A recipe can build a thread of love inside our hearts that is stronger than we understand. My Aunt Blanche was an influence in my life for the love of cooking, and her laughter could make your heart fill up with a joy to never be denied over and over again. My childhood memories of Thanksgivings at her home were all about the incredible feast she would prepare so effortlessly and enthusiastically for everyone to enjoy. She poured her love into you with food and happy laughs and lots of focused interest in how your life was going. I wish every child could have an Aunt Blanche to learn from!
I took up the idea of baking and cooking at a pretty young age and would always be eager to write down a recipe from someone I loved that baked or cooked something special I enjoyed and admired. So it became the lifetime tradition for me for Aunt Blanche’s Sand Tarts to be served at my home for Thanksgiving and Christmas. It was a tradition as solid as they get. We never took much effort in jotting down recipes, just the ingredients and the verbal discussion of method memorized and branded for good inside the heart and brain. I can still remember sitting with her and writing down some of the old recipes from her. She would rattle them off from memory sometimes. Amazing.
Several years ago, I came home from work and decided to pull out the recipes for Thanksgiving and make my lists to prepare the meal. I love making Thanksgiving dinner for my loved one. At the time my son Andy, was still very small and we had a caretaker as I have always worked outside of the home. I felt frustrations at times with the arrangement, it is not easy being a stay-at-home mother, and it is not easy being a career mom either. Both have their challenges. Caretakers can move things around in your home, like recipe cards. Like recipe cards that are sacred and not for anyone to touch but me. Challenges. I went to my little wooden box and dug around and dug around and could not find my Aunt Blanche’s Sand Tart recipe. I felt this thick feeling in my chest and throat, sitting at the kitchen table I pulled out every single recipe thinking it must be misplaced. It must have been the caretaker and she just didn’t know where to put it back. I could not find it. My loss was overwhelming for many reasons.
My mother and father were both deceased on this day. My very dearly loved-more-than- I-can-express, Aunt Tommye (Aunt Blanche’s sister) was deceased. I had nobody to call to get my recipe back. I could not remember it. I sat at my kitchen table late that afternoon, weary from work, angry at the caretaker, sad at my dilemma, and cried. I sat there and cried and cried and cried and felt so sorry for myself. What would my Thanksgivings be from this day on without my Aunt Blanche’s Sand Tarts? I knew someone out there might have a resemblance to it –but mine was dictated to me by her at her kitchen table and I needed it back in my hands and my heart. I ached for that little tattered card with my notes from Aunt Blanche.
Dusting myself off, and facing the dread of what was to come, I made myself pull out the cookie sheets and work on something else. Aunt Blanche’s Sand Tart recipe that I had caringly placed in a plastic envelope was stuck to the back of the cookie sheet. The caregiver did not see it when she put it away. I love happy endings. I have since that day copied it at least a million times. I’m hoping you will try the recipe and it magically becomes your tradition. That would make the ending even better. Happy baking to all of you and wishes for fulfilling traditions!