Sunday, December 14, 2008
He who has gone, so we but cherish his memory, abides with us, more potent, nay, more present than the living man.
Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The life of the dead is placed in the memory of the living.
Cicero (Marcus Tullius Cicero)
I have been thinking a lot lately, - about life, about the glorious living of it, about life after, and about how long this life is perpetuated by those of us who remember, and those of us who care enough to preserve...
These thoughts first arose as I recalled my father on the 110th anniversary of his birth. All the small and intimate bits of knowledge that I have about him are in danger of being forgotten unless I can somehow convey them to those who will will live after me, and to those who have even a small portion of the love I felt/feel for him.
These thoughts were flitting through my mind as I prepared to do some baking for Christmas. I laid out the book of Small Town Secrets that the church ladies put together a few years back. After the submitted recipes and before the Hints and Tips, there is a section devoted to Nostalgia. Recipes that were copied from a book prepared by another generation of ladies who took pride in 'starting from scratch' and producing the lightest and the best!!
I came across Lucille Beecroft's recipe for Lemon Cheese for Tarts, and I remembered how perfectly top notch it was, - and then I remembered Lucille's small home, and the women she played bridge with - Margaret and Glady's and Agnes. All dear friends who are probably carrying on their game at some ethereal table. I smiled inside, and they were all alive for me again, - women I have loved.
Lemon Cheese for Tarts Lucille Beecroft
6 eggs, well beaten
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lemon juice
1/4 cup butter
Mix well together and cook in a double boiler until thick. Makes about 1 quart.
Margaret Ritchie's Welsh Cakes
2 cups sifted flour
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tsps baking powder
1/2 cup butter
1 1/4 cups currants softened in water and patted dry
2 eggs beaten
1 tsp vanilla
Mix dry ingredients and sift. Cut in butter to a coarse meal. Stir in beaten eggs and flavouring with a fork, making a soft dough. Knead 10 to 12 times. Roll out 1/3 inch thick.
Cut with cookie cutter and fry in electric fry pan (ungreased) at 340-360 degrees F - five to six moments each side. Serve buttered, with jelly or jam or cream cheese.
Margaret, with whom I have devoured these marvelous creations and who taught me that 'things will always be someway' - who was generous and kind and a friend our children loved. No problem passing on that love to future generations.
In my genealogy I came across a great-great Aunt, and the story told about her was that in the spring of the year she painted her front door yellow. And that she was the matriarch of a family called the 'Clean Clines'. And that her passion for cleaning fostered a love of the outdoors in her husband. Now I do not share that passion, but I know people whom I have loved who did/do, and so it is not hard for me to feel a certain wry fondness for this great-great Aunt of mine.
And as she is remembered with affection so does she live on???
Above the recipe for Lemon Cheese for Tarts is a recipe for Cheese Moons such as my pseudo Aunt Molly used to make. I remembered my mother telling me that if I wanted to learn how to iron with style I should get Molly to teach me. How do I convey to others an appreciation for this skill she had, her special friendship with my mother, the essence of her 1930's home? Who do I tell who will keep this memory alive?
Perhaps tomorrow I will make some Welsh Cakes. The grandchildren love them, and it would be nice to have Margaret's spirit close for Christmas.