Friday Fun is a group post from the writers of the NHWN blog. Each week, we’ll pose and answer a different, get-to-know-us question. We hope you’ll join in by providing your answer in the comments.
QUESTION: We all have them, those ‘things’ we did that family members can’t help but share at every opportunity… what story does your family tell about you whenever they can?
Jamie Wallace: My family’s favorite story about me would probably be the cream of tartar story.
Now, you have to understand that I am not a cook. I can count the number of “dishes” (and I hesitate to use so formal a term) that I’ve “mastered” (again, using the term loosely) on the fingers of one hand. (I still use a recipe to make pancakes. From a mix.) Despite this culinary handicap, I make the effort each year to bake a batch of snickerdoodles.
Giant Snickerdoodles are a holiday tradition in our family. They are, I believe, the first cookie recipe featured in the handmade cookbook that my mom put together for me and my sister to take out into the big, wide world. There, on pale green copy paper, is typed the ingredients list and step-by-step instructions for making these sweet and tangy treats.
It was my first year living away from home. I pulled out the cookbook, copied the list of ingredients, and headed to the market. At the grocery store, I quickly assembled the necessary fixings except for one thing – cream of tartar. Again and again, I studied the labels on the shelf trying to locate this elusive item. Finally, I admitted defeat and phoned my mom who, at the time, was living all the way across the country. When she figured out why I was having so much trouble, you could have heard her laughter across all three-thousand miles.
I was looking for the cream of tartar in the dairy aisle.
Lisa J. Jackson: Funny, my family story is food-related, too! I have often said the kitchen is the least-used room in my house. It always has been. Like not having a green thumb (I’ve even killed an air plant), I have a severe lack of talent when it comes to food preparation.
I took Home Economics in middle and high school. As a teen, I prepared dinners when both my parents were working. I can cook.
The family story most often mentioned at the most embarrassing time is how I burnt soup. “How is it possible to burn soup?” No one knew until that time when I managed to do it. And it wasn’t because the burner was too high. Oh no, that would be easy to understand. The flame was ‘just right.’ The problem was (and seems to always be) that I start cooking, then walk off and forget it. In the case of the soup, the liquid burned away and the noodles started to get crispy, someone smelled something burning.
That was decades ago, but the story is still told. And just recently, I posted to Facebook that I need to go to Cooking 101 because the neighbors no longer find it funny to hear the smoke detector. (It’s how I know dinner is ready.) I can make a divine apple pie, a delectable grilled cheese sandwich, delicious red mashed potatoes, and a fabulous bowl of perfectly buttered and salted popcorn – but much more is needed for survival. 🙂
Instead, my story comes from when I was a toddler (I must have been around 2.) I was put down for a nap, but decided that I’d rather explore, so I got out of my crib and went into the room that was being painted (the painter, my mother, was taking a break.) As the story goes, apparently I felt that the yellow paint would not only look good on the walls, but on the carpet, bedspreads, the dresser, the wooden floor leading to the stairs, and even myself. As my family tells it, I left little yellow footprints all over the house.
I have no memory of this event (except for the fact that I really hate – and I mean despise – the color yellow), but *every time* my family is together, you can bet money that someone will mention the time “Wendy stepped in yellow paint.”
This is THE story that gets told again and again – about the time my husband and I became separated overnight on the Long Trail. Remarkably, we’re still married. You can listen to me telling this story of A Touching Reunion at VPR’s Commentator’s Brunch.