How to use up summer’s bounty – The Denver Post

Both of my parents died in 1999; she in April, he in September. Fifty years of marriage plus nine kids equaled a whole lot of stuff to catalog, sort through, redistribute among the family.

Among which was an enormous wooden trunk, dome-topped, lashed in iron straps and rivets. Totally “Treasure Island.”

My mother had filled it with one thing only, although many specimens of the same: each and every Gourmet magazine to which she had subscribed, likely as soon as she had moved to Denver from her native Belgium in 1949.

I and one of my younger brothers, he even more strapping than I, could not lift the trunk without first moving out the magazines in phases. I believe that the heaviest object on the planet is a 45-cubic foot agglomeration of clay-coated magazine paper.

Our mother wanted to keep the famed magazine’s recipes, many of which she had cooked for us. But not one of which she ever had thrown away. I remember her once saying, about any specific recipe in hand and therefore about all recipes she kept, “Just in case I want to make this.”

The trunk was not the sole trove. She collected thousands of recipes, scissored from newspapers mostly, stuffed in drawers, layered like pommes Anna. She also wrote dozens of her own, many inspired by those from chefs from whom she had taken cooking classes over the years, plus the many that she herself composed for her own cooking school.

Of these recipes in their accumulation, what I remember most is their inviting perfume, of aging paper, mottled with cooking liquids long soaked up, dried and thus kept, and with the inks of both her pens and typewriter ribbons.