Etched in Stone

The NYT had an article late last month called Family Recipes Etched in Stone. Gravestone, That Is. They say you can’t take it with you, but recipes do disappear when loved ones die. These families have found a novel way to record them for posterity.

It included this monument in Castor, Louisiana for Peony Watson that includes her recipe for peach cobbler. Another, Kay’s Fudge on this monument in Utah.

Not the same, but I think of Nora Ephron, whose recipes from her personal collection were distributed to those at her funeral.

I was leaving Nora Ephron’s memorial, perfectly planned by Nora herself, when a mutual friend rushed up to me. “Here, Liz!” she said, clutching a loose piece of paper. “Nora included your recipe for biscuits.” Instructions for random dishes—22 in all—had been tucked into each of the programs handed out at the service. “Let’s see what you got in yours.” It turned out to be a confounding pâté recipe, which I quickly exchanged for my own biscuit recipe.

There’s actually a peanut butter cookie Norah was crazy for — it was from the Dahlia Bakery in Seattle:

This may be the most sought-after cookie recipe in the book, the cookie that makes it into Seattle Metropolitan magazine’s food lover’s guide year after year. Once, when director, screenwriter (When Harry Met Sally), and novelist Nora Ephron was in town, she stopped by the dahlia Bakery and bought a few of these cookies. Later she e-mailed me, saying this was her all-time favorite and asked for the recipe. Naturally, I sent it to Nora along with a big package of cookies. When I asked Nora if I could name the cookie after her in my cookbook, she said, “Are you kidding me? This may be the greatest cookie ever ever ever.”

Of course, I got the cookbook. Norah Ephron is one of my favorite directors (not to be the crazy person, but there’s a tv in my office, and when it’s not playing Sunset Boulevard, the original Mildred Pierce and the Mildred Pierce series from HBO, I get in several screenings of her You’ve Got Mail each week — it’s this super familiar soundtrack to my working week. It’s like how I use Ken Burns’ documentary series on The Roosevelts to put me to sleep. My brain is filled with lines from FDR, Teddy, Eleanor, Mildred, Norma, and The Shop Around the Corner’s Kathleen Kelly.).

Anyway, you know this already. I made the peanut butter cookies. Not a fan of Skippy so hello Peter Pan, but yes. And they are terrific.

Peanut butter filled cookies, from the Dahlia Bakery cookbook -- the Nora Ephron

Can’t think of a recipe marker that I’ve run across, but I do know of a marker that’s almost like a resume or list of achievements, in Cullman County, Alabama:

Hopewell Cemetery, Hanceville AL

and this one, an acrostic, in Etowah County AL

Whitesboro Cemetery, Etowah County AL

statements of being the best, like this one in Walker County, Alabama, for “the greatest man G-d ever made”

"The Greatest Man G-d Ever Made" Kilpatrick Monument, Goodsprings Church of Christ Cemetery, Walker County AL

and #1 wife mother and grandmother, in Etowah County AL

#1 Wife, Mother, & Grandmother Monument at Noble Hill Missionary Baptist Church Cemetery, Attalla AL

also, a big fan of listing the family, like this one in Dekalb County, Alabama

Head Springs Cemetery, Valley Springs AL

Huge aside, but back to food and cemeteries: the Tennessee Pride Country Sausage mascot is present at the Odom family’s plot in Nashville.