My whole life, I have struggled to learn from my Mother, Judy. First there was the sewing lessons. I remember sitting in front of the Singer, trying to learn the basics. I just wanted to learn how to follow a pattern, but Mom knew of a much better way to sew whichever stitch. My little brain wouldn't remember all of these sneaky, tricky little ways to "properly" assemble a skirt or whatever. Sewing became a deep, dark mystery that I just wasn't meant to figure out. Next came making bread. Again, I just wanted to learn the process, but no, more secret combinations were required. First, there was the temperature of the water. It needed to be "not too hot, not too cold, but just right" to dissolve the yeast. (I insisted on using a thermometer to learn this secret temperature.) Then there was the process of adding just enough flour for the dough to "look right" and "feel right." I tried to take a mental picture of this perfectly crafted dough that the master baker had created. The rest of the process went alright, but then it was time to put the bread in the oven. Instead of just making sure the temperature had been properly set and oven was heated, she opens the door, puts her hand in towards the center and declares, "That feels about right. It's time to put the loaves in." I won't even comment on rolls and pie crust.
After reading this...recipe(?)...written by my beloved Grandmother, I now understand that this wasn't Mom's fault. She comes from what is probably a long line of these mystical women who knew how to turn a few garden vegetables into a feast, or a couple of yards of clearanced fabric into a beautiful gown. I thought the secret was just to learn how to follow the directions and the magic would happen. Now I realize that you should never settle for "simple" when there is really a better way, to not be afraid to wing it, and make do with what you have. That's magic.
I'm sure there is a story behind this gem that Mom will share with you. Much love to you all.