Age is not a barrier. At 88 years old, my grandma Ruby is glorious proof of that. While many men and women her age struggle to stay relevant during their later years, my gorgeous Teta is more resourceful than ever thanks to an unlikely source: the iPad.
Last year, I found myself curious of the impact the tablet would have on my beloved grandmother. Would she embrace it? Or fiddle with it for a day, only to let it gather dust in the confines of her old medicine cabinet? Thankfully, surprising Ruby with the device ended up being one of my brighter moments, as the results were nothing short of remarkable.
Let me count the ways Teta Ruby uses her iPad: she calls her grandkids abroad, plays Solitaire before going to bed every night, gives us ominous weather forecasts, and remains persistently up-to-date on world news. However, the latest weapons in Teta Ruby’s arsenal are the cooking apps. You see my grandma is not just a powerhouse chef with piercing blue eyes and a heartwarming smile, she’s an artist when it comes to mouthwatering treats. From her sinfully scrumptious cakes, to her much-adored Kibbe Bil Sineyeh, each of her concoctions is a joy to behold (and devour).
One of her creations in particular, has reached icon status in our family: The Ruby Christmas Turkey. While the majority of Lebanese prepare an oriental turkey with a side of rice, Teta’s turkey is an American-style delicacy, which she’s been making for over 30 years (and yes that’s older than I am). Ruby took the foundations of a simple recipe passed on to her by her sister-in-law, and finely perfected it over the years according to her “feelings”. The heavenly stuffing now comprises a lot of herbs (fresh sage, rosemary, pepper, oregano), mushrooms, celery, bacon, bread cubes, and chicken – all of which are half-cooked earlier. As for the luscious gravy, it’s flavored with pepper and white wine, and thickened with cream to create the perfect texture.
Ruby’s clever preparation tactics don’t end there; she places pieces of lard over the breast of the turkey to ensure it stays moist, and bathes extra stuffing in turkey fat to appease our gluttonous appetites. Moreover, Teta believes that having sweet potatoes with marshmallows on the side (among other odds and ends) is crucial in contrasting the heaviness of the meat.
And what’s her favorite moment of the endeavor you ask? It’s not the beautiful, roasted turkey making its exit out the oven, but the delightful instant at the end of the meal when she realizes it’s all gone.
While Teta Ruby continuously strives to top herself with her time-honored turkey tradition, her masterpieces still make appearances on a weekly basis during our Saturday lunches. She’s dedicated to enhancing her culinary capabilities by discovering intriguing recipes online and forwarding pictures (through her new email address of course) to cunningly entice us.
So no, age and technology have not hindered my Teta. On the contrary, they’ve helped unlock her potential and soar beyond what we ever thought possible. Her memory is sharper, and her sarcastic tongue (which I’ve proudly inherited) is more proficient than ever. Suffice to say, the world of possibilities that she’s tapped into is staggering and there’s no stopping her now.
Today and more than ever, Teta Ruby, 88 and counting, is on fire.
Previously published in The Carton.