Sunday, September 18, 2005

Mom's House II

I'm one of those lucky people who has a mom that is a great cook. We grew up eating what we kids considered exotica--baked ziti and lamb curry. Over the years my mother's enthusiasm and skill has grown exponentially, and in recent years she's worked in a professional kitchen in Vermont.

It might dismay her, then, to know that while I have good memories of many of the meals that we have eaten together, the recipes I'm looking for are for all for the things she hasn't made in years, maybe decades. I talked to my brother about this. He, too, remembers the cocktail meatballs, in the their curious sauce of brown sugar, ketchup and cranberry sauce (jellied, from a can) that my mother served over white rice, though he doesn't remember the apple cake, a moist spiced cake studded with chunks of local apples, which mom would make after we went apple picking each fall.

I imagine making the popcorn balls that mom used to make at Halloween for our trick-or-treaters this year, but urban suspicions prefer individually packaged mars bars to hand-wrapped homemade caramel corn.

And then there were the haystacks. These weren't really something mom cooked, just assembled. The recipe was off the box of Total cereal, and involved coconut, peanut butter and a "no-bake" approach to cooking. A few years ago I tried to get the recipe from the good people at Total. When they finally sent the recipe, or what they thought was the recipe, I filed it away without trying to make them. I was afraid that my memory of those haystacks was probably better than they ever were.

But now, the apple cake? I think that would hold up to close scrutiny.

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