Home   |   LCS Prints Store   |   About Me   |   FAQ   

Monday, March 28, 2016

Old Holiday, New Treat



Early in my blogging infancy, I discovered a blog called Orangette, written by a woman named Molly Wizenberg.  Her blog features food and life, and how the two intersect and I love, love, love her writing style. Shortly after I found her, Molly published a book called A Homemade Life, which I promptly pre-ordered and which happens to be my current re-read.  In the book, she intersperses evocative essays relating to events in her life, followed by a recipe or two connected to the story. What more can I say except the woman writes from her heart, and in doing so, she reaches out to mine…along with, well, my tummy. 

Molly reminds me that I cook not only for the pleasure it gives me, but because beloved recipes connect me with the people and times I can no longer touch.  It's as if, through food, I can almost taste my way back.  I carried that theme forward this weekend when I made my Grandmother’s recipe for double-boiler scrambled eggs, as I do on Easter Sunday every year.  When I sat down for a plate of luxurious, soft scrambled eggs, for a moment I was present again at a mahogany dining table surrounded by my five siblings and my parents, with my grandmother reigning at the head. Later in the day, I roasted sweet potatoes to mash as a side to the pork tenderloin I served for dinner. That conjured up my late father-in-law, describing how when he was a kid, the street vendors in New Jersey sold hot, roasted sweet potatoes from a cart, and how he ate them as a snack. 
 
Then, there was the lemon cake.   

It was a strange Easter for us.  Our daughter is away.  Our next door relatives were elsewhere too, and the rest of our extended family went off in different directions, so at our house Easter dinner ended up including my husband, his mother and me.  A table set for three felt strange to all of us, and I suppose I wanted to do something to make the day more special for my mother-in-law.  Her mother, who was probably one of the kindest people ever born, made a lemon cake that is legendary in the family…but, for whatever reason, I don’t have the recipe.  Now though, I have Molly Wizenberg’s, which I served with a coulis I made with blueberries I picked last summer and froze.  That one dessert rocketed me back to the deep-set  eyes of Grandma Rogers, as well as the hot day last July when I stood on the shady side of the bushes. There were so many berries, I picked until my bucket, slung around my neck with a rope, hung heavy from my shoulders.. But the best part was this.  When I served the plate of lemon cake, my eighty-three-year-old mother-in-law took a bite and said, "This is delicious.  This makes me think of my mother.  She used to make a good lemon cake."

The combination of memory and food was entirely yummy, and let’s just say the dessert fed all of our hearts. Thanks to Molly, I’m pretty sure I just served up a new Easter tradition.



I’m not sure of the etiquette or (legality) of posting a recipe from Molly’s book here, but it seems others aren’t worried.  If you want to make her French-style YogurtCake with Lemon, here’s a link.  In addition, you can find the  coulis recipe here. For some reason the coulis page takes a long time to load...so if you have problems, cut and paste the address into your browser. http://www.fabulousfoods.com/recipes/blueberry-coulis
 

15 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

You did a great job with that cake if it took her back. Funny how tastes and smells can transport us back to a moment in time.

karma Thinley said...

I could see the taste of your lemon cake through the beautiful words of your's. Actually I a bad cook who survive eating noodles when my wife is away from home. From now I will try to learn from your linked Orangette, I've also subscribed her. Thank you for your beautiful post

mshatch said...

This made me smile. I could imagine how pleased your mother in law must've been. There's nothing like certain foods to bring back happy memories :)

Starting Over, Accepting Changes - Maybe said...

Food has a way of invoking wonderful memories of the past. You wrote about it beautifully. I am remembering the aroma of Thanksgiving dinner when my mom would make her bread stuffing. My sisters and I have all tried to recreate it and only once did I come close to succeeding. Alas, there was no recipe. I have a feeling she might have been making it from her memories of her childhood.

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Lovely post, Liza. I have a handful of family recipes that I make now and then, and they always make me smile.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Food reminds me of people and other days also. That is great that you brought a pleasant memory up for your husband's mother.

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

What a lovely post; you brought a bit of tears to me eyes. (That's a good thing!)

Food doesn't just feed the body; it can feed the soul, too, especially when it evokes memories, like your lemon cake did for your mother-in-law. It was just my hubby and me for Easter dinner this year, but that didn't stop me from including homemade kielbasa... like his mother used to make.

Bish Denham said...

Yes... food and memories go together like wine and cheese. Whenever I make beans and rice, I'm carried back to Puerto Rico and Virgin Islands. Whenever I make banana bread, I'm think of my grandmother. I'm so glad I have her mortar and pestle and her cast iron skillet both somewhere between 75 and 80 years old.

Pixel Peeper said...

Foods and smells...few other things have such powerful ways to transport us to a certain time in life. I love my father-in-law's squash and make it every year for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Joanne said...

legendary lemon cake - yum. My mouth watered. Neat to conjure memories with food. Good post. Glad you had a nice Easter

Nicola said...

I love lemon cake! I'm often transported back to my childhood when a particular smell hits me. A wonderful post. Thank you.

Jan Morrison said...

What a lovely post! And how compassionate you are in word and deed. Cooking for those we love is so satisfying isn't it?

Robin said...

What a lovely Easter meal. Liza, you have a good heart, always so thoughtful of the people you love. ((hugs))

Connie said...

It sounds like it was a lovely meal. I have many memories tied up with food also and know just what you mean about tasting your way back to people and times from your past.

Tabitha Bird said...

Sounds like an awesome book. Food and memories... Ah yes :)