Each of you is such a fascinating individual! Watching you grow up to be yourselves as been one of my greatest joys.
There are so many details to remember. Mothers always mean to keep up the photos and baby books — but life gets in the way. One project that worked better than most was the cookbook, because a cookbook comes out, of necessity, many times throughout the month.
The cookbook began when your Abba wanted me to make cinnamon rolls, “just like Grandma’s.” The story about how I tracked down that recipe is a pretty long one — but suffice it to say that I finally acquired her original recipe, in her own handwriting. There was just one problem: the “recipe” consisted only of a list of ingredients. “Flour, eggs, butter, sugar, cinnamon.” No measurements, no temperatures, no times.
After a number of experiments, I finally came up with a winning combination of the ingredients in the holy recipe — and that had to be codified. So the cookbook was born.
Because it was lying about on the kitchen counter, I ended up keeping more than recipes between its overburdened covers.
When one of you said something very witty, or cute, or holy, I would write it in the cookbook.
On the last challah taken before Tisha b’Av 5759, when he was 7 years old, Aryeh said, “Ema, can we save this challah until after Mashiach’s birthday party, so we can give it to the Kohanim?”
As the years have gone by, I must confess that I would have forgotten too many details of your lives without keeping them logged in the cookbook.
The following was sandwiched between a recipe for Farfel and Cheese and a print of a Yehuda Pen oil painting from 1917:
A man asked 12-year-old Josh what he thought of the Orioles’ acquisition of the infamous Albert Belle. Josh was thoughtful for a moment. “I don’t know if it’s a good idea or not,” he answered gravely. “But maybe being around Cal Ripken will be good for Albert Belle. Maybe Cal will be a good influence on him.” I never heard anyone besides Josh express such a hopeful and mature sentiment on the subject.
And, of course, a most precious treasure for you has been saved in the cookbook as well: recipes in the handwriting of your dear grandparents, to keep them in the world just a little longer.
You’ve let me know that you each want to inherit the cookbook, when I finally drop off the twig. So I will figure out how to make a copy for each of you.
Advice for your own cookbooks: Make them in loose-leaf format. Life changes; recipes change. (The cookbook tracks our changes from eating non-kosher to kosher, and from eating lots of whole grains to eating low-carb.)
But the most precious and irreplaceable recipes in the cookbook will always be the measurements of you as you grew up, spiced by teaspoons of your budding wisdom, and sweetened by a mother’s pride.