Family Recipes are more than food. More than a formula that results in something you put in your mouth.
They are smells. They are cherished memories. They are traditions. They are connections to our past and give us a promise for the future. They are yummy. They are healing.
Emotions manifested into something edible.
Linda P told me her family’s story and it has all the ingredients; struggle, love, healing, and sharing.
Here is my interview with Linda:
Linda: I have two sons. They both like to cook. My son had been very sick. He has been off work a lot and wanted to learn to make this and that.
He said, "You need to make a recipe book with all the things in it."
And I said, "Oh, that takes so much time. I'll have to type all that up. It'll take me forever."
And he said, "Just the ones we like," and he said, "Do it for Christmas. You've got almost a year."
And I thought, "Well, if I'm making him one, I'll have to make the other son one," because he cooks even more. And I might as well make one for myself.”
I thought, "Well, I will just start typing them"
I knew I wanted to put them into sheet protectors. And the Ahh Hah! Family Recipe Organizer Kit is the only one I could find where the tabs would show outside the protectors.
I choose recipes that they remember and the ones that they like. He doesn't know that I'm finishing it for his birthday in May. He thinks it's Christmas.
He has come over three times to learn to make apple pie. Last week, he wanted a lesson on pepper steak. We've done several things because he wants to learn how to do it. So far, I've typed up 50-something recipes.
Linda: At least. A lot. He was just very sick. He's kind of doing this to get it off his mind because it isn't over yet.
Holly: Well, food is comfort, and food brings back good memories, and it has it's own healing properties.
Linda: Right. He does know how to cook. He's made cakes and he'll grill in the summertime. Now he's learned to make the apple pie pretty good. Actually, his is prettier than mine.
Holly: Oh my goodness. Does he do all that making of his own dough, and crust, and everything?
Linda: Yes. I have a recipe that I use. It's very, very good, and everyone's always liked it. You make the crust, roll it out, make the pie. He's very good at it.
Holly: Now, do you share your apple pie recipe or is this a family secret?
Linda: Oh, no I share it. But no one wants to do it because it's so much work.
Holly: Well, but handmade stuff is all that much better.
Linda: It is. I was very young when I learned to make this. Probably in my 20s. I tried pie crust and it'd always tear, and break, and never work. And this lady, a friend's sister, taught me this one. There's so much in it. Let's see if I can remember. There's half a stick of margarine, fourth a cup of Crisco, and a stick of butter in one pie crust.
Holly: Oh my. Well, that should give it lots of cohesion.
Linda: It does not tear, and it's very flaky.
Holly: It sounds magnificent. What are the names of your sons?
Linda: Steven and Michael.
Holly: Steven and Michael. Was it Steven that had the--
Linda: Yes. Yes.
Holly: Tell me more about that.Linda: He wasn't feeling good at work in October, dizzy and tired. When he went to the doctor and they found that he had a very, very low heart rate. They called it Bradycardia. He had to have a pacemaker put in. And he's only 49.
He had the pacemaker put in. It went fine. They did it in one day, stayed overnight, went home the next. And a couple of days later, he got a really bad headache.
It was really bad.
Finally went to the emergency room.
We were thinking something to do with a pacemaker. Maybe he's rejecting it or whatever. But he'd been acting funny and just not right. And while we were there, he had a mild seizure.
I was talking to him and he was staring at me for a few minutes. So then they knew it's not the pacemaker. They did a scan. He had a brain bleed.
They're getting real upset and nervous saying it could be this, it could be that. But what it turned out to be, he had a very, very high allergy. They give you Heparin, a blood thinner, before heart surgery. And only 3 to 5% of people are allergic to it and have a reaction. He had the worst they've ever seen. He had the brain bleed.
Then they found a clot in his lungs. That cleared up.
But they also found, he had a small stroke. He had a clot in his brain. It starts at the top of the head, in a vein, it goes all the way down to the neck. That one will take months to clear up. We see doctors constantly.
They're all amazed that he actually pulled through it. I mean, technically, they said he could have died with either one. And it's just been very…
They said they've never seen a reaction that bad. Ever. Plus it did all that damage. He had double vision for a while because of the pressure on the optic nerve. That's okay now. He's doing better. It's just the clot will take months to dissolve.
Holly: And this is all been since last October?
Linda: November 1st. November 6th, he had the surgery for the pacemaker. And that went fine. It's just the allergies. He was in intensive care two different times for a week. It was tricky because with the brain bleed, they didn't want to give him a blood thinner. But then when he had the clot, they kind of had to. So it's been very difficult, and it was hard. It's been a lot.
Holly: Is he's married?
