I remember so many things about my father, not only on Father's Day, but on June 1 -- his birthday. Were he alive I could count 111 years of memories. But I'll settle for two. A farmer who spent most of his days in the fields or barn, Dad occasionally took a notion to work a little magic in the kitchen. When we saw him bring out the black fry pan, we knew we were about to be treated to Lazy Women's Bread, a recipe which dated to his LDS missionary days in Nevada in the early 1920s.
The recipe (which was in his head) called for flour, salt, baking powder, and milk which he mixed in a bowl then poured into the hot pan. After cooking it on both sides, our plates were ready for the plump bread, cut in wedges and accompanied with a glass of our own cows' milk. He liked it with water cress. We liked it with butter and sugar, or sometimes spread with homemade cherry jam. It may have been pretty tasteless in reality, but since our dad made it we thought it was wonderful.
The second culinary memory I have of him was his homemade fudge. Watching him make it was almost as good as eating it ... almost. As it cooked, we took turns stirring as he admonished us not to stir the side of the pan or the fudge might turn to sugar. When he determined the time was right, he poured the mixture onto a greased pie pan. Now the fun began.
We hovered around him, watching with delight the waves of chocolate made by the spoon's beating. Then when the fudge lightened in color -- he poured it onto a plate to set.
Pure delight we could have called it, but mayhem followed as we kids jockeyed for the opportunity to lick the pans, even though all that fudge awaited us.
He also made apricot pies as his mother had, with the fruit from our orchard, and fresh butter, entertaining us and giving Mom a break from the kitchen.
Our children also remember their dad's cooking. His specialty, also learned in the mission field, was made from almost the same ingredients as Dad's Lazy Woman Bread -- flour, milk, salt -- and an egg. We called them Thin Cakes, but they resembled crepes. He only made them on Saturdays during the years our children were growing up.
He poured a small amount of batter in a fry pan and swirled it around to thinly cover the bottom. The kids waited expectantly with forks in one hand and the other ready to grab the evaporated milk and sugar to sprinkle on top.
Then with a practiced hand they rolled the cake up with one tine of their forks. By age six, each child could expertly roll up the cake and feast upon the goodness before them. Now that all the children are gone, so are the thin cakes. I miss them, as they were a favorite breakfast for me also.
What the children miss out on now is their dad's summer task of making chili which we freeze and enjoy all winter long. He started with a recipe called "Survivor's Chili" which I had clipped from a magazine. Through the years he added a little this and that, including his latest addition of bacon. We figure we probably pay more to make the chili than to buy it.
We'll talk about Dad in the kitchen with fondness many times with our brothers and sisters not only on Father's Day but throughout the year.