So now all I had to do was come up with how I was going to use this entrepreneurial energy. Whatever I was going to do, I had the urge for it to be remarkable. I needed it to be extremely different from all that I had experienced thus far — and all that had been expected of me.
THE DISCOVERY OF MY MISSION
More than anything else, I believed my daughters — my three baby girls, who weren’t such babies anymore at the time — needed a mother who was doing remarkable things. I grounded my efforts in this belief. My girls were at very impressionable ages back then. I detested the idea of them coming of age believing that they always had to make their desires subservient to someone else’s — even mine.
Thinking about my girls in this way, wanting to be the best role model I could be, it occurred to me the answer to what I could sell was right here in my family.
MY GREAT-GREAT-GRANDMOTHER’SUNUSUAL LEGACY
I come from a family of cooking women. I mean they really cooked. I was the only daughter and was around my mother a lot. So, of course, I learned to cook, too. From early on, I had one of those little Easy Bake Ovens. (In fact, I had all the girlie, domestic toys.) I didn’t particularly like cooking, but it was definitely something that I was destined to learn. I didn’t have to cook for the family when I was growing up. My mother took care of that. But she made sure that I learned.
My mother had this recipe that had been handed down in our family from my great-great-grandmother. The recipe was for pancake syrup — we called it honey cream — and the tradition was that the third daughter in each generation would get to have it. It was to remain a secret to everyone else.
My great-great-grandmother was named America Washington, and she was born a slave in the 1860s. She worked for a family that did not like molasses on their pancakes. So she created a syrup for them. The syrup was made of churned butter, cream, and honey. America decided, for some reason, to pass down the secret recipe to only the third daughter of each generation. No one knows why she picked the third daughter — I imagine that maybe her third daughter was her favorite. Maybe she was a third daughter herself.
My mother was a third daughter, so she ended up with the recipe. When I was growing up, I thought that it was the only syrup around because that’s all we ate. We didn’t eat Mrs. Butterworth’s or Log Cabin. Nor did we eat any prepackaged pancakes. My mother was the type of cook who made everything from scratch. The pancakes were from scratch. The biscuits were from scratch. And the syrup was from scratch.
In fact, back then, probably most of what crossed the table was from scratch — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. You have to understand, my mother is in her