This morning I started to make banana bread, because I bought bananas but didn’t eat them. After the exploding watermelon last week I was not about to tackle any fruit bigger than my hand. And besides, banana bread is so much healthier than bananas, no? ….. No? ….. Oh, I see. Anyway, waste not, want not, I always say. Except, perhaps, a smaller waist. But I digress.
I traipsed (are you getting a visual?) into the front room that also serves as my sewing room/office/bead studio/library/window to the world, in search of my beloved Better Homes and Garden cookbook. The one I received as a wedding gift, lo, those 32 years ago. The one I have depended on for delicious banana bread for all these years. It looks like this:
I open the cookbook to page 76, where the banana bread recipe has been all these years. There is a recipe for Carrot Cake on page 76. Carrot cake sounds darned good this morning, but I have overripe, black-peeled bananas on the counter top. What shenanigans are going on here?
Thinking perhaps I have merely “mis-remembered” (as I often do these days) what page banana bread is on, I search the index for the banana bread recipe. Page 56. See, just a little slip of the memory. Nothing to worry about. All is right in the world.
Turning to page 56, I see this pristine page.
No dried splatters of batter on the page, no smudges or creases. Clean as a whistle. This is clearly not my cookbook – my well-used, much-loved cookbook. The cookbook with pineapple upside-down cake batter and brownie batter spattered on their respective pages. With the dinner roll recipe to die for. This cookbook, it appears, has never even been opened before this day.
My eyes moisten but I bravely gather my ingredients and navigate my way through the unfamiliar recipe (much different than the recipe I remember), for I know what has happened.
You see, when I moved to Florida nearly a year ago, I had to combine two complete households into one. The home we moved into was even smaller (thus the need for a sewing room/office/bead studio/library/window to the world being all in one room) and had belonged to my in-laws.
My mother-in-law could not cook, with or without a cookbook. Just thinking about her cooking often gave people a stomach-ache. She prepared her chicken by first washing it with dish soap – a dish my boys laughingly referred to as “Chicken Palmolive”. Not surprisingly, I often volunteered to bring dinner or do the cooking, and fortunately for us all, she loved to go out to eat. We were always happy to oblige.
But she had owned a newer version of the same cookbook I owned. I remembered seeing them side by side during the chaos that was the sorting/donating/tossing phase of the move, and setting one aside to be donated. It is now gone forever. The one that was mine.
I know it was just a cookbook, and I do have a replacement, but I still feel like a friend is gone. It was a wedding gift and we had been through a lot together. Cookbooks will go the way of all books, I fear, digitalized and transmitted electronically. Recipes are available by the millions on-line in our paperless society. Do young brides even get cookbooks as gifts?
The loss of the cookbook is representative of the changes I’ve been through in the last year. The loss of old and dear friends, familiar belongings, and a comfortable career. The year has been spent learning to embrace things new and different – exploring and adjusting. Growing.
So I dried my eyes and stopped sniffling. I put on my happy face. Then I enjoyed some really excellent banana bread, compliments of my mother-in-law, and Better Homes and Gardens.