I’m writing this holding a sick Sam (again. I should probably add a category for that. This time it’s a sore throat, though, and not the ears. With the standard accompanying cold) He’s taking an unscheduled nap, because he basically passed out when we got home from seeing the doctor. Since sleep has also been an unscheduled event lately I decided to just go with it, and to fervently hope he agrees to the scheduled nap later this afternoon. I will just tell myself he is building a strong immune system and I am building strong arm muscles and go with that.
Yesterday would have been my grandmother’s birthday. I was wading through my badly organized photographs and found these of her with Rachel and with Adam, what feels like a very long time ago. I think of her often. She was the most determined person I have ever known (read: stubborn) and she was also seriously fun when I was little. She broke the rules just enough that you thought you were getting away with something big and that is of course one of the best feelings ever when you are a little child. The distance between us in miles was always great (especially after I moved to New England, as she lived in Mississippi), but we talked frequently on the phone, until the end of her illness. She was always there (truly. She cared for her elderly mother day in and out for years, and I can count on one hand the number of times I called and did not find her at home), and I loved our conversations.
She wrote notes and cards, and frequently slipped in a little money, “for you to do something fun.” I still find her notes popped into cookbooks or packed away in odd places. I often still have a quick desire to call her, when someone has special news.
Cooking wasn’t her favorite thing, but she always made special treats. I remember her fixing creamed corn, slicing tons of beautiful red tomatoes, one memorable day when she grabbed the wrong bag of Gulf shrimp from her freezer and made a massive shrimp boil. I had never before (and have never since) eaten all the shrimp I want. She would make sweets for us when we visited. I especially remember a “turtle cake,” for which I got to open about five million caramel candies.
She loved to travel, though she never got to go to all the places she planned. She loved the mountains, and especially the beach, collecting shells whenever she could. I have a jar of her shells sitting on my mantel. We take it down and admire it regularly.
Mississippi was hot and it was a long drive. We went to see her and my great-grandmother every summer and I remember playing out early in the mornings, curling up indoors with a book the rest of the time. We’d check out piles and piles from the local library. She came to see us, too, and I never knew what day she would arrive– what a thrill it was, to be walking home from school and to see her big white car parked in front of the house.
My mom checked her recipe box and the turtle cake recipe isn’t there. Neither of us remembers it having evaporated milk, but the recipes I found on a quick search all seem to have evaporated/condensed milk of some variety. This is the closest I found (the picture looks right, and it doesn’t have much condensed milk.) I think I’m going to play around with our favorite easy chocolate cake, and add a layer of caramel in the middle, and see if I can make something a little bit like what I remember.
Although it won’t be the same.