I recently learned the power behind a recipe. It’s more than an instruction; it’s a passage to memories and the joyous past of yesteryear. It’s amazing what a recipe card can hold.
Simply written in blue ink on a plain white recipe card, dated November 7, 2010, I remember the day that mom gave me that recipe.
Mom was going through her recipe box, and there she unfolded a tattered, torn, piece of notebook paper. Her eyes widened with glee as she began rewriting the recipe onto a new card. Of course, I had to know what this strange piece of paper was, what made my mother so happy to rewrite this recipe. It obviously had to be good.
She ignored my pleas for an answer as she carefully scripted the recipe onto its new home – then folded it up.
She looked at me and said, “I am going to give you this very special recipe that was given to me.”
“It’s not to be shared, and lord help me I will haunt you if you publish it in the paper,” she said with a smile.
I, of course, made my promise, and she handed over the card.
“That is my favorite cake, Kay’s Earthquake Cake,” she said, “given especially to me and now I am giving it to you.”
At the time, I didn’t think much of it. It was a simple cake recipe.
I didn’t realize the impact that recipe would have; that was until I began to write a sympathy card to the family of a friend recently departed I remembered all of the joyous nature of this individual. Their caring heart, their love for family and community. When she wasn’t taking care of her family, she was in the kitchen baking or cooking something delicious on the stove. She loved to make people smile.
Kay Dawley was a remarkable person; it seems like yesterday when I was hiking up onto one of the barstools at Dawley’s Service Station with mom, as she ordered us a Tuna Sandwich to share or a Chocolate Shake and French Fries.
Mom loved Dawley’s Tuna Fish Sandwiches and always tried to recreate it at home, but to no avail. She would beg for the recipe, but Kay would just chuckle and say – it’s nothing special.
It wasn’t until my mom had a slice of Kay’s Earthquake Cake that she fell in love with it.
During the last few months working for Kay, my mom was given that piece of notebook paper with the Earthquake Cake recipe written upon it. She treasured that recipe and made it for special occasions. It wasn’t particularly difficult to make; it was something that deserved to be special.
Birthdays, anniversaries, a few family events; to spaghetti dinner nights this cake was often a feature. Not so much for special occasions, but a family around a dinner table is extraordinary enough.
As I finished the sympathy card, my mind went into a panic as I searched for that recipe card. Written in my mother’s script, I found that recipe.
I think I will fix a tuna sandwich, and bake that Earthquake Cake.
Three cups of flour, one teaspoon of vanilla… Just joking mom, the recipe is safe with me.