In my Mother's kitchen were four drawers that I especially remember: The lower, deep one which held the long accumulation of neatly-folded grocery bags, used for lots of things. Fried chicken just tasted better after a good bag-shake in the seasoned flour, before the golden-sizzle in the black skillet. And another bag just jumped onto the platter for draining-duty, as well---even the most kitchen-proud cooks set out that paper-lined dish, with its translucent grease-stains, right there on the Sunday Dinner table, as big as you please.
That good sturdy brown paper was handy for cutting small sections of patterns, such as sleeves or yokes, for kid-crafts of all kinds, from kites to paper dolls, and even just two eye-holes clipped with a quick nip of the scissors, well, that kind of mask/head dress would serve for all sorts of flights of the imagination.
(The year the whole town discovered luminaria, weighted with everything from rocks to sand to cat-litter, is another story).
The deep middle drawer with the neatly-folded dishcloths was a luxurious thing to me---I kept one of my own, as well, and the year of the ice storm, when we'd taken in a family of four for more than a week, with no running water and having to take turns driving over to the neighbors to shower, the sight of Daddy at my door with several bags of milk and eggs and board games and an enormous bag of those fluffy white dish towels---I cannot tell you. I'd just leave the flurry of the company and cooking and all those beds, and just go open the drawer and gaze in at all those orderly folds, and be soothed.
Then there was Mother's Apron Drawer, with all the handiwork and rickrack and fancy pockets and patterns. I never did wear aprons much myself (though I do every day now, but not those or that kind---mine are the plain old serviceable bib kind, three in a pack, from the "restaurant" aisles of Sam's). Plus, for special, a couple of works-of-art ones, hand-made by my friend Maggie.
When Daddy called us all back the year after Mother died, to come claim whatever we wanted from the house, I made a bee-line for the Apron Drawer and the Recipe Drawer, upended them both into boxes, and headed right for the truck.
One of the benefits of the store-room cleaning last year was the unearthing of the "recipe box." I knew it was in there, right over there somewhere in front of the big shelves of jams and jellies, and beneath the cases of paper towels and the WalMart tubs of seasonal clothes. I lifted a box, felt the not-too-substantial heft (a good part of that all those TASTE OF HOME magazines), and had a little ping of anticipation. When I ran the knife through the strips of crackly yellowed tape and lifted the lid, there was THIS, right on top:
and I knew I'd found treasure.
Everybody seemed to have one of these, right along with the Avocado or Harvest Gold appliances (those above are our OWN HG countertops in Caro's 60s kitchen upstairs). This snazzy little red polyester number covered my Mother's bottle of Palmolive, standing sentry at the sink for probably twenty years.
The picture makes me smile, for it’s a fairly good approximation of me, standing there round and comfy in that little apron at the sink, and if you squint your eyes just right, you may see the semblance of a browny-gray bun atop the little head.
The recipes, I'll deal with in times to come, with reminiscences and making-for-old-times'-sake (I just typo-ed sake into CAKE---apt, for I was hoping for ONE particular recipe. I thought I'd never, ever forget how to make that pink-marbled pound cake I made practically every Saturday of my teens, but it's flitted far away into Time). I've already made a few of the old favorites, old cravings for just that one taste. The Squash Pickles were one of the very first made, and they were a nice surprise for the children last Christmas.
The familiar card, in Mother's back-slant, born-left-handed, made-to-learn-to-write-with-the-"right"-hand, dagnabbit-did-what-she-pleased-when-she-got-grown writing, with the bonus of being able to use either quite well:
Nice memory, and a nice addition to our Christmas table, just because.