Jul 30 2013

The Secret Recipe

Category: Positive ThinkingPatricia @ 3:47 pm
8 Muffins + 72 Blueberries = A Plate Full of Love

8 Muffins + 72 Blueberries = A Plate Full of Love

Families and food are woven together in a tapestry of cultures, traditions and beliefs. We all have “family recipes” passed down from generation to generation. Some have secret ingredients or require elaborate preparation. Some come with stories about their origins while others seem to have no beginning. All have an emotional attachment to the food – a connection to the cook or to the tradition or the memory of family gatherings that taste like love.

Food and love come together in many ways. Why do you think it’s called “comfort food”? This summer, I visited my 86 year old Aunt Alice who is the epitome of home cooking and family recipes. All of her recipes are in her head. She’s happy to share but it takes a moment while pen and paper in hand, she mentally prepares the dish as she painstakingly lists all the ingredients and instructions. Aunt Alice loves to cook and bake. She loves to love and this is her way. When I arrived I was greeted with a favorite yellow squash (never use zucchini) casserole. I was reminded that it was the original recipe. Not like the way her sister, my Aunt Helen might have prepared it for me. Helen is always trying to mess with a recipe, which doesn’t set well with Alice.

While the casserole was baking in the oven, I spied the other treat awaiting me. A bountiful plate of blueberry muffins! Yum!  Aunt Alice offered one before lunch. I offered no resistance. I took a bite, savoring the taste of summer blueberries contrasting with the texture of the cake.  I took a good look at my muffin; “feasted my eyes upon it”, so to speak.  And as I admired it, I had to make a comment.

“There’s the perfect ratio of blueberry to muffin,” I proclaimed.

“That’s because I put 9 blueberries in each muffin,” she replied.

“What do you mean, 9 blueberries? Do you count them out for each muffin?” I asked as I giggled with the thought.

“Why, yes! You can’t just put them in the batter all at once. They lump together! That’s what Helen does. I put half the batter in the tin and add 5 blueberries. Then I put the rest of the batter in and add 4 blueberries,” she said.

“That’s hysterical! “ I couldn’t contain the laughter and she joined in. “That’s not written in the recipe! Doris gave me the recipe. I haven’t made it yet, but I’m sure glad I didn’t. I had no idea it required counting 9 blueberries! Why do you do that?”

And with authority, she said, “That’s the way I like it.”  Who am I to question why?

Later that day, we visited my Aunt Helen who is now 90 and confined to a retirement home. Sadly, her muffin baking days are over. Cousin Doris was there. I questioned her regarding the recipe and shared the story of my discovery. As I told the story, I watched her nod in agreement as I noted the specific counting and baking procedure.

“Do you put 9 blueberries in the muffin too?” I asked.

“Of course!” she responded in a very matter of fact manner. “That’s what fits!”

And there we sat, a family of women connected to each other by common ancestors and DNA. But more than that, connected by memories of cooking together and sharing food. Family connected by this recipe and the silly “secret” secret of 9 blueberries. We laughed and laughed and laughed.

When I returned home, I felt the need to bake the muffins. I followed the recipe as I was taught by the master. Trust me, its’ worth your time to listen to Aunt Alice. The next time you bake muffins, count your blessings.

There are many secret ingredients in a family recipe.  The most flavorful, satisfying and nourishing one is the power of love.

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