I fumbled my mom’s old recipe box on the night before Thanksgiving. A hundred recipes fanned out on the kitchen floor and the box landed in two pieces. I ferreted out the pineapple casserole I was looking for, and shoved everything back in the box as best it would go, telling myself that I’d sort through it in the next couple of days, but knowing that was a lie.
Facing my third ice-bound day, this morning seemed like a good time to put recipes back in order. I settled in with my hot tea (Numi – Monkey King, if you must know), and got to work sorting the age yellowed, typed index cards and hand written, notebook paper recipes back to their proper section.
And then my phone rang. It was Donna, the friendly taxidermist calling me back. We had a lively discussion about pets we have loved and agreed that her daughter, Nora is a gem. When we got around to the business of why I’d left her a message – Woody – she was very tender in asking me the questions a taxidermist needs answered concerning a possible mount. I tried to let her know these discussions don’t bother me. When he’s gone I will miss him and grieve him terribly, but I can handle matters of his body with complete detachment. I told her I’ve already made arrangements for myself and stopped short of telling her I did the same for my mother just five years ago.
Five years ago, today.
She passed that morning before I could get back in to hospice to visit. When we left the night before, I think we all knew it was the last time. She talked about how heavy her ham was and I told her to put it down.
The thought of that, on the phone with Ms. Donna, kind of took my breath away. When we hung up, I returned to my recipe sorting, thinking that maybe I’d find a nice ham recipe to make for dinner tonight in her memory. And maybe I’d make the cherry chocolate cake my dad loved, too; in another two weeks he’ll have been gone 10 whole years.
When the jellies and breads and pickles and puddings were all tucked away in orderly fashion behind their tabbed labels, I noticed there wasn’t a single ham recipe. In fact, except for a magazine clipping of how to saute a chicken and what to do with it once you have, the whole meat section of her box was empty. I will attribute this to the thirty or so cook books I confiscated when my father passed away. Meat was his favorite genre and I’m guessing he didn’t give her much opportunity to collect any of her own recipes in that medium.
I ran across eight recipes for persimmons; bread, cake, cookies, pickled, pie, and three puddings. She took the time to type or tape each of these recipes onto index cards, I’m guessing, in the early 70’s. The paper has a scent I recognize from my childhood. But here’s my question – Did persimmons go extinct? I’ve never seen one and I can say with certainty that the stains on these recipes were not made during my lifetime.
If you know what and where a persimmon is, maybe you can send me one (a few). In return, I’ll share this recipe with you.