When I decided to have this blog it was because I previously had two blogs that had very specific themes. I longed for a blog that I could include anything I wanted it it. I closed one of my blogs and started this one “A Gathering of Words” which allows me to tell stories, give out recipes, discuss some of the art I have made and include any new ideas for a post I may have. The following remembrance was written a few years ago while we lived in Arizona. I wrote it for a dear friend who had died. I include it here because Lee was special and unusual to me. And I know where ever she reigns this post will make her as pleased as possible.
I met Lee when she opened a Cafe in Plaza Del Lago, Willmette, Illinois. I had a bakery there at the same time. We spent many hours together……..sometimes helping each other or at our homes setting over a bottle of scotch. We also traveled to England and enjoyed an unbelievable month’s vacation in a mews residence. She was a special person and she will always be remembered.
To Remember Lee–the memories fill my heart!!
Three stately Saguaro cacti reign serenely over the Prickly Pear Cacti, Yucca, Barrel Cacti, Palo Verde, Texas Mesquite, and Creosote plants on our north desert lawn, each bearing open scars collected as the years have passed, (now filled with Morning Dove, Woodpecker and Sparrow nests). Walking beneath their giant arms cause me to reflect and question the cycle of life; a tiny seed sprouted, stood the test of time and survives in a harsher habitat for years longer than humans can. I stand in their court feeling their presence, gaining an understanding of their serenity, and receiving a certain sense of wisdom allowing me to understand the complexities of life.
My dear friend, Lee was one of the few people I knew who equaled the Saguaro’s unique serenity. Stalwart, yet understandingly gentle, Lee reigned, serenely when giants stood in her way, spread her arms providing refuge for those who needed a comforting breast, and pushed you forward whenever necessary. She, like the Saguaro had passed the test of time; seen and understood the intricacies of life, and embraced life’s accidental happenings by using them as lessons of enrichment.
Stand to close to the Saguaros, forgetting their existence, and they will teach you quickly to be careful. Just as the Saguaro will pierce your skin with its needles, Lee’s defense would always be a lesson for her offender. After listening to a belligerent customer’s unfounded remark she quietly responded, “I can only be as pleasant as you allow me to be…” Uniquely simple as the Saguaro’s needle, her answer was a morsel of wisdom.
Lee is no longer alive, yet as the Saguaro passes and leaves its awesome unforgettable skeleton, Lee’s passing has left me with a legacy of infinite memories providing a treasury of wisdom.
The following two recipes are from Lee’s cookbook, Lagniappe. Please Enjoy!
SWEET POTATO PIE
Since Opelousas is the Yam Capital of the world, our house was never without baked yams. The syrup oozed out of the skins as they baked. A large pan of yams was put into the oven every morning as regular as clockwork. One took a yam and ate it out of hand as one would an apple. They are delicious cold, at least those yams were!
For the pie, mix:
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon allspice
Beat and add to sugar:
1 cup milk
1½ cups mashed yams. canned or fresh
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla
Mix and bake in unbaked pie shell for 15 minutes at 425 degrees and then at 325 degrees for 80 minutes or until center tests done.
We shelled the peanuts and put them into the oven to dry. This was a simple, cheap and quick candy —after the peanuts were shelled. The youngest shelled and the oldest cooked the sugar.
Place in a heavy iron pan or skillet on low flame:
2 cups sugar
Stir constantly with a wooden spoon.
When sugar has become a thin golden syrup remove from flame. Stir in:
1½ cup shelled nuts
1 heavy pinch salt
Spread on ungreased tin to harden. When cool, break into pieces.