Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Secret Family Recipe

He handed me a sheet of paper as I entered.  I took a glance - this was it!  This was the Sweet Potato Pie recipe!  Pop's Sweet Potato Pies are legendary.  As a child, I took them for granted - it was just the pie my father baked.  Others raved.  When he baked them for family or church functions, they quickly disappeared.  As an adult, I really appreciate the pies.  Recently, he baked 18 pies.  It was a multiple day effort.  The pies were gone in moments at a church function.  This was the recipe I held in my hands.  Pop had never shared it - not even with his children.  Having it was like a license to print money.  I folded the paper and put it away.

We were gathered at my father's house for Thanksgiving.  After a wonderful meal, out came a few pies.  My siblings ask when Pop would share the recipe.  I was silent.  Pop was not.  "I just gave Chris a copy.  Do you want one too?" Pop asked.  My siblings all replied yes enthusiastically.  My license to print money was diminished, but it was ok.  Pop, went to his computer and printed a couple copies.  We all looked at the recipe.  Ah, the secret was sweetened condensed milk.  Oh, I thought I tasted a hint of ginger.  Then my sister asked the question "how many pies does the recipe make?"

Pop replied "That recipe makes four pies."  Wait.  Pop is very precise in his use of language.  "That recipe” This implies that there are others.  This implies that this is not "thee" recipe.  I asked.  Pop, with a twinkle in his eye, repeated his answer.  I asked a different question: "is this the recipe you used for these pies?"  Pop replied "pretty close.  Every recipe is just a starting point."

Pop is right.  He gave me a starting point.  I'm curious enough to try it and make adjustments.  My adjustments will make it my recipe.  And when the time is right, I will share it (mostly) with my daughters - giving them a starting point.

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