Each recipe card holds a memory

  • Wednesday, February 27, 2013

I cook a lot and for the last few years I’ve been wanting to upgrade my old recipe box to a binder. The binder has page protectors with two slots for cards and flipping through the binder is so much easier than digging through a recipe box. Last week I finally got around to ordering one and the day it came in the mail I spent about an hour, filling the pages of the binder.

As I flipped through recipes I remembered distinctly where I was when I wrote them all down. I remember being 19-years-old, newly engaged, in my mother’s house and pulling her recipe box out of the cabinet.

Each card that I picked up reminded me of something different, the pattern of a recipe card that I recognized as my mother’s next door neighbor’s.

I looked forward to living in the one bedroom garage apartment Zeb and I had arranged to live in once we got married. I was used to cooking simple meals. My own mother is an excellent cook and she didn’t mind at all for my sister and I to be directly under her feet in the kitchen — measuring, mixing and stirring...But my Momma’s kitchen was open to everyone and there were usually four or five extra mouths to feed. I had unknowingly been training to cook for an army. The first year of marriage, it would take Zeb and me almost two weeks to eat one batch of spaghetti, until I learned how to cook for just two.

A stained and rippled card holding my grandmother’s vegetable soup recipe transported me to my first year of marriage. I remember distinctly standing in the kitchen of our one bedroom apartment in Fort Worth, Texas. It was so small I could stand in one spot and wash dishes, cook on the stove, grab something out of the pantry and open the fridge by simply pivoting my hips. I was sick and away from my family for the first time when I called my grandmother for her soup recipe. I’ve used it so many times, I don’t even need to look at it anymore, but why wouldn’t I?

After 15 years not only can I whip up a delicious meal just by glancing in my fridge and pantry, but my marriage has gotten better too. I wondered where we would be in 10 or 15 years when we got married. Where would we live? How many kids would we have? Would we finally have jobs with health insurance? Would we ever be able to afford an engagement ring? Would we still like each other?

It makes my heart feel full as I answer all of those questions today. I want to pat my sweet 19-year-old baby-self on the head and say, “Don’t worry Baby Girl, you have married the best man you’ll ever know. He’ll never raise his voice to you. He’ll do laundry when it needs to be done, take out the trash, fix anything you break (and you know you break a lot of stuff.) He’s going to be an amazing father. He’ll take your kids fishing and camping and paint their toenails and read them books. He’ll choose staying at home with you over any number of other activities and he will give 150 percent of his energy to provide for you and to protect you. Fifteen years from now, after your body has been pillaged by three pregnancies, he’ll make you feel as beautiful as he does now. He’ll never so much as glance at another woman and even though he’d lose his head if it wasn’t attached to his shoulders, he will be your champion. And not to brag - but in 15? You are gonna be able to make toast with your eyes closed, blindfolded and with one arm tied behind your back.”

(Robin O’Bryant is an author, humorist and speaker. Her latest book is “Ketchup is a Vegetable and Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves.” Connect with her on Facebook and Twitter and visit her blog at www.robinschicks.com.)

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