life. Other times we mess with the recipe to create the flavor that is uniquely our own … and that’s when the factor of fulfillment can simmer.
My son Gordo stopped by Wednesday for lunch before heading to work at the hospital. He had this round wooden cutting board tied with a purple ribbon. It was a gift as his wife Ricci has recreated one of my mom’s recipes on the circle. I really liked it because it was a reminder of Mom and was simply beautiful.
We laughed how they had asked me for several months for one of Mom’s recipes. I thought Ricci wanted it because she’s quite the cook and baker and was just interested in more recipes to tackle. So we had lunch and talked and laughed more about life in general. As I moved dirty dishes to the sink and Gordo had stepped out of the kitchen, I picked up the cutting board again and looked closer at the imprint.
It was Mom’s handwriting … exactly like the recipe I had photographed and sent to the kids. To say that waves of emotion swept me faster than hot maple syrup over a stack of pancakes is an understatement. Tears spattered on my cheeks like oil in a sizzling skillet … Oh, you get the picture.
Gordo returned to the kitchen, and I confessed, “That Mom’s handwriting. How did Ricci do this?” Smiling, he explained her growing number of craft skills and said, “I thought you had noticed that earlier.”
No, only upon closer inspection had I realized it was her distinct script, the handwriting I had memorized all my life. And my son hugged me tighter as my tears fell faster than throwing sprinkles on cookies.
I said I always liked this recipe … except I don’t do green peppers, which Mom always called mangoes when I was growing up in Indiana. When I came to Illinois, I discovered that mangoes are an actual fruit, and green peppers are … well, green peppers. And her old fashioned catsup, with the emphasis on CAT, not the KETCHup on the bottle. And Roger doesn’t like obvious onions in anything, so I’ll have to substitute the real thing for cleverly disguised onion powder in smaller quantities.
Yes, I’d have to make this sometime soon with OUR tastes in mind. As I continued to marvel at her beautiful and legible handwriting, I realized my writing style is completely different from hers … and so is my recipe for life. I’ve had ingredients she never tasted … all my travels from coast to coast and Europe and Israel … the thousands of individuals I’ve interacted with throughout my life who have entrusted me with THEIR life stories to share with the world to educate, enlighten, entertain and engage …
I’ve substituted dashes of this and that to satisfy my own picky palate … to create dishes that fill my belly and soul with the nourishment and energy I need to survive … just as Mom had fixed her own meals. We didn’t share all the same tastes or desires … Sometimes we didn’t understand why certain ingredients appealed to us individually more than others … why some things are bitter or sweet … bland or sumptuous.
We’ve all been given a recipe of life, and it’s up to us to suit our tastes and add a little spice when we need to fall in love with life all over again as we wind our way through the smooth passages and construction zones. Just like along the highway, there are certain restaurants that will appeal to us and others that will urge to keep going until we find something we like better.
Remember these essential cooking tips:
• When you make your own culinary delights, stay close to the stove … or be sure to set the timer so you don’t get lost in the distractions of life.
• Avoid the ingredients that give you indigestion or heartburn … like bitter people or nasty situations.
• Learn to simmer, not boil over.
• Your unique recipes nourish the world in ways you can’t imagine.
Is it time to feed my soul yet …