Sunday, June 3, 2012

Passing recipes on

My mom and me at 8 yrs old.

I had a bunch of organic apples that were too soft to eat but not spoiled yet and I didn't want to turn them into applesauce or chutney or compote or any of the mushy fruit type of saves, so I decided to just cut them up and toss them in a saute pan with brown sugar, butter and some brandy and caramelize them just to prevent them from all going bad.  Then I started thinking that there was too much to do the typical thing of having them with ice cream or making an apple crisp or something and I started thinking about the way my mother used to make apple pie.  She never made traditional pie dough but she would make her sugar cookie recipe which wasn't a typical sugar cookie recipe it was crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside.  The only thing was that she wouldn't cook the apples first so sometimes if the apples had a lot of water content it would get mushy the next day.   Once I got older I learned the trick of adding some flour to the apples to thicken up the juices.  She would add lemon juice and brandy to flavour and prevent from discolouring but it would add a lot more liquid to it.  Although the flavour was great.

Later on when I was more food savvy I would cook the apples to caramelize it and then my mother would add it to the pie.  I used to help her make it but I never paid much attention to the measurements and only to the ingredients that went into it.   Now I wish I had paid more attention because the recipe isn't written down anywhere as my mother wasn't the best note taker and because she didn't have much education she wasn't  and organized person.   So why don't I just ask her how to make it?  Well I can't anymore.   You see my mother was diagnosed with Dementia about 7 years ago. My mother wasn't one to have all of her recipes written up in a nice book or recipe box and she only had the odd recipe that she had written down from someone else's recipe.  It would be written on a scrap piece of paper in pencil and my mother's not so legible handwriting.  I only wrote down a couple of recipes that my mother made because most of the things weren't exact measurements every time and she would change things up once in a while.  There were a few recipes she baked and was known for making.  Sugar cookies, chiffon cake, chocolate mousse and after she started winding down on those recipes she became obsessed with frying wontons and adding icing sugar on top of them.  She would hand them out to everyone at her bank, drug store and doctor's office.  That was the only thing she remembered how to do.   I should have realized that she had lost most of her memory when she stopped doing that.  I thought it was because people were telling her to stop making them, but as I look back now I think she probably started to forget how to make everything.

She passed away last April after being in a long term care facility for a year and a half.  I never really had the chance to ask her things like recipes and info about relatives and now it's too late.  My mother's best friend is still alive and is younger than my mother so I try and ask her if she remembers any of the recipes but she only knows some of them so some of the recipes are lost in my family forever now.

Today it made me realize the value of PASSING ON RECIPES to family members and carrying them forward to future generations.  I remember a lot of the recipes but not all of them and since I don't have any kids they will be gone after I am gone unless I write them in a cookbook or pass them on to friends or in this blog.  I will do my best to try and document any such recipes as I carry on writing these blog posts.

So my advice to all of you cooks and bakers is to write down your precious recipes and pass them on.  Even if they are simple but someone loves them try to document them somehow.    I actually have the last batch of wontons my mother ever made in my first film "Potluck".  I used them in a funny scene because of the powdered sugar on top they made a mess when you would take a bite so I used that in a scene and used the actual wontons my mother made.   That was the last time she ever made any and I didn't even know it at the time.

People make fun of people that post photos of food and talk about food.  But once again my thought is that food is universal and is meant to be shared.

Pass on those recipes before it's too late.

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