Every year for my birthday my Nanny would call me and sing to me- usually early in morning before I was all the way awake- and we would laugh and chat for at least an hour. Then in September, her birthday would come and I would return the sentiment... it was tradition. Until this year. This year, I didn't get a birthday call from Nanny, and I missed it. Today is Nanny's 85th birthday- and I actually picked up the phone and dialed the number before it hit me. I laid in bed and cried for a while, then heard her get on to me for wallowing. She told me to get up and wash my face and go DO something. So here's what I did today...
Today I remembered.
I remembered meals spent around her table, I remembered all the times I'd stand next to her in the kitchen while she explained how she made something. I remembered all the smells of good food, the warmth of her kitchen and her arms, and the love that I felt every single moment I was in her presence.
I remembered. And I cooked.
Today I cooked that meal. THE meal. The meal I've talked about, the one that tastes of love and home and is full of way too many calories and so much comfort you could just burst with it. This is the meal Nanny cooked almost every time we visited. I learned by watching and by listening to her explain how to get the perfect caramelized crust on the pork roast and when to add the sauerkraut, how to season the field peas with bacon-y salty goodness, and how to make sweet potatoes so good they make you want to eat them straight out of the skillet -and I did- still do- and burn my mouth every time but I just can't wait so I keep doing it.
I cooked. I remembered. I cried. And I enjoyed every single bite all the while wishing with everything inside me that she was here and enjoying it with me- but more than that, I wish I could serve her a meal made with all the love I have.
So here you go... here's THE meal... hope you enjoy!
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Now I've saved the best for last.... and before I reveal the family secret... you have to pinky swear, super duper spy handshake swear, to never tell a soul how this works. Deal? Ok, here goes nothing.
Remember our deal...
Serve this up with a healthy dose of family time around the table, lots of conversation, laughter, and love. It's a simple meal, with simple ingredients, but the memories created around this spread can last a lifetime. Thank you, Nanny.
Happy Birthday, my sweet beautiful grandmother... you are missed and loved more than words can say.