Ingredient

It’s three thirty a.m. and I’m up, baking the last of the Thanksgiving apple pies.  This year, the apples weren’t alone in their epic journey….because they were special.  They were from Jack’s sister’s very own apple tree!
Granny Smiths’ they are,  in their bright green coats with the golden hewed collar around their stems.  Very sweet, very perfect for my intentions. I added raisins to a couple of the pies, along with a little brown sugar and some flax seed bran.  The others became Apple Raisin Cranberry Orange Walnut Pies. Both had pie shell pastry bottom crusts and crumb crust on top.  I plan on slightly drizzling them with thin whisps of dark chocolate, to add a slight contrast to the expected flavors of apples, cinnamon and cloves.

To me, cooking is a grand experiment!  It’s laying flavors, blending them to a point but allowing just enough distinction so that the resultant flavor has both substance and contrast. (gee that sounded like a lot of  Food Network Speak).But it’s fun cooking, even more fun cooking for family gatherings!
 
Having Jack’s family in our lives has been great for us.  For Jack, it’s been a chance to reconnect with his mother before she passed, and establish a friendly relationship with his sister and her family.  For me, it’s been the answer to an unspoken longing for Jack, and for myself as well….a longing to have a group of people that we can be with who have something inherently in common with at least one of us on this coast….a physical resemblance, a similar quirk…the things only recognizable in a family-group setting.

Adopted people talk about it….looking in the mirror and wondering who else out there in the great big world shares that nose, that double chin, those mood swings.  But there’s more to it than that, too. It’s a shared history, a linking of identities and circumstances that go back through one’s ancestry and speak to the present like only a genetic code can do.

I have had the luxury of a close-knit family of sorts.  Mind you, I confess that my communication skills are horrid…but as anyone will tell you nobody is singled out.  I just suck on correspondence. (this coming from a self-proclaimed writer! go figure!)  Anyway, regardless of my lack of communication at times, my family is a very strong, bonded group of fascinating individuals. Brothers, Sisters,  Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Birth Son, Nieces and Nephews, Cousins (first, second and so on)…I grew up with the complete assortment.  We were a boisterous, lively crew and when we got together for the most part we enjoyed each others’ company.

Except when somebody was on somebody else’s shitlist.  We didn’t call it that then, Mom wouldn’t let us curse. But knowledge of the “list” was my first experience with politics on the most local level possible.

Anyway, Jack left his home fairly young and lost contact with everyone. Our holidays together have been wonderful, shared with friends and the occasional visit to my folks on the East Coast….but family-wise everything felt so long distance.

I’m so glad we now have the added component of Jack’s immediate family. It’s a comfort to know there’s somebody out there. Jack seems happier, too.  So there’s a lot to celebrate.  

We’re going to Jack’s sister’s house for Thanksgiving this year. We’re both looking forward to seeing everyone and sharing cooking secrets.  As luck would have it, several of members of his brood are also home cooks so we have a LOT to talk about!

I’d love it if both families could meet and have a party….my sister and Jack’s sister would probably get along famously and the funny thing is both are named similarly.  Jack’s siste
Sr is “Carole” and my sister is “Carolyn.”
Tell me that ain’t something!

Well, the timer just rang on the old oven so it’s time to pull out the pies and then get some rest!

So for now, Fifty Five is the new Ingredient, which is what it’s always been….Love.

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