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Kitchen Secret
Jan Chronister


My mother spent weeks
crafting cookies for Christmas,
stored them away in tins,
took out five of each
to place on a tiered tray
when company came for dinner or tea.
Haystacks were my favorite,
chow mein noodles mixed
with peanut butter and chocolate.

Saffron bread was rationed,
recipe passed down
from family to family,
its essential ingredient
expensive as gold.
Mom brought home a few red stamens
wrapped in waxed paper,
steeped them, added the liquid to batter
along with raisins, dates, candied fruit.

Eating a yellow slice was tradition,
its unique taste enhanced by the mystery
of where she got the saffron.

From The Book of Eunice (Poetry Harbor, 2023).
Originally published in Herbs & Spices: a Flavorful Poetry Anthology (Highland Park Poetry, 2023).
Used here with permission.

Jan Chronister, now retired from teaching writing, is the author of three full-length poetry collections and nine chapbooks; the latest are The Book of Eunice, about her mother, and Land of Cotton, Land of Snow, the fourth in her annual series of "year in review" chapbooks. Gardening keeps Jan "grounded", as she puts it, and often provides inspiration for her poems. Jan and her husband of 50+ years divide their time between far north Wisconsin and South Georgia.


Post New Comment:
Nostalgia at its best
Posted 12/19/2023 11:10 PM
Lori Levy:
Sounds delicious.
Posted 12/19/2023 12:48 PM
Tom Sharpe:
Ah, memory holds boxes and boxes of cookies of sugar and butter and hand shelled Georgia pecans and the fruit cake made at Thanksgiving and wrapped in bourbon soaked cloth to age, miles and miles and miles ago.
Posted 12/19/2023 10:57 AM
I can taste the saffron bread just reading this! Well done, Jan!
Posted 12/19/2023 08:23 AM
Larry Schug:
Mothers! Hurray, for a thousand reasons.
Posted 12/19/2023 07:49 AM

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