I couldn't wait to step inside because I knew something wonderful was always waiting for me, a special dish or a special treat.
I would watch her as she cooked and I thought that some day I too would be as good a cook as my grandmother.
Her eyes lit up as she lovingly placed a dish in front of me. I was the worst picky eater to ever "grace" a table. Only at my Grandmother's table would I eat everything in sight. I especially loved her pot roast.
"Grandma, tell me how you make everything so delicious? Some day I want to be the best cook there ever was, just like you."
"Sweetheart," she would say, "I do not have any particular recipes, nothing is written down. I use a little bit of this and a little bit of that."
My heart sank. How was I going to become the "best cook ever" if I did not have an exact recipe? So to remedy the situation, I watched with a careful eye and memorized everything she did.
When she would shop for her ingredients (no big supermarkets back then), I insisted on going. I watched and listened as she spoke with the butcher. Everything had to be perfect. She would say, "The best cut of meat and remove any visible fat as this is for my granddaughter." Or in the open market, she would again say, "Nothing looks good today. Go inside and get me the freshest vegetables you have."
I enjoyed being with her and I learned so much. I wished the days would not move on but sad to say, they did.
The years went by, my grandmother passed away and I was left with some beautiful memories of all the times we shared together. She taught me how to cook, to shop, what to look for in a cut of meat and how to get the best bargains. My education in the art of cooking, taught by my grandmother, was priceless.
Did I become as good cook as my grandmother? My pot roast is almost as good, which brings to mind a very funny story.
When my family and I lived in Queens, almost every Wednesday my in-laws would come for dinner. My father-in-law worked half a day and would meet us at my house. They too, especially enjoyed my pot roast.
One evening while having dinner my husband made an announcement. Speaking directly to his mom he said, "Why can't you make a pot roast as good as my wife does?"
She answered him by saying, "I don't have to. Marsha makes a pot roast that we all enjoy so let's leave it at that."
Several weeks passed and one day while speaking to my mother-in-law we devised a devilish scheme.
"I am going to cook a pot roast at home, take it to your house and not tell anyone where and by whom it was cooked," she said to me. I agreed. Even my father-in-law knew nothing of our scheme.
The day arrived and everything went off without a hitch. We even removed the pot roast from her pan and placed it into one of mine.
After dinner my husband again recited to his mom, "I cannot believe that in all the years I lived in your house, you never learned how to cook. Why can't you make a pot roast as good as my wife does?"
I laughed until I cried! I couldn't speak. I had to let the cat out of the bag.
"Michael, I have to tell you something. Your mother made the pot roast and brought it over."
When he was told about the plan we pulled off, he couldn't believe it! The look on his face was one of amazement. I can still see it to this day!
Over the years, my children and friends have requested several of my dishes. One dish is always asked for over and over -- pot roast and potatoes. I have accommodated this request on many occasions. I love to cook and enjoy watching and hearing the ooh's and ah's as they begin eating.
A few years ago, I submitted my pot roast recipe as a "one-pot meal" in a contest. I had to actually put the recipe to paper even though none existed. I was just ecstatic when I received a check for a small sum and a copy of the cookbook in which it was published.
As I held the book and check in my hand, I started to cry uncontrollably. I wanted my grandmother to know that she was the best cook and teacher there ever was. I'd like to think she knows.
We all share special moments with people we love, whether it's with a parent, family member, teacher or friend. These moments cannot be duplicated. I cherish every moment I spent with my grandmother.