Thus begins a sporadic series of posts titled “Cooking with Betsy,” a tribute to the woman who taught me to love cooking. The series will be a retrospective of healthy cooking with a vintage flair. A glimpse into a woman who was proud to be a mother, housewife and cook; and did so with an authoritative work ethic and acute determination.
The apron. The iconic symbol of my mom. This will be my second Mother’s Day without her. What do I remember most about her cooking? The aprons. The cotton was soft and worn thin from thousands of spins through the wash. There was a sereneness about her when she tied on an apron. She was in her element. Her orderliness was obvious. Betsy appreciated the sequential aspects of cooking. Recipes were to be followed exactly. No minor deviation was permitted.
There were two kinds of aprons: short and long. The short aprons tied at the waist with a bow. Half fashion, half friend. They had two pockets; one held a pack of Viceroys and the other held a well-worn Kleenex blotted with pink/red lipstick. Short aprons were for making lunch and dinner. They were ironed each week and hung in the broom closet when not in use.
But when the full apron was slipped on, it was our cue, as kids, to stay clear of the kitchen and not get into any trouble, or there’d be hell to pay. There was a massive project going on: pickle making, jam preserving, or holiday meal preparation. The full aprons were panoptic, utilitarian work horses. Betsy was in full-on work mode, and the results would be spectacular.
As Betsy aged, the cooking projects began to cease. And so did the apron sightings. I don’t know exactly when she stopped wearing them. When cleaning out her apartment after she passed away, I can’t recall even finding one in her kitchen. How I wish I had saved just one of those aprons. They are burned into my memory, though, from the back.