I recently lost a relative of mine this past summer. It was a sudden and tragic death. While the rest of the family was gathering in the aftermath to let the loss sink in, one of the women in the younger generation lamented the loss of this person’s crabmeat au gratin. My relative made this dish every Christmas, and everyone that gathered waited patiently to have a taste of the fabulous recipe that showcased the sweet lump crabmeat. So the discussion ensued and everyone began wringing their hands over the loss of the recipe for this dish, when lo and behold one of the children piped up and said “look here, the recipe is right here in this cookbook!”
Everyone breathed a sigh of relief that the dish was saved and that in memory of our loved one we could raise a toast and a dollop of crabmeat au gratin on a cracker over the holidays. And this got me to thinking; what about all those beloved recipes that were lost, never to be tasted again. A particular recipe that is gone was my grandmother’s rice pudding. My mother said that no matter how hard she tried, she could never replicate it. Back then recipes were barely written down: a list of ingredients and if you were lucky maybe you had the quantities alongside the items. And never mind the process to assemble the dish, all one could get was add this, add that, cook for about an hour (forget the temperature) and voila! your recipe is done!
Losing a recipe because someone failed to write it down is one thing. What is more egregious is someone that makes a particular dish that everyone loves, yet refuses to share it with anyone. I recall an acquaintance I knew in my 20’s who made the best red velvet cake I’ve ever tasted in my life. It was rich, moist, and had the best cream cheese icing! I was able to partake on a few occasions and no matter how much I begged her, she flat out refused to share the recipe and then had the nerve to gloat over how good it tasted and how no one could ever share in that delight by making it and passing the recipe forward. All I can remember about her is the extreme selfishness and if she ever died how bittersweet it would be that only empty plates would be her legacy. Remember that when you so tenaciously guard your recipes over the holidays and insist on taking them to the grave. Instead of your remaining loved ones celebrating your memory by recreating your dish, all they will have to hang on is a bitter person that refused to share their love from the kitchen so others could enjoy.
So in memory of my loved one, please enjoy their crabmeat au gratin – Happy Thanksgiving
2 large white onions chopped
1 bunch green onions chopped
6 ribs celery chopped
1/2 # butter (2 sticks)
4 tbsp flour
1 large & 1 small can evaporated milk
2 egg yolks
2 # lump crabmeat
12 oz. grated swiss or cheddar
Salt & pepper & hot sauce
Saute onion, celery & butter, add flour & blend, then add evaporated milk & blend. Remove from heat & add egg, crabmeat, salt, pepper and cheese. Put in an 8″ casserole and add extra cheese on top, then bake for 350 degrees for 30-35 minutes until bubbly.
(cross posted on the mosquito coast)