Finally ready to start…

In another life, I taught ESL and lived in Brooklyn.  I met my husband there and we have shared a love of food and cooking for many years.  Now I find myself in Charlotte, North Carolina with two children, who aren’t so little anymore and a bit of time on my hands. 

Last year there was no time for idleness or reflection.  My mom was ill with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) and it seemed to fill all headspace and time.  Separated by a seven-hour drive, the time I wasn’t there, I worried and wished I were there; when I was there I was in that moment – there was no place else to be.  My mother who loved food and could remember every meal she’d ever eaten could no longer swallow.  One of the last things she ate was a chocolate doberge cake from Haydel’s bakery in New Orleans.

She passed away in June.  My sister and I talked about a cookbook – compiling Mom’s recipes for everyone, but we weren’t able to think about it or do anything about it.  Thanksgiving was the worst with her birthday just a day before.   Christmas was a little better, then thank God, a brand new year.

I’ve started thinking about the cookbook, looking at publishers, organizing it, etc.  There is  a huge accordion folder of recipes that have been sitting in my basement for 8 months that I’m ready to go through.

For Christmas 2010, I gave myself Dorie Greenspan’s “Around My French Table” and fell in love with it.  Not only did the food look beautiful, her writing was gorgeous.  I remember sitting down for an hour just reading it.  Recently, I heard her on NPR talking about “Tuesdays with Dorie” – a group of bloggers who have cooked their way through an entire cookbook together.   So I thought that while I am working with my mom’s recipes, I would start expanding my own culinary skills with the group as they tackle “Baking with Julia”.

I plan to start baking with group in February…in the meantime I’m working on the cookbook and thinking that I’d like to have it done in June – the first anniversary of her death.  It may be too ambitious – I guess we’ll have to see.

For me, writing it down is always a beginning – a committment, a promise to go forward.  So, I wonder what will happen next?

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This entry was posted in Cooking.

5 comments on “Finally ready to start…

  1. Mia says:

    This is wonderful!!! I know you have it in you to do the cookbook – what a truly special way to honor your fabulous mother. As for the second part of your journey, baking through an entire cookbook and “Baking with Julia” nonetheless!!!! Well, all I can say is I wish I were closer to sample some of your results. I’ll be looking forward to read all about both ambitious endeavors.

  2. Judy collins says:

    Jenn, what a great idea! Thanks for sharing your beautiful story. I spoke just yesterday to some friends about Darryl’s and my friendship and the fun we would have when we were together. It’s a blessing to have my memories and the ability to share in your family’s memories.

    How are you going to handle the recipe sharing?

    • jennrag says:

      I think I am going to start with all of the recipes she loved – I have a HUGE accordion folder to go through. Once I see how many there are, I’ll have a better idea of how many to ask for from contributors. But Miss Judy, I am betting that you have some recipes that Mom loved (the quilt group must have some from all your trips to the beach) and you are welcome to share those any time.

  3. What a lovely way to memorialize your mother. Good luck with the cookbook. Last year I also bought Around the French Table and consistently am blown away that the food always tastes as good as the photographs look. 🙂

  4. Jenn Ragland says:

    Thanks for the encouragement! I love Dorie Greenspan’s cookbooks – you could just get lost in reading them.

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