Two of my favorite students were a brother and sister, children of two of the most wonderful people I've ever been privileged to know. To say the least, Stephen and Catherine did not fall far from the tree. Well-mannered, well-spoken, well-read and very mature for their ages...every interaction was a pleasure. Catherine became our chief number one babysitter and they're both very successful adults.
I ran into Catherine, now an outstanding teacher and wonderful mother, this afternoon and as always, the topic of rum cakes came up.
Catherine's daddy, Dennis, was a character in this world. He would make the most delicious rum cakes for piano recitals and Christmas presents. I'd beg for the recipe but he stood his ground and wouldn't give it to me for the world. He'd say, "I'll make them for you but I won't give you the recipe...besides, I promise you'd RATHER me make them for you because they are not easy."
I was unrelenting but he stood his ground. One time he developed a scavenger hunt for me. The idea was that if I did everything on the list (that took me ALL over town) I'd find the recipe. I did the darn scavenger hunt ALL over town and ended up at the library. The last clue was, "a favorite recipe by a southern belle" (imagine that!). I looked up and down the recipe book section and couldn't find a thing. (Turns out that the cookbook by Dinah Shore was checked out.) AAAARRRRGGGHHHH!
I finally gave up and let him make them for me. Some years later, Dennis fell ill and after several years of battling cancer, passed away. His was the first funeral service that Legare ever attended. For some reason, he, from an early age, called Dennis, "that boy." We never could figure out why.
I went over the the house the morning after Dennis passed away and his wife said, "wait...stay right there. I have something for you." She went back into the bedroom and returned with a piece of paper and handed it to me saying, "Dennis left instructions that I was to give this to you as soon as I saw you." It was the rum cakes recipe...not a copy, but his original. It had spots and stains and a little place on the side where it caught on fire one time. To make it easier for me since it was (IS) such a hard recipe, he'd written little notes on it. "Double this....I use oleo" Where it stated, "you may omit the rum"...Dennis wrote in capital letters, "WHY??"
I cried. Then I came home to make rum cakes. He spoke the truth. They ARE hard to make, but I make them every year (but usually just once at Christmas.)
A couple of years later, Hank had the recipe framed for me and it's among my most treasured possessions hanging here in my kitchen.
While Catherine and I chatted this afternoon, I told her about my new job. She said, "Daddy would love this...he's raising a glass to you right now!" Know what...I'm pretty sure that he did...and I'm honored!