My dad passed away last week. You might have known him here as SantaDad. He took great delight in that nickname, which came from an early story about how confusing as a kid I found the pictures of my dad on a fire truck dressed as Santa Claus as a) we are Jewish; and b) everyone knows Santa Claus comes down a chimney, duh. I realize this doesn’t make it any less head-scratching and I’ve decided to not even try to clear it up.
My dad loved commenting here. He would joke about how rude it was for me to leave the last slice of a cake at their house when he was trying to watch his Weight Watchers points. He’d ask me to try to get my mom to try a recipe that looked good. If I mentioned an article or a side project here, I’d get a “Nobody ever tells me nuthin!” When there was something in The Boston Globe, he complained about all the Red Sox ads they ran alongside the article. He’d correct things I remembered wrong, such as the cherry tree in the backyard, which I remembered fondly, and he remembered as a battle with squirrels and birds that would eat all the cherries if you didn’t pick them in the first hour they appeared. He’d leave reviews of recipes they tried, always enthusiastic (the best latkes he ever had, a 7-layer cake Grandpa Joe would be proud of). He jokingly threatened to disown me when I called making bagels anything short of my greatest cooking triumph, and then he found his reading glasses and apologized. He’d fill me in on the news of the day, such as the fact that our dental hygienist was a lurker on the site and wanted to know if I could do more kosher recipes.
He was a good egg. This past weekend would have been my parents 50th anniversary. We talk here about engagements and weddings and babies and first days of school and birthdays and cocktails and dinner parties and holidays all of the cakes we ate to celebrate them — it’s easier when it’s good news. But my dad liked this space (while expressing grave concern over typos, just like you), he was proud of my work (if you, a total stranger, made it 5 minutes into a conversation with him at the grocery store or a bank and he didn’t bring it up, well, I don’t believe you), and I know this site was brighter with him in it.
I’ve been cooking a lot this week. I’m probably not “supposed” to be, but I’m happier when I stay busy. I made this mushroom soup and the marble cake from my second cookbook. I made my our family’s chocolate chip sour cream coffee cake — twice. My sister made the noodle kugel that my mom says she married my dad just to get the recipe for. And I just pulled out of the oven my first massive casserole of eggplant parmesan — something my dad always liked, but that endlessly perplexes me. More on that and many of his other favorites, soon.