Jacquie’s Corner: What I Learned from My Mom

Jacqueline M. Ruffino-Platt

Wow … delicious … juices running and aromas of the finest culinary delights you can imagine. As most of you know, I love to cook and bake, inherited some of my talents from my mom. A woman who cooked and baked without one shred of a recipe. Years ago I asked Mom if she would write her special recipes for me to cherish and continue her legacy of a great cook. Especially her baking. As time passed, my mom was admitted into a nursing home in New Jersey, and I lived in Virginia. I managed to visit my mom several times by train, bus, or someone to offer me a ride. During this time in my life, I met a wonderful gentleman named John, and he offered to drive me to visit my mom. We made our visits quite often and wonderful. Don’t know how this happened; however, when my mom met John, she knew he was the man for me to spend our lives together. And she felt pleased and relieved. After my mom had passed away, I was looking through her personal belongings and found an old black and white composition book with my name on the front. The book had seen its day, and some of the pages had been bent or torn in the corners.

My mom wrote a beautiful sentiment on the first page which read, “My darling daughter Jacqueline here are my recipes. Enjoy making them as I have and share with your family and friends.”

My mom had beautiful handwriting and easy to decipher. Wow, as I thumbed through the pages and read the ingredients, I pictured myself bringing back pleasant memories and preparing myself to follow in my mom’s footsteps setting a table with the most delectable plates of food.

The most interesting pages of the recipes in this book had no title of what I was about to make. Ingredients and directions were written out to the letter, and most every recipe began with 2 cups of flour, 1-1/2 cups of sugar, baking powder, three eggs, etc. At the finish, open the oven door and retrieve a baking pan from the oven. You would retrieve a delicious cake or Italian cookies. Baked from a recipe with no name. To this day, I can still bake the same as my mom. Baking was not her only forte. Sunday dinners were homemade Italian sauce, meatballs, eggplant, macaroni (that is the name we still use). My husband John wanted to continue with my Italian heritage and bought me a special Italian iron to make other goodies. The famous pizzelles. To this day, I make them many times, especially around the holidays. Ask any golfer at Sun Lakes Country Club if they get these treats every holiday. Today, I am still following in my mom’s footsteps, baking and cooking from memory. I go outside the box on a few occasions to search for recipes.