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Cheryl Sternman Rule Shares a Recipe Close to Her Heart

Cheryl Sternman Rule

Cheryl Sternman Rule Shares a Recipe Close to Her Heart

As part of's ongoing Recipe Vault series, food bloggers and network stars share how recipes connect us to those we’ve lost.

Cheryl Sternman RuleCheryl Sternman Rule is the author of two cookbooks: Yogurt Culture (April 2015) and Ripe: A Fresh, Colorful Approach to Fruits and Vegetables (2012). An award-winning writer – her blog 5 Second Rule has been honored by Saveur as well as the International Association of Culinary Professionals – Rule has contributed to a wide variety of national food magazines including Cooking Light, Eating Well, Women's Health and many more.

Today, we're talking to Cheryl about how recipes help us remember the past and define our legacy.

Legacy: When you make that recipe for your family, do you think about Helen? Do you feel a connection with her when you're preparing those pancakes?

Cheryl: To be honest, sometimes yes and sometimes no. At this point, I've made them so much that the recipe feels more like it's Clifton's recipe. But when I sat down to write up this recipe a couple years ago, I definitely thought of Helen. … She is the one who originated it for my family. It was moving to me, when I wrote the recipe down, to think of her, and to think of her at my wedding. I thought about the beautiful wedding gift she gave us, which was very generous and luxurious. But it's this recipe – it's this idea, this series of ingredients and steps – that has created genuine food memories in my own family and for my own children. I'm very grateful to her for that, though she'll never know.

Legacy: If you were to be remembered by one recipe, what would it be?

Cheryl: I think I'll be most remembered for cooking pretty much every day of my kids' childhood – meals that are casual but still wholesome, comforting but also a bit out of the ordinary, a bit unique. I hope my family will remember me as someone who didn't fuss too much about food but still enjoyed the daily rhythm of putting meals on the table. In terms of epic meals, that one's easier. Every New Year's Day since I attended culinary school back in 2003, I have hosted a huge brunch for all my friends and the families of my kids' friends. I cook for days … croissants and scones, quiches and tarts, frittatas and large platters of colorful fruit. Our family loves this gathering, and our friends have really come to enjoy the annual ritual of ringing in the New Year at our home. So, yes, I'm fairly sure my family and friends will remember me for that! That would be a legacy I'd love to leave behind.

Legacy: How did you first get interested in cooking?

Cheryl: I changed careers right after my second son was born, and cooking and photography … were always interesting to me as creative outlets. I am not creative in other artistic fashions – I'm not musical. I dabbled in cooking and baking a little bit as a kid and always enjoyed it, but my interest took a more intense turn after my mother died in 2002. My sons were very young and I made a big career shift at that point, deciding to go to culinary school to pursue a creative career over my existing academic career. I wanted to be actively involved in making things, and food was the happiest medium for me.

Legacy: What is one recipe that reminds you of someone you've lost?

Cheryl: My mother-in-law, Clifton Rule, had a very close friend named Helen. Helen was an Eastern European Jew and made this classic cottage cheese pancakes recipe. She taught Clifton the recipe and served it to her at certain points in their friendship. My mother-in-law, who's not Jewish and has a very different background, loved them so much that she absorbed that recipe into her own repertoire, and my husband and my sister-in-law grew up eating them. At some point when I joined the family, I started eating them, and then when I had kids, I started making them for my own kids. So they're now sort of a Rule family recipe, but they were not ours to begin with. Sadly, Helen got cancer and passed away way too young. She was at our wedding in 1994 and passed away just a few years later, but I do feel like she lives on for my family through this recipe.

Written by Linnea Crowther. Find her on Google+.

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