Much of what I know about cooking I learned from my grandmother. She served dinner early in the afternoon so my grandfather would have a good meal before he left for his night shift job as a radio station technician. Because my walk home from school passed by her house, I would often stop in to say hello and see what was cooking.
When I got there, she would be putting the final touches on dinner. I loved to sit in the kitchen and watch her putter around. Sometimes she would use a recipe if she was cooking something new or something outside her usual repertoire. More often than not, though, she used the dump method. She would dump a little of this and a little of that in a pot and end up with a big batch of deliciousness.
Some days I would have two suppers, because what she was cooking was so irresistible it would just jump into my mouth, and then I would walk the rest of the way home and help make dinner for my family.
After cooking for a large family for decades, as she did, I suspect you eventually know what works and what doesn’t. I was fortunate in that I learned what the flavors should be, even if I didn’t know the exact ingredients or amounts. That ability means that years later, with a little trial and error, I can resurrect a few of my favorites. I also obtained some of her recipes with the help of some relatives, but a lot of my grandmother’s recipes are gone forever, passing with her when she died in 2002 at age 85.
Sometimes people ask me why I post my fudge recipes instead of keeping them secret. Here’s my answer: Recipes don’t do anyone any good if they die with the creator. Recipes are meant to be shared and modified. Recipes are meant to be loved. My grandmother was always glad to pass along a recipe if she had one. I like to think I follow in her footsteps.
(Today is her birthday. Even after all these years, I still miss her a lot.)