Last night I cooked my first dinner in my new house. The dish I cooked was from a recipe of my mother's, one I used to request often for my birthday dinner. About a (many) years ago, my mom requested that I type the recipe for her. I'm not sure why I did so on a sheet of her employer's stationery, but that's where it is. I remember setting the tabs on the typewriter in her home office before beginning the task. The result of that request landed beneath a push-pin on the inside of the cabinet just to the right of the stove at our family cabin. If stayed there, right above the handwritten recipe for Aunt Edna's pecan pie, for years. Recently, I relocated the recipe, its paper yellowed with age and spotted with grease, from that cabinet door to a shelf in my kitchen pantry.
The dish is a chicken and artichoke casserole. It has a fabulous smell while it's in the oven and a unique taste that I love and only last night realized to be the combined flavors of lemon juice, tarragon and cooking sherry. I hadn't made it in years, and last night as I was preparing it, doubling the artichokes as always, I felt such a wonderful connection to my mother. It was a connection not through the piece of paper but from preparing a meal that she used to prepare, from smelling the tarragon and pouring the sherry. I was struck by how wonderful it is how a special recipe can connect us to the past, can connect us to memories and people in our hearts. This time was particularly special as I made the casserole in the same dutch oven that she used all those times she cooked my favorite birthday dinner.
And the bonus? I have leftovers!