EXCERPT: 'The Recipe Club'

Read an excerpt from Andrea Israel and Nancy Garfinkel's book "The Recipe Club."

ByABC News via logo
October 26, 2009, 11:57 AM

— -- Lifelong friends Lilly and Val rekindle their lost childhood friendship in "The Recipe Club." Nicknamed "Lillypad" and "Valpal" as children, the two began exchanging letters and recipes in a secret Recipe Club they formed.

CLICK HERE for the recipe for Mighty Math Muffins from the book.

After reading the excerpt below, head to the "GMA" Library to find more good reads.

from: VRUDMAN@webworld.comdate: APRIL 6, 2000subject: HELLO AGAIN

Dear Lilly,I've started a letter just like this about a thousand times. "Dear Lilly," I'd write, as if I knew