If you’re a long-time reader of Country Lines, you are probably familiar with our recipes section. Most of us who write for the magazine joke that, no matter what we do, our columns will never be as popular as those darn recipes.
And, we’re really not joking at all. When it comes to creating emotional attachment and joy, it’s hard to compete with food.
My fondest holiday memories are of my grandmother bustling around in our kitchen, preparing food for our family. Cooking for us was one of the ways she nurtured her loved ones. My mom’s mom was a phenomenal cook (my mom is, too). And there is nothing that I loved more than my grandma’s pumpkin chiffon pie.
Every year I would get two chances to enjoy that pie—Thanksgiving and Christmas. My mom, while nearly perfect, does have one flaw—she hates pie. She never made them, she never ate them. It was only when grandma came to town that we got pie.
My grandmother passed away suddenly in between Thanksgiving and Christmas in 1994. That Christmas, armed with an old recipe box filled with 3×5 recipe cards, my mom made us grandma’s pumpkin chiffon pie. Kind of.
Something went amok with the crust and it ended up very salty. And, because she doesn’t like pie, she didn’t know. And, because she had just lost her mother and we were all grieving, we didn’t tell her.
Instead, my whole family—aunts, uncles, cousins and my grandfather just quietly ate that pie and remembered the woman who had cooked it for us for years.
Eventually, my mom figured out her salt to sweet ratios and perfected her pies. I don’t want to speak for her, but I would imagine that process was a way of keeping her mother’s legacy alive.
And, like her mother before her, she cooks for us to show us her love. I still remember a call I got from my mom as I was cramming for my finals during my freshman year of college. She was on her way and she had something to give me to help me make it through my exams. She drove hours to deliver me a perfect pumpkin chiffon pie.
My mom still has an old recipe box, filled with handwritten recipe cards. Some in my grandma’s script, some in hers.
Like many families, this legacy of recipes passed down from one generation to another is ingrained into the fabric of our family history. That recipe box is essentially a family tree of food that can be traced for decades into the past and, hopefully, into the future.
If you’ve made it this far, I guess I’ve finally found a way to compete with the almighty recipe. Or, maybe recipes resonate so much because of the family stories they often represent. That is certainly the case with my grandma’s pumpkin chiffon pie.
If this column has you craving some dessert, head on over to our recipe website (micoopkitchen.com) and look for “Grandma Bruce’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie.”