pickles and yams

by Kristen

I reached for my recipe book—the one my sister-in-law created before I moved to Las Vegas. It holds 101 hand-written recipes from people who love me. Some with illustrations.

Recipes 17-21 are from Grandma: Fudge Cake, Kookie Brittle, Dinner-in-a-dish, Sweet Kosher Pickles and Candied Yams. At the bottom of each page, she added a note.

Tuesday morning I needed the pickle recipe. I double-checked ingredients and made my list. Thanksgiving was coming, and it demanded a relish tray of Grandma’s pickles. Grandpa and I can finish the whole tray—maybe the jar—ourselves. A trip to Grandma’s always meant a pickle or eight. And I can’t count the number of birthdays or Christmases I received a jar of pickles just for me. My eyes drifted past the recipe to the note: “To my pickle eater—this recipe came from a friend of Grandma Weinz and she was a Home Ec. teacher.”

Then my eyes settled on the Candied Yams recipe. I’ve never made them myself. Maybe because of the note: “Kristen—this may be ‘testy’ a time or two around but you will do well. Aunt Verlyn (my sis) gave this recipe to me and we agree—Thanksgiving dinner wouldn’t be the same w/o it.”

No, no it would not. Thanksgiving. It’s the day I can’t put into words. My favorite holiday. My favorite meal. My favorite people. It’s thick with tradition and layered in memories. Like Grandma. Try as I may to capture the essence, the voice, the import . . . there aren’t enough words to paint love on a page.


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