Growing up, I loved Mrs. McIntyre’s homemade apple pie. She did not make it very often because it was labor intensive, but when she did, I always seemed to find out; you know, I did live directly next door and her son was my best friend. Patrick would happen to mention that his mom was baking and my ears would perk up.
“Oh yeah, what’s she baking?” I would ask. I would put my hand behind my back and cross my fingers. Please say apple pie. Please say apple pie. Please say apple pie.
Usually, it would be cookies or some kind of cake. However, every once in a while, my dream would come true. The finger crossing would work.
Later that evening or the next day, I would saunter over to hangout with Patrick. But, I never did hangout with Patrick on these days. I would go into the kitchen and talk with Mrs. McIntyre. After a few minutes, she would say, “Honey, would you like a piece of pie?”
My mouth would water just hearing her say the words. “If it’s not too much trouble.”
She would smile and pat my head, then she would slice a piece and place it in the oven to warm it. I could already taste it just by the aroma coming from the oven. When she put it in front of me, I would eat it slowly, savoring each bite. The apples were crisp, the crust was perfectly flaky, and the hint of cinnamon mixed perfectly with the sugars. It was the most delicious dessert I have ever tasted in my life.
My mother was a wonderful cook and she had many good recipes, but my favorite was her jambalaya. As my mother got older, she became more experimental with heat, and she liked to add spicy sausage to this recipe. The first time I tasted it, I could not believe the flavor explosion in my mouth. It was spicy, flavorful, and hot. I always had to drink two glasses of water while eating it, but I didn’t mind; it was that good.
My mom put most recipes on a monthly rotation. When I moved out, I gaged when I thought she would be cooking jambalaya. I would call her to complain about not having groceries, and she would say, “You can come for dinner if you want?”
I was expecting this response. She always said this, but I still loved to hear it. “Thanks, Mom. I would love too,” I would say. Then nonchalantly I would add, “What are you cooking?” Again, I would cross my fingers hoping that I had picked the right day.
“Well, if you don’t mind.” Unbeknownst to her, I was high-fiving myself in my kitchen.
Those evenings, I would enjoy a good meal and a few hours with my parents. Upon leaving, I would be handed a Tupperware container full of my favorite meal.
“Mom, are you sure?”
My dad would chime in. “Oh you know how your mother cooks. It’s just the two of us, and she still cooks for an army. Take it so I don’t have to eat it for the next three days.” He would wink at my mother.
She would roll her eyes. “Oh, Richie. I don’t know how to cook any other way.”
My husband does not cook often. He makes a mean pork loin, and he can grill with the best of ’em. However, his best recipe is his chili. People love his chili. Whenever we have parties, Tom makes it, and people will go back for bowl after bowl.
This past weekend, I was at my friend’s house, and somehow, Tom’s chili recipe came up in conversation.
“I love your chili,” Scott said to me.
“Oh, it’s not my chili,” I corrected. “It’s Tom’s recipe.”
“Well, it’s delicious.”
“It is odd that you brought it up. We were just at the grocery store today. We bought the ingredients for Tom to make a batch tomorrow.” I truly did think the timing was uncanny.
“What time is lunch?”
The next morning, Tom got up and started the laborious process of combining the ingredients. (At this point, you are expecting for me to tell you what is in the chili, what makes it so good, but I am not going to do it.)
Around noon, it was ready. I jokingly texted Scott from Tom’s phone. Here is the succession of our conversation:
Me: The chili is ready for pick-up.
Scott: What, no delivery?
Me: Pick-up only.
Scott: What about dine-in?
The conversation came to an abrupt holt. No response, so I assumed he was just playing around, but something deep inside of me said, “He might just show. He might come for chili!”
After washing the dishes, I decided I needed to run to Target. You know, being low on toilet paper is never a good idea. I ran up to the store and picked up a few items. When I turned on my street 45 minutes later, Scott’s truck was in the driveway. I was elated.
“You’re here!” I said walking into the livingroom.
Scott was watching the Ohio State game with Tom, enjoying a bowl of chili with Fritos in it. (Okay, really? You have never put Fritos in your chili? It is heaven! You can thank me later.)
“I heard you had a dine-in option, so I couldn’t resist,” he said.
Not only was he going to enjoy lunch with us, but he purposely brought a plastic container so he could take some home as well.
Today, Tom told me that Scott asked him for the recipe. I said, “No.”
“Why?” Tom asked. I think he thought I was being selfish.
“If you cook it, they will come, that’s why.”
Tom laughed on the other end of the phone.
“I mean it. It is something people enjoy, and it is something that makes people want to come over and hangout with us. So no, you cannot give the recipe away.”
When I hung up with Tom, I called Scott. I told him the same thing.
“Okay,” he said. “I would be happy to be a guest whenever Tom cooks it.”