Linda: Yes. And he has one child. She's 16.
Holly: So that's been a saga for everybody.
Linda: Right. It's been a hard four months. It's not over because there's still a chance that they'll have to remove that clot. That would be very dangerous.
Linda: When you have heart surgery, they give you Heparin, which is a blood thinner, to keep you from clotting. Well, his reaction to it caused a blood bleed and clot. That's the only blood thinner they use in the United States for heart surgery is Heparin. In Canada, they use different ones.
It's a very small percentage [of people who] have a problem with it. Very small. But he happens to be one that had a high reaction to it. You have no way of knowing. It happens a few days afterwards. But they could do a test and tell. And they did, and it was the Heparin. It's unbelievable, really. When they look at him, they say, "It's amazing. You can sit here, and talk to me, and you look good."
Holly: He hasn't had any more seizures?
Linda: No. Those were caused strictly from the brain bleed. It did seal itself off, and that's good. It's just this clot in the brain. It's the one now that's so worrisome. I mean, he has to be on seizure medication, but he doesn't have them anymore. It was just then and they only lasted a minute or two where he'd just stare and not talk.
Holly: Is he able to work during this time?
Linda: Well, he hasn't gone back. They said he can, but he's a plumber, which makes it even harder because he does construction and big plumbing. And they say don't bump your head, don't cut yourself because you're on blood thinner and you've got clot that in your head.
He's looking for a job now. It's kind of hard. It's a little slow right now. I think he's a little scared which is normal. If he had an office job or something, he probably could have gone back sooner. But…
Holly: Because his labor is pretty physical--
Linda: Right. He does plan on going back. We're going to go to Florida over spring break, end of the month. He really wanted to go. I didn't, but I finally thought, "You know what? Let's go."
Holly: Does he like baking?
Linda: Well, he doesn't do a lot, but he's made a really good Elvis Presley pound cake. He got my recipe before and tried zucchini bread, which is really good. He'll try stuff. He doesn't cook as much as the other son. But he grills, and he makes tacos at home, and things like that. But he wants these recipes, I think, so that he does know how. Like the apple pie, the German potato salad, and things that he remembers.
Holly: I come from a German background. I love German potato salad.
Linda: Well, we're not German. But he likes this recipe. And it is really good. It's very good.
Holly: That's awesome. Your other son Michael is the oldest? And Steven, 49, is the one with the health issue?
Linda: Right. He was very healthy until this.
The doctors couldn't figure out why he had a slow heart rate. Usually there's something else with going on with the heart. He had absolutely no blockage, which we were surprised… because he does eat a lot of junk.
And he's overweight. Well, he lost 50 pounds through all that, but he needed to, just not that way.
It's just all electrical, which it's very unusual. Everything about him, they said he will be one of the case studies they use to teach people at the hospital because it's so rare, everything.
Holly: When is his birthday? When does the grand reveal for all of the recipe binders?
Linda: May 10th. And he'll be 50.
Holly: Oh my gosh. That's right. Yeah. He's 49.
Holly: I love that you are also having your sons over and doing cooking classes with them. So you said pepper steak and apple pie.
Linda: We did zucchini bread. We did pepper steak last week. We did German potato salad one day, too.
The pie's a little different getting the crust right. It took three lessons. It was like, "Oh, man. All this work."
Holly: If you were giving advice to somebody putting together a recipe binder, what would you tell them?
Linda: I didn't put things that I make everyday. I put in the special recipes he grew up with.
Holly: That's really interesting. My sister, she has a process where she rips out recipes and then she tries them. She puts them in the front pocket and then, if they meet her exacting standards, then they get three-hole punched and put in the binder. But they first have to be vetted.
Linda: Right. Most I try but I don't use it again. Some I do. But not all.
I typed every single one because I like neatness. I just typed them out very clearly in a bold print so that it would be easy for them to read.
Holly: Would you share your Apple Pie recipe with me?
Linda: Sure. Do you want to send you a copy?
Linda: And I did try to spell it out pretty simple. I mean, I've made it for-- well, I'm going to be 72. I've been doing it since my 20s. So I've made it so many times. I mean, I just need a vague recipe. But for someone that has never done it-- I like to freeze the butter and things before and slice it. I put all that down. Little things that I know to do that weren't on there, I typed all that out for him.
Holly: That's amazing.
Linda: Everyone that's ever had it, likes it.
Holly: It's the crust that makes the pie.
Linda: It does. And it's getting together to do the recipes. And I think he looks at things differently now too. And me too.
Holly: Yeah. Every moment counts and the flavors ~ the flavors of life keeps pulling us together.
Holly: Linda, thank you so much for your time today.