The theme of this month’s Writers Workshop was “A Story and a Recipe”
Here are the guidelines:
Its autumn and time for gathering friends and family in our homes. Its a time for searching for old recipes and for trying new ones. A time for finding pleasure and contentment in baking bread and cakes and cookies and in cooking meals for loved ones.
Have a closer look at the recipes you love: Is there a story connected with one of them? Is there one you got on a very special occasion? One you got from a special person? One you had to chase after for a long time?
Or just invent a story about a special meal in your home (somewhere in the world) or in a chalet or in a park or wherever – and the recipe that is connected with this meal.
And let us know more about this particular meal. Is there harmony? Fight? Two people falling in love? The disclosure of a secret? A sudden incident? A certain tradition with special food involved? And how is all that connected to the recipe you write about?
A Recipe to Remember
The women embraced at the door, their heads close, a mirror of the image that had sat on Chrissie’s mantelpiece for many years. In that photo they were girls, in their first week of school, clutching schoolbags and dreams for the future. Thirty years ago, but still recognisable. She was blonder and not quite as slim as she used to be, while her friend still had the glossy black swing of hair that she always envied. No amount of careful straightening would ever make her hair like Maggie’s hair.
“How are you? It is so great to see you”, Maggie’s Scottish lilt had not changed over the years, and her way of speaking, her voice raising slightly at the end of a sentence almost like a question.
Chrissie pulled back to look into Maggie’s eyes. Chocolate brown eyes, no longer short-sighted and in need of glasses since the operation last year. ‘I am so excited that you are here at last. No snow or volcano eruptions this year, thankfully. I was beginning to think that we were jinxed. Come on in’.
After a short tour of the house, Chrissie left Maggie to freshen up and went into the kitchen. With a pop the champagne bottle opened and she set it aside while she rinsed two glasses. She was pouring the golden liquid into the glasses as Maggie emerged from the guest room.
They toasted their friendship of 34 years and counting, then reminisced about their past.
‘Do you remember Linda Williams? She was in the year below us… you must remember her, she was the one who was caught in the broom cupboard snogging that third year, what was his name?’
‘Christopher! Yes, of course. Who could blame her, we all fancied him. Did he not go out with that blonde girl with the funny nose?’
As they chatted, Chrissie set a casserole dish on the stovetop, then chose a chopping board and a knife and began to prepare dinner. While the chicken simmered, she washed the vegetables. Maggie sat on the bar stool, sipping champagne.
‘How is your Dad doing? Has he got used to retirement yet, or is he driving your Mum up the wall?’ Chrissie enquired.
‘He is doing great. They have the kids twice a week so that keeps them young and fit. Running after three year old twins is good for that, at least. Are you sure I can’t help you with anything? I feel a bit redundant here. It feels strange to just sit and relax’.
‘Are you missing the kids?’ Chrissie peeked at the chicken, then added ham and stirred. A couple of spoons of flour went into the pot before she added milk and stirred, stirred, stirred.
‘Not missing the chaos. It does feel a bit funny to be able to sit and do nothing. On the plane, I was able to read without constantly stopping to wipe noses or intervene in arguments. It was bliss’.
Chrissie checked the oven temperature before draping the pastry topping onto the chicken, then popped the dish in the oven. She reached for the mixing bowl, then carefully weighed out the flour, spooned in baking powder and soda then added cheese and buttermilk. Maggie watched as the mixture was dropped into a muffin tray, which joined the chicken in the oven.
‘Right. We can go and sit outside and relax for a bit while that cooks’.
‘It is stunning out here’, Maggie exclaimed, ‘A nicer view that the one you had when you were growing up’.
‘True. The bakery isn’t the prettiest of vistas, although I always loved the smell of freshly baked bread. When I pass a bakery here, I take a deep breath, close my eyes and can almost see my Holly Hobby bedcovers and my faithful bear’.
‘It still smells like that. I notice it every time I go to visit your parents.’
‘I know that I am coming home when I smell bread. Maybe that is why I enjoy baking so much’.
They chatted in the slowly darkening garden, until the ding of the timer signalled that their meal was ready. The familiar ritual of setting the table and serving dinner was followed by a moment of silence as they took a first bite.
The silence didn’t last long. As the house settled around them, they exchanged news and gossip, remembered old friends and talked of plans for the future. It was fully dark by the time they moved over to the sofa, sinking down into the soft cushions and their memories.