This P.E.I. woman's recipe for coping during COVID-19 is sharing her grandmothers' treasured cookbook

Submitted by Lori McAskill

For as long as Islander Lori MacAskill could remember, the book was well-loved, tattered and fat with recipes her granny Muriel and nana Myrtle had compiled together over the years. 

For much of its life, the book of recipes lived in a drawer at granny Muriel's house, where it was barely contained — the drawer never could close all the way.

"My nana and my granny were both really good friends. They weren't just related by marriage, they were great pals and they shared recipes with each other all the time," MacAskill said.

Now that both her grandmothers have passed away, the book lives in MacAskill's kitchen.

"You literally can't close the book because there's so many extra recipes in the book and [granny Muriel] has her handwriting all on it," MacAskill said. 

"She would write whether the recipe was good or not, who she made it for, what year she made it." 

'Sentimental baking'

Since COVID-19 struck the Island, MacAskill, a former pastry chef, said the book has been a source of comfort.

Submitted by Lori McAskill

"It's really neat to go through the book and you see her name in her handwriting. You just have that moment of like, 'Yeah, she put a lot of love and thought into everything she did," MacAskill said.

"It's nice to embrace that, especially in a world where everything is so upside down, and crazy and there's a lot of negativity, it's nice to hold on to those sweet moments." 

Submitted by Lori McAskill

The book's ability to reach into her family's past and provide her comfort and guidance by way of her grandmothers' baking instructions made her to wonder if sharing the recipes could help others during COVID-19. 

"When I bake, it's sentimental baking, it's a connection to the past," she said. "I think of them constantly when I do it."

Submitted by Lori McAskill

MacAskill, 43, decided to put her grandmothers' recipes to good use in late March, sharing them in Facebook Live baking tutorials every Sunday. 

She started with granny Muriel's biscuits. 

But, she said sharing her biscuit recipe felt oddly difficult, as it was something that felt very personal and close to her. 

Submitted by Lori McAskill

"As soon as I shared it, I was like, you know what, this is what I'm supposed to be doing."

The response to MacAskill's tutorials has been heartwarming, she said, with a group of 20 or 30 faithfully joining in on Sundays and about 100 viewing the tutorials later. 

Jillian Drake/Facebook

MacAskill said she's also been careful to choose recipes from her grandmothers' book that include accessible ingredients and don't require people to have to leave the house. 

She said she plans to compile the pictures from everyone who has participated over the last several weeks and create a scrapbook and potentially share it with the participants, to serve as a reminder of a positive experience during the pandemic.

Allison Vincent/Facebook

"I've saved every picture that everybody's sent me," MacAskill said. "Quite a few people baking with their kids, which I love to see as well because that's how I started.

"For me, baking is showing love. So when I bake for family, friends, co-workers, that's my way of saying, 'Hey, I love you." 

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