"This is delicious pesto, or salsa, or dressing," followed by, "Can I have the recipe?"
I look to the inquirer with a blank stare. "Recipe?"
"Yes, what's the recipe?"
"Well, I pour in pine nuts, pick basil from the garden, add garlic, olive oil, and salt, and if I have fresh parmesan, I throw that in too. Sometimes I use a different nut--walnuts maybe."
"But...but how many nuts? A cup?"
"Yes, maybe. Just how many you have."
My flexibility has its advantages and distinct disadvantages. Sometimes when I cook, the end product has the perfect combination of flavor and texture--yet it may never taste the same again.
Tony, whose life mission is to sort-out and clean-up after me, has taken to putting annotations in recipes from which I took a divergent path. My pie crust recipe is full proof, but it isn't the exact one in the red-bound book. When pressed for the additions, I responded, "I just add sugar."
"Maybe a tablespoon?"
His scientific self took to re-creating the perfect pie crust and now the exact measurements are written in next to the original recipe.
I'm pretty sure my daughters over the years have made fun of me for my non recipe cooking, because---daughters always make fun of their mother's quirky ways of doing and being. It's a given I heartily accept and frequently join in the knock-down-banter. It's inevitable, so why not laugh at that silly lady?
Except...chuckle chuckle, at Sunday's dinner I noticed head-honcho, first born daughter has adopted her mother's peculiarities. It used to be when someone asked her for a recipe, she could refer the questioner to a written copy, "I'll email it to you," or "I found it in this chef's book."
Her aunt prefaced a recipe request with, "I don't like this salad, but this one is really good. Can you give me the recipe?"
My food savvy daughter answered, "It's the basic recipe for frog-eye salad."
"But it doesn't taste like it."
I had to agree because I loathe frog eye salad and I was dishing up my sixth serving.
Oldest daughter, unconsciously morphing into her everything-but-the-kitchen-sink cooking mother, gave a few anecdotes about the salad and then added something I thought I'd never hear. "To cut down on the sweetness, I mixed in some plain Greek yogurt."
"How much?" her aunt demanded.
My daughter couldn't give her an exact measurement.
"Yum, that's why it's so good," I added, but not because of the yogurt, but because she was cooking with intuition.
Last night, I came upon my youngest daughter in a conundrum over a marinade she was trying to produce. She'd lost the recipe and any other recipes seemed "so unhealthy." She tried to squeeze out of this old turnip a marinade recipe, but she was just another person asking for a recipe who received a blank stare.
The next day when we all came together at the end of the day, she congratulated herself on the delicious marinade which she'd poured over that day's lunch. She'd created the recipe herself and proudly boasted, "I had a Pat moment (yes, she calls me Pat), I just made it up myself."
My sister was frequently chided by her own daughter for her strict upbringing. As her daughter contemplates having her own children, her tune has changed pitch: "Mom, I'm going to be just like you. Probably even more strict than you were."
That's the thing with motherhood: a mother has to wait patiently while she is made fun of, for those criticisms will one day be the very things her own children will emulate.
It's a given.