Recipes for Magical Life Memories

Posted January 10, 2017 by jimhigley

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I’m pretty lucky to work with brands that resonate with me. My new partner, Stouffer’s touches my heart in a couple ways. For starters, they’re a very real part of my childhood. I bet you’re the same. But then I learned about their history and how they started as a family restaurant in 1924 with delicious recipes from Mrs. Stouffer. Those are the same recipes used today with ingredients you’d find in your own home – part of their “Kitchen Cupboard” commitment. My recent history lesson into Stouffer’s caused me to remember this story about my own mom. And her treasured recipes. I dare you to read this without thinking about those special recipes from your family. Enjoy!

I’m a lucky son. One who is blessed with an abundance of memories centered on my mom – despite the fact that she wasn’t part of my world for all that long. Cancer took her from our lives when I was still a young boy.

A life cut short, for sure. But time has taught me to understand that is was also a life that left so much.

The memories of her that I carry in the scrapbook tucked in my heart are vivid:

  • Seeing her in our family kitchen – every morning, every day – greeting her five boys with a smile, laughter and an apron covered in everything from pancake mix to last night’s pasta sauce;
  • Feeling her next to me, in my tiny single bed, realizing that she – once again – had fallen asleep as she read to me from my collection of Dr. Seuss books;
  • Hearing her call out my name – every Wednesday – as I walked through my grade school lunch line. She was a weekly volunteer, and joyfully scooped peas or mashed potatoes week after week for hundreds of hungry children;
  • Smelling her perfume (or likely her cheap drugstore version of perfume) the few times a year she and my dad would treat themselves to a night out – away from their fraternity of boys.

An abundance of memories that come from having a front row seat in the life of this woman.

I’ve also learned that memories can come as a gift from others – like the ones given to me from the many families who came to know her at our local community hospital. As a child, I knew she volunteered at the hospital every Friday morning. But the extent of my memories surrounding that were restricted to the pink smock she wore – and the smell of ground coffee beans floating out of the can she carried in her hand as she left our home every Friday with regularity. Random memories from a child’s perspective. That is what I knew. But what I’ve come to know – from so many strangers – is the deep compassion in her heart as she sat with families in the surgery waiting room. Her mission was to bring them a bit of comfort – and a hot cup of coffee – as they sat and waited for news of their loved ones from the operating room.

Those stories shared – have now become my memories.

One of the favorite memories “given” to me came from a friend of my mother, Pat, who was part of my mom’s world in the sixties and seventies. They were neighbors navigating motherhood together. They were also part of a monthly bridge group.

Pat and her family moved away from our town decades ago – and as it often happens – they slipped out of our lives. But through the power of social media, I was reconnected with her a few years back – well over 30 years after last seeing her when I was a young lad.

“I have something to give you,” Pat wrote me one day. “What’s your mailing address?”

And a week later I received an envelope from Pat. Inside was a note and a collection of my mom’s recipe cards.

They were all on index cards – as were all recipes shared back in those days – covered with the all-too-familiar typewriter font that was my mother’s. Stained, dog-eared and having a moistness that only could come from years of use, they all had hand-written notes from my mom in the margins of the cards.

The best part of all? The initials in the lower corner of each card: “B.H.” My mom’s name was Betty.

In Pat’s note I read about many of her own memories of my mother – evolving around these recipes – recalling the atmosphere in our home during their bridge dates and other motherly moments. She spoke of my mom’s joy. Her warmth. And her pride in her boys.

Recipes. Passed from a friend to a friend to a son.

Simple. But yet so rich.

Because what Pat really shared were the ingredients that make memories.

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This memory was brought to you by the folks at Stouffer’s who know a lot about the importance of family recipes. For more than 90 years Stouffer’s has served meals made with high-quality ingredients and the same love the Stouffer family put into every recipe at the family restaurant decades ago in Cleveland, Ohio. Check out Stouffer’s Facebook page to learn more about their “Kitchen Cupboard” commitment – a new initiative focusing on shortening and simplifying their recipes and only including ingredients you’d find in your own home.

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