The Red Apron

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​What’s the one item in your kitchen you can’t possibly cook without? A spice, your grandma’s measuring cup, instant ramen — what’s your magic ingredient, and why?

From The Daily Post on WordPress

So many things that pop into my head with this question, this prompt.

The one thing I probably always, always, always use when I am cooking is my apron. I was never a fan of aprons. I thought they were old-fashioned and silly and ridiculous looking. They are also one size fits all, and one size almost never fits me. I would never wear an apron.

I think I’m conflating two or three Thanksgivings that we hosted. I picture different apartments, different guests, but I also seem to recall only cooking Thanksgiving on my own once. We moved away from our families, about two hundred fifty miles – lower cost of living, not as crowded, and while we usually returned home for some of the holidays, this one year we did not. 

I don’t know what made me buy the apron. In addition to it being one size fits all, it was red; my least favorite color.

A red apron. It was probably literally one of the last things I would ever own, let alone buy.

I first time I used it, it was smooth, and tied easily around my back. I adjusted the neck, and stuck my hands in the large double pockets in the front. I still thought I looked ridiculous, but hey, it was Thanksgiving – wasn’t I supposed to wear an apron as part of the festivities?

I began to cook. I don’t remember what we made other than a very huge turkey that barely fit in our small apartment sized oven. I’m sure there were mashed potatoes and a vegetable. There was probably a sweet potato pie – my favorite and this long ago I probably also followed the recipe more closely, so it was near perfect to my friend’s who taught it to me.

What I do remember is unconsciously wiping my dirty hands on my apron, and after two more times and some long minutes, I realized what I was doing, and I was never more grateful for a kitchen item in my life. That apron saved my clothes.

It was then that I realized that this one size fits all that never fits, actually went a little bit around my hips protecting my dark pants as well.

I nodded my head, and grinned, and I was really glad that I bought this red apron.

In the years since then, that apron gives me the illusion of being a cook. Now, don’t get me wrong, I am actually a good cook. I do food good. Breads. Sweet breads. Ginger cookies. I’m terrible at baking, which is why none of my kids get a homemade birthday cake except my middle guy – he loves cheesecake and asks for it every year, so that’s win-win for everyone.

I can’t remember how many times I’ve left my watch in the pocket; or my wedding rings from baking bread from scratch or my cell phone. The pockets are even big enough to hold my kindle that I use for some of the recipes.

I have actually brought that apron on vacation with me. I’ve brought it to my mother-in-law’s for Thanksgiving dinner to help out in the kitchen. I made three trips to visit friends – once to Denver and twice to Williamsburg, Virginia, and I brought it and used it both times. The first time I also brought frozen ginger snap cookie dough to make when I got there. After the last time, I wore it to polish silver for our special, fancy dinner, and it changed the color of my red apron in some places.

I was sad, but I can’t bear to get rid of it or replace it. After three years, it seems to have gained character from the stain.

The last time I wore it was probably Christmas dinner just a few weeks ago. Roast beef, butter, sticky marshmallows, and I think I spilled a soda.

I’m really glad I had that apron on.

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