86: The Love of Cooking

86: The Love of Cooking

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Thanks to My Mom

The Love of Cooking

Our most treasured family heirlooms are our sweet family memories.

~Author Unknown

As I run my fingers gently along the rim of the small chipped wooden box, sweet nostalgia comes flooding back to me. This tiny box holds so many warm memories from many years ago. When I was a child, the box hung on the kitchen wall in the Brooklyn apartment that I shared with my parents and older sister. My mom, an avid cook and baker, filled this treasure box with recipes that she accumulated through the years.

By the time I was a teen, the box was stuffed with my mom’s handwritten recipes on index cards, pieces of scrap paper or pages torn from magazines. Mom was notorious for scrawling her helpful hints on some of the recipes. “Be careful not to overcook”, “I add less salt than what the recipe calls for” or “Make a double batch, and freeze half for later” she’d write. Her little notations would be of great help in the years to come.

I loved going through the recipes with my mom. “Let’s see,” my mom would say. “What do you think we should whip up for tonight’s dinner?” We would spread out the recipes on the kitchen table and together decide what we should make or bake for dessert. No matter what I chose, Mom would always smile, and say, “Good choice!” I felt so special that I got to choose what our family meal would be for that night.

As the sweet aroma from the kitchen drifted through our apartment, warm cozy feelings of love and comfort always filled my heart. Cooking together had become a big part of my early years. We laughed through disastrous cakes that collapsed into a lopsided mess and rejoiced when the chicken cacciatore turned out deliciously perfect.

Years later, after I got married, I’d often call my mom for one of the recipes that I wanted to try for my new husband. We’d chat on the phone, talking about the times we tried a new recipe and laugh when we reminisced about our disasters. There were times I’d frantically call my mom when a dish I prepared came out awful and dinner guests were about to arrive. She knew just what to do to save the dish. “Just add a little garlic,” she’d say, or “Put a potato in the stew to absorb some of the excess salt.” Sometimes, when my meal was beyond repair, Mom would say, “Just order pizza!”

My mom has since passed away, and I am now the proud owner of the recipe box. There are more chips and nicks in the aged wood. The recipes are yellowed, fragile, and stained.

When I ask my kids, “What do want for dinner tonight?” I take out my box, and we spread the recipes on our kitchen table. One will say, “Let’s make Grandma NaNa’s meatballs!” I say “Good choice!” just as my mom did.

As the wonderful aroma of dinner fills my home, I still feel the same comfort as I did many years ago, as if Mom is right there cooking for us. I whisper, “Thank you, Mom, for giving me the love of cooking and passing the love down to my children.”

~Dorann Weber

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