Zack and I got some incredible wedding gifts when we got married last month. I can't even begin to express how thankful we are for the generosity of so many friends and family. It kind of blows my mind to think about it to be perfectly honest because we certainly got way more than we deserved. I think one of my very favorite gifts though, is one that came just yesterday from my Aunt Becky (Mom's sister) to our new house here in New Orleans.
She sent me a collection of all of the old family recipes she has collected over the years. Some of them are ones that my Nanny gave her when she got married, some have been passed down through the years from as far back as my great grandmothers, and still others are ones that my mom has shared with her at some point. As I flipped through the stack of index cards, I saw recipes for some of my favorite foods in the whole world--things I've grown up eating for years, and probably taken for granted because Mom, or Nanny, or whoever was preparing them at the time, seemed to cook them up with such ease. There's a recipe from my great grandmother for her paper-thin sugar cookies that actually no one in the family can make quite like she does, there's a recipe for my Nanny's Italian creme cake that has become a Christmas staple in our family, and the light-as-a feather angel biscuits that my mom made for me and Leah all the time when we were growing up. How awesome is that?!?
Maybe its because I do have a teeny, tiny sentimental side (I know, I know--who would have thought, right?), or maybe it's just because I like to cook and bake so much, but I'm terribly excited to have all these little pieces of family history to keep and share in the years to come. I think there's as much emotion and memory tied to food as there is to anything else in life. How often do we associate milestone events with the food that we ate that day? At least in my family, certain foods just mean something and there's nothing else in the world that can serve as a proper substitute. Sunday mornings before church mean cinnamon rolls. Thanksgiving is turkey of course, but more importantly it means Nanny's homemade yeast rolls and stuffing. Christmas is country ham so salty you can't eat more than a tiny slice without swelling up like a balloon (Zack made the mistake of eating a bunch of ham right before bed the first Christmas he spent with my family and he woke up in the middle of the night with his tongue dried to the roof of his mouth). My dad always has a homemade pound cake on his birthday, and a football season just isn't a football season without my Grandad's fried chicken at at least one tailgate. There's as much of my family history and comforting childhood memories in this little box as there is in anything else I own. I have no doubt that its going to take years and years of practice on my part to obtain the level of expertise with these recipes that I'm so accustomed to from eating them over the years, and some I may never be able to master at all (Grandmother's sugar cookies most likely fall in this category). But I'm ok with that. If these things were that easy to make, they probably wouldn't be nearly as delicious as they are and luckily, Zack is a very willing taste-tester for me so I should be able to get lots and lots of practice.