She kept a Betty Crocker cookbook tucked beneath the base of the cordless phone. It was tattered and stained and bulging at the spine from all the coupons and recipes that had been tucked inside the pages over the years. The margins were full of notes like, “Ran out of shallots, substituted garlic and red onion, turned the sauce purple — 06/04/2001″ and “Ruined the pot roast when I let the garlic seer too hot — 10/12/2004.”
That book was the first item they bought together, at a sleepy bookstore in Yellowstone, because everything else was closed in Yellowstone during the November shoulder season. It was the purchase of youth and optimism and happily ever after – a reminder of the same book her mother had kept, and her mother before that – and the promise of a life she planned to make.
Then came shopping lists, and budgets, and a doubling of cookie dough batters and halving of béchamels, and children who wouldn’t eat beef bourguignon. And the book became a promise and an obligation, as it’s red plaid cover sat and waited and offered wise and timeless counsel.
There were dinner parties for promotions desired and barbecues for the homecoming of good friends. And, of course, it being Utah, there were hams and cheesy potatoes, and soft fluffy rolls on Sunday, and smudges of flour on the picture of a perfectly crafted ratatouille. If you were curious and looked closely you could also see a splash of red wine on the pumpkin pie recipe – the first year she cooked Thanksgiving dinner.
That book told the story of a life attained and a life hoped for. It reminded her of a thousand failures and a few moments of perfection. In a house full of life and love it provided the inspiration for moments of gathering around the cherry wood dining table to talk about the inane and the important.
When her son brought home a girl and announced that “This is the one!” the book was bought again as a gift – new and full of promise – and ready for another woman to learn the secrets that come with the making of a home.
- Marginalia has a new home. (fogus.me)
- Orange you glad you read this? (mrspotandmrlid.wordpress.com)
- What is Time… That you speak of it so subserviently? Are we to be the slaves of the sun, that second-hand, overrated knob of gilt, or of his sister, that fatuous circle of silver paper? A curse upon their ridiculous dictatorship! Mervyn Peake (oldsaltbooks.wordpress.com)