My sister makes the best cheesecake I’ve ever had. She’s a great cook. No lie. She makes the best a lot of things I’ve ever had. In fact, I’ve made her promise that if I’m ever on death row, she’ll come cook my last meal.
Tonight I tried to recreate one of the recipes she often makes. She claims she got the recipe from Ina Garten, but my sister is a tweaker (no, that’s not a drug thing. At least not when I use it). So even though I went online and found the Ina Garten recipe, my weekday Bolognese tasted nothing like my sister’s. It was the cheesecake all over again.
This past summer, she and I had the chance to go to New York City together. We’d never traveled alone together and it was so much fun. One of the highlights was having brunch at Sarabeth’s right by Central Park. It lived up to all the great reviews. We had two big disappointments. The first was pizza (I’d sure we picked the wrong place). The second was the cheesecake. I looked around on line and found the best reviewed bakery in Little Italy.
Nevertheless, when we were sitting down with our three flavors of cheesecake, all I could say was, “It’s okay.”
“Yeah,” she said.
“Yours is better.”
She dropped her fork and looked at me, pale and aghast. “I think so, too!”
That was the last time I ate cheesecake that she hadn’t baked. I mean, what’s the point? But here’s the thing about my sister: no matter how her accomplishments, she plays them down.
“So where did you get your cheesecake recipe?” I asked once.
“Oh, it’s just the one on the cream cheese.”
“Really? ‘Cause I’ve made that and yours is better.”
“No, it’s the same,” she said, all innocence.
“The Philadelphia cream cheese?” I ask, disbelieving now.
“Sure. But I add a quarter cup of sugar. Oh, and I don’t use the crust. I use the crust recipe from the ghramcracker box. Except I add a half cup of sugar to that too. And I bake it fifteen minutes longer.”
“In other words, you use your own recipe that’s nothing like anything, anywhere?”
But that’s my sister for you. Her recipes are like closely guarded secrets. I know she loves me, I’m just not sure she loves me enough to share her recipes with me. However, she does love me enough to make me cheesecake, so I forgive her. With me, cheesecake buys you a lot.
So do you have any great recipes you don’t want to share with anyone?
I’ll give away a copy of my new books, All the Ever Wanted to one of the people who confesses what recipes they keep close to their chests.