Did you include the recipe for our mother’s Fruit Salad? One brother asks me. Her Baked Pheasant? Another brother chimes in. Her Strawberry Shortcake? That’s my sister.
No, no, and no. Sorry, guys.
Although food is at the heart of my memoir, Lost Without the River, I didn’t want it to be a cookbook. I didn’t want to tell how to prepare the food, but rather how it came to be on our table. Of how my family planted, tilled, and harvested food from the fields, and plucked berries and vegetables from the woods and our garden. With work suspended for a short time, we sat down to dine on freshly picked sweet corn, heavenly whipped cream fluffed from the top of unpasteurized, non-homogenized milk that our grass-fed cows had produced, fish we’d caught in our river only minutes before. We savored each bite, acutely aware of the effort it had taken to get it onto our plates.
Each neighboring farmwife was known for her baking specialty. My mother’s? Her sweet rolls, heavily perfumed with cinnamon and dotted with not-too-sweet frosting, her pies, with fresh berries or fruit peeking through the crust of the flaky pastry shells, and her angel food cake topped with berries and some of that divine whipped cream.
Now many decades after my mother opened the door of the wood-burning stove for the last time, when my siblings and I gather, at dining table or in a diner, and bread or dessert is served, the spirited conversation stops and immediately shifts to “Remember our mother’s ….”
So when you read Lost Without the River carefully, you may be able to learn how to reproduce my mother’s famous baked beans. At least, as well as I did.
And, if you‘re willing to search for wild plums and locate a wood-burning stove to bake your own bread, and then find cream with the thickness and flavor of ours, you just may be able to make a stone’s throw version of my mother’s famous wild plum cobbler. Good luck!
Thanks for stopping by to share your food for thought, Barbara!
Photo by Nina Subin
BARBARA HOFFBECK SCOBLIC began her writing career as a reporter for The Argus Leader in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She now lives and writes in New York City.