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Tastes Like Home

(by Katy Keck)

I sat down to write this story on the day my mom would have turned 95. We lost her to ALS nearly 40 years ago, way too young. Despite wanting to stay home with her as she became increasingly debilitated, I felt a responsibility to help her check one of the few boxes she could, mentally moving me from “To Do” to “Done.” She was thrilled to see her eldest launched, armed with a University of Chicago MBA and a job on Wall Street. Or so she thought. No one could imagine that I would end up with a 30+-year career in the culinary arts, that a mere six years after her passing, I would win a recipe contest and earn an apprenticeship in France that would change the trajectory of my life. It’s mildly ironic that my parents worked so hard to instill the I-can-do-anything drive in me at a time when most college-bound girls came home with a “Mrs.” and a teacher’s license. I headed to New York and ripped up Wall Street. And then, I ended up wearing an apron.

So many memories of my youth are wrapped around the exquisite specialties lovingly created by my mom and both grandmothers. Individual chess pie tarts, the freshest squeezed lemonade, crab bisque with a splash of sherry, tart June apple applesauce. The cooking sessions were always filled with tips: oil the scissors before snipping gumdrops for gumdro