Glad to have brushed shoulders

Published 1:11 am Saturday, October 30, 2010

These days it seems I spend a lot of time thumbing through my collection of cookbooks seeking low sodium recipes and figuring out how to adjust old favorite recipes to be appetizing with less or no salt.

It is a challenge in many ways. I recall a letter I received from a reader years ago when Editor-Publisher Jim Lambert appointed me editor of an Andalusia Star-News holiday cookbook. We solicited recipes from readers and awarded prizes for the best in each category. Shortly after its publication, an out-of-state subscriber wrote me that after she received her newspaper with the cookbook enclosed, she stayed up most of the night reading it. She loved to cook.

I love to read. I’ve never been over-enthused with cooking, so I doubt I’d ever stay up late reading a cookbook. However, recently as I’ve pulled out cookbooks from shelves in a cabinet in our foyer where I keep most of them stashed, I almost forget why I’m thumbing through them. Some of those cookbooks are from churches or organizations; I know a lot of the contributors. Some are friends, some are relatives, some are acquaintances. When I see a familiar name under the title of a recipe, it brings back memories. I find myself reminiscing about that contributor.

There’s a tattered cookbook carefully wrapped and nestled in those shelves that belonged to my mother. It is the White House Cookbook that my daddy bought her soon after their marriage in the late 1920s. She considered it a treasure. So do I. And so it is with several of my cookbooks, not for some of the wonderful recipes, but because of those familiar names and faces they bring to mind.

I am amused every time I turn to the vegetable section in a Lillian United Methodist Church cookbook and find red splotches on the same page with a Harvard beets recipe by Florence Smith, one of the church members. It is one of my favorites. As I open the pages of the now somewhat battered volume, I remember the cooperative effort that made it a reality. The picture on the yellow cover and delightful drawings throughout were by member Dick Schweinfurth. I was on the committee and remember that somewhere among our photos is a picture of the committee members at work on the book at the home of Dick and his late wife Frances.

A wave of sadness sweeps over me as I see names of those who have passed on; but at the same time, I am thankful for the sweet memories the book calls forth.

Time passes swiftly as I turn the pages. Suddenly I become aware again that I didn’t set out for a walk down Memory Lane. I am on a mission to find a tasty low sodium recipe. I shake my head, recall a line of a poem, “I’m glad I touched shoulders with you,” as I push aside reminiscence, and get back down to business.