Thursday, April 5, 2012

Family Recipe

When Jason and I got married, my family instantly doubled as he and his teenage daughter moved in with my teenage daughter and me.  There was definitely an adjustment phase for all four of us, but my stepdaughter Krysta had to make the biggest adjustment of all.  She had to leave her home, her school, and move farther away from her grandmother and her boyfriend.  I let her paint and decorate her room the way she wanted, and also welcomed her pets, anything to make her feel more at home.

At mealtime, it became no secret that Krysta preferred her father’s cooking over mine (not that I blame her, I prefer his cooking over mine, too).  But when both parents work, chores such as cooking must be shared.  Whether it was something simple like hamburgers, or something a little more complex like beef stroganoff or chicken casserole, she would eat what I cooked without complaint, but I could tell it just wasn’t the same for her.  It’s not like I was trying to outdo her dad, I merely wanted to find at least one dish I could cook for her that she would enjoy and find comfort in.  Food can be an expression of love, and I just had not found that special dish for Krysta yet, and was not sure if I ever would.   

One cold winter day Jason decided it was a good night for chili.  I do not like chili so I opted to make vegetable beef soup for myself as it’s one of my favorite comfort foods that my mom made for me when I was growing up.  She didn’t use a recipe.  It was simply a matter of using whatever vegetables we had (whether leftover from the past few days or fresh from our garden), combined with ground beef and seasonings.  I eventually learned how to make my own version of this soup, but it still tastes best when my mom makes it.  While making the soup, I was under the impression that Krysta did not like vegetable beef soup because her dad doesn’t so I was not trying to impress her when I made it.  To my surprise, she ladled up a bowl at supper that night and ate it.  She complimented me on it, but I thought she was just being polite. 

A few weeks later I took Krysta to the doctor for a cold and sore throat.  Afterwards, we stopped by the grocery store to pick up a few things.  I decided to make it frozen pizza night so Jason or I would not have to cook.  Krysta asked if she could have soup instead since her throat was sore and it hurt to swallow.  As she looked at all the different soup cans, she would pick one up, ask a question like “What kind is this?” or “Do you think this is any good?”, then put it back on the shelf.  It wasn’t until several questions later that I realized what she was really asking. 

“Is this soup like yours?”  she inquired.  With those words, a bell went off in my head. 

“Do you want me to make you some of my soup?”  I asked.

“If it’s not too much trouble,” she said with puppy dog eyes.

Since then, she has requested my soup several times.  I told her I would teach her how to make it herself, but so far, she refuses, stating “It tastes better when you make it.” 

Score one for the stepmom. :) 

***I submitted this story to Chicken Soup for the Soul's Food and Love book, but it didn't make it.  Maybe it's not the most well-written story, but it is nonetheless a memorable story for me.  ;)

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