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Friday, April 12, 2019

Cooking with My Sister

Cooking with my sister

When your sister dies on International Siblings Day

after two years with a glioblastoma murdering her brain cells one by one, at a very rapid clip, so rapid a nurse temporarily lost her cool, and, in front of my sister's grief-stricken daughter, gasped in shock when looking at the tumor's explosive growth in an MRI image subsequent to an earlier one that had showed the tumor to be pea-sized

and when you are rubbing said sister's feet as she lay in a coma for 24 hours

and when she stopped breathing just after you communicated to your sister, telepathically, "You can go now. There will be people for you to boss around in Heaven,"

you will ponder these events every April 10, International Siblings Day, for the rest of your conscious life.

I resolved not to commemorate my sister's death on Wednesday, April 10, 2019.


Because I feel stupid, and "emotionally violated," for want of a better word, to be mourning people who, if I had died first, would not have mourned me. People, not person. Antoinette died Friday, April 10, 2015. My brother Joe died Friday, April 27, 2018. Phil, October 11, 1975. Mike, November, I think, 1983. Daddy, December 4. Mommy. August, right before 9-11. Artie, Benjie, Tramp, cats, lizards, and various strays. All gone, except me and Greg, and Greg doesn't talk to me. So that's it. I mourn them all.

And because I feel like I'm supposed to let them go. There is a Polish superstition, or at least a superstition of my Polish grandmother, that if you think about people who are gone, they stick around to listen, and miss their chance to get into Heaven. So I should just move on.


Antoinette and I cooked together. Yesterday, day after Siblings' Day, I made two things we used to make together. Cheese pie and Toll House cookies. The cookies I gave to a handsome Italian man who has been kind to me. He seemed unhappy when I delivered them. I wonder if he is diabetic. I am responsible for eating the cheese pie myself.

Antoinette told me that after she moved out of the house, and was living at nursing school, she whipped up a batch of chocolate chip cookie dough and ate it all herself. It was something she'd wanted to do since she was a kid, and of course could not do in that tiny house where we were all on top of one another 24/7. She said doing that got it out of her system. I've never done it, but someday maybe I will.

Cheese pie is something we made regularly. It scratched our itches: it is starchy, fatty, salty, savory, a bit slick, a bit sweet, and a bit sour. Last time I made it, I think, was in Poland in 1989, for Tenia Rybkowska and Beatrice Ekwa Ekoko.

After I left my prison sentence in Bloomington, Indiana, and joyfully returned to New Jersey, Antoinette greeted me by baking cheese pie. Her daughters ate it all. It's okay with that. Traditions should be passed down.

I never used a recipe while cooking cheese pie. It took me a bit of focus to remember what all I needed to buy. Dill is the key thing. Rarely do I have dill in the kitchen, as much as I like it. Proportions were a challenge. How much of this? How much of that? Will this amount of this correspond to that amount of that?

Tasting cheese pie again, after decades of not eating it, was a blast from the past. It is as delicious as it was back then, but … there's no real vegetable component, no lean protein.

We grew up like that. A lot of cheap starches, few fresh fruits or vegetables, and just about no lean protein. It amazes me that we survived as long as we did.

The bowl of raw cookie dough I did not eat. The measuring cups surrounding the bowl are the actual cups Antoinette, my mother and I used back in the twentieth century. I retrieved them from the house last spring after Joe passed. 

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Final product. 

Starting in on the cheese pie. Slicing a vidalia onion. Should have used the whole thing but chickened out. 

This amount of onion intimidated me, but I really needed more. 

Coastal cheddar. Could not resist. Expected seaweed in the cheese. 

Again, I'm not suing a recipe, so I have to guess at how much cheese to grate. 

Looks like enough 

Is there any such thing as too much dill? Esp since I won't be using dill again any time soon. But oh for some Polish dill soup. Fond memories of Krakow. 

Okay so maybe there is such a thing as too much dill

How much yogurt? 

I found this pan somewhere. Don't blame the scratches on me. 

I grease the pan and dust it with powdered cake mix. Why not? 

The secrete to good cornbread is not to let it get too mixed. Leave lumps. Lotsa lumps. 

Pan too big? Improvise. 

Can this amount of onion, shredded cheddar, and yogurt cover that cornbread, mixed with a can of creamed corn? 

I like rocks, bring them home, and don't know where to put them. This rock, that I found on Garret Mountain, gives me so much pleasure when I hold it. It is heavy and rough. 

1 comment:

  1. Wish you'd write the approximate recipe down. I'd love to try it. And there's a jar of freeze dried dill in my pantry which I almost never use.