Well, Filibuster and V are at work. Squints is in the kitchen making chocolate chip cookies, fiddling with the recipe—adding a little of this and a little of that—experimenting to see if he can improve it or, perhaps, make the recipe his own. I’m OK with this tinkering. My only requirement is that he run the new ingredients past me first. Sorry, but I cannot tolerate cilantro in my chocolate chip cookies, even if it is organic.
We’re under a flash flood warning: For three days, we’ve had rain and severe thunderstorms. Two days ago, the power went out. We gathered at the kitchen table playing Scrabble and watching the sky darken, hoping we could send my husband out for Chinese. But, just in time for me to make dinner, the power came back on. We sat blinking at one another and I found myself torn between being happy that my frozen blueberries and raspberries and strawberries would be safe from thawing and being disappointed that we wouldn’t be having won ton soup that night.
My husband’s train is late again. And so, on this gloomy evening, Squints and I have made the executive decision to whip up a batch of scrambled eggs and bacon. And this, of course, reminds me of the morning my grandparents’ barn flooded.
I’d spent the night with my grandparents and woke to rain thrumming on the roof. The house was quiet when I went downstairs. The sky was dark. Rain streaked the windows. I went outside and found my grandparents bailing the water that had pooled around the doors of the barn in which they stored the hay. If the hay got wet, it would be destroyed.
I tried to help. I got in the way. They sent me back to the house, probably wanting to keep me safe and warm and dry.
But I wanted to help. What to do?
I’d do what I always did with my sisters on Saturday mornings: I would make breakfast. Only this time, I would do it alone.
I turned on some lights and started a pot of coffee. I put the bacon in the frying pan and cracked a dozen eggs into the bowl to which I added milk and—where was the cheese? My sisters and I always added a healthy dose of cheddar to the eggs. Scrambled eggs on their own were boring: They were dry; they were too yellow. They needed the color of the cheese to impart a rich orange.
I scanned the shelves of the refrigerator, considering. Mustard? It would add color, but…
Now, here was an interesting possibility. By adding maple syrup to the eggs, not only would my grandparents and I be having eggs and bacon, we’d be having the illusion of pancakes. I pictured my recipe, featured at Bob Evans and Perkins. I took out the little glass bottle, imagining the possibilities. Yeah. Syrup would be good in eggs.
I stirred a little into the eggs. I stirred a little more into the eggs. Then I poured the concoction into a frying pan. I put a few slices of bread in the toaster and set the butter and jelly on the table.
The kitchen filled with delicious scents—bacon, toast, coffee—in the same way my own kitchen now smells of chocolate and Squints’ secret ingredient. I couldn’t wait for my grandparents to come in, to see what a wonderful job I’d done.
The front door opened and my grandmother stepped in. She removed her hat and raincoat, unwrapped the scarf from around her hair. She smiled gratefully towards the kitchen, told me my grandfather wouldn’t be in for a while yet. I poured Grandma a cup of coffee and put the syrup back in the fridge before dishing up two plates of eggs (and syrup!), toast, and bacon.
I smiled, setting the plate before my grandmother: I couldn’t wait for her to take a bite. As I watched, she picked up her fork. Lifted a bit of the eggs towards her mouth. Chewed. She looked at me. “Do these eggs taste…” Here she paused, as if searching for the perfect word. I waited wondering what she would say. Especially delicious today? Amazing? Like heaven?
“…syrupy to you?”
I frowned. Took a bite of my eggs. Ugh. Bob Evans wouldn’t be calling me any time soon.
At this point, I should have, as my dad puts it, ‘fessed up. But that day my grandparents weren’t their usual selves: They were worried and nervous about the barn and the hay. What would they think if they knew I’d deliberately spoiled a dozen eggs? I swallowed my eggs and swallowed the truth. “No.”
I finished that plate of eggs, while my grandmother concentrated on her bacon and the toast. And ever since that day, I’ve been a bit suspicious of people who tinker with recipes.
But I see that Squints has cleaned up the kitchen. His cookies—even with the secret ingredient—taste delicious. And so, I’ll put on the eggs and the bacon and the toast for dinner. Fortunately, I’m out of syrup.
Oh, and Squints’ secret ingredient?
Although he almost put in cayenne pepper by mistake.
I can see my grandmother giggling at that.
Labels: Cooking, Country life, Grandparents, Growing up, Sons