My husband’s Grandmother could create magical butterhorn crescent rolls from scratch. They were buttery, flaky little treasures that would flush the cheeks of Betty Crocker. After years of enjoying these tasty treats on holidays and special occasions, I summoned up the courage and made the request for her recipe. She humbly complied with my request and carefully scripted the top-secret formula on a 3 x 5 index card. I excitedly returned to my kitchen where I spent the next 2 weeks painstakingly following the directions she so carefully transcribed. Each attempt resulted in varying degrees of disaster leaving me to question my culinary proficiency. Following every embarrassing result I would phone her in hopes she could diagnose the issue. The response I received with each S.O.S. appeal was the same: “Well dear, if you just follow the directions I’m sure they will turn out perfectly.” There you had it…I was a dope.
Eventually, I gave up the quest for butterhorn crescent roll perfection and allowed my dear ‘ole Grandmother-In-Law to reign supreme.
Years past when out of the blue my husband made a suggestion I still question to this day. He proposed that I invite Granny to our house and video tape her making her rolls. He said, “This would be such a great memorial and she is in her 80’s. Won’t live forever.” I said, “What a great idea!” He said, “Oh by the way, you may be able to get some baking pointers.” I said, “What the hell.”
I did in fact, receive some pointers although they were inadvertently provided. I learned that dear ‘ole Gran Gran left out a key ingredient. I suspect this was intentional because I also learned that she had been cheating in our weekly games of Canasta.
So…are there etiquette rules for this sort of situation? Of course there are! Go ahead and humbly make the request for the delicious recipe. This is well within acceptable boundaries however; be prepared for a refusal. While the request is the ultimate form of flattery, some folks are just not comfortable divulging their secret formulas. That’s OK to.
The other lesson learned is never underestimate the craftiness of an elderly woman and don’t allow her to ever cut the deck.