Every family (kitchen) has secrets. And cleaning out cabinets today (we are having our kitchen renovated between the holidays), we found all sorts things to stir memories. An enormous jar of Costco Chili powder. It expired two years ago, some time after we had learned that my health problems were in large part caused by love for spicy food. Or more precisely, my food allergy to foods that contain the ingredient found in peppers particularly chilies. Also in the back of the cabinet dusty cans of food and last years’ Mason jars of soup (lentil) that neighbors and friends gave us. And other sauces and bagged sugar that seem to have expired two or more years ago. Cleaning out the cabinets in preparation for a kitchen renovation next week, these had been pushed to the back by successive Christmases’ stock of fresh sugar, chocolate and other ingredients for treats.
Whatever your religious or secular attitude, people love to share food with one another. And at this time of year, a tradition started decades ago, are the Christmas treats my wife makes – dipped chocolate peanut butter ball, aka, “Sheri’s balls”. (Try telling this to your pastor, rabbi, or cleric with straight face, when enjoying them for the first time, asks what we call them. ) These chilled treats are widely sought after by friends, neighbors, coworkers, and an ever-growing number of admirers. Though a couple of friends have tried to make them, unsuccessfully, the “secret” family recipe is really not. Handmade treats are probably as much passion and inspiration as a recipe. Beginning two years ago, when our eldest son and daughter-in-law were still living out-of-state, Chris asked for his mother’s recipe to make peanut butter balls for his family and friends. This year his mother gave him the leftover ingredients as he is continuing the family tradition. A family secret gets passed down.