Don’t handle the dough too much, Granny scolded the young girl standing on a stool in order to reach the kitchen counter. “The heat from your hands will melt the butter and ruin the texture of the dough.” Granny said as she wagged her finger. The girl gathered up the crumbs surrounding the ball of dough. Tucking the bundle tightly into a sticky piece of plastic wrap, she rubbed her hands together to clean some of the crusted dough from her palms.
“Ok, pop it into the fridge and we’ll let it chill over night.” Granny said as she stacked the dirty dishes high in the sink. The small girl hopped off the stool and headed to the bathroom to wash her hands. “Hey, wait a second, you’re not done here!” Granny shouted after her, pinching the girl’s butt cheek as she walked by. “Clean-up the dishes first and then you can go play. Tomorrow we’ll make the filling for the dough!”
As I kneaded the fresh pizza dough I will serve to friends for dinner tonight, I thought back to my first lessons in the kitchen and the toughest chef I have ever worked for – my Granny. I tucked the smooth ball of dough into a lightly oiled bowl and covered it with a clean kitchen towel. As I washed the dishes, I thought of many of the lessons about food and flavors Granny passed on to me in her kitchen. It was the one room in the house where we spent most of our afternoons together, cooking furiously for our large family and laughing joyfully over a story or two. Granny always managed to slip in a few lessons about life amongst her detailed cooking instructions as we worked together. Wiping the counters clean and setting the table for this evening’s dinner, I suddenly remembered that today is her birthday!
I quickly reached for the phone as I dimmed the kitchen lights. “Hello Granny, it’s me, Happy Birthday!” I said, hearing her hearty ripple of laughter on the other line. “Do you think you could give me that recipe for that sweet yeast dough we used to make together?” I said pulling off my apron reaching for a pen and paper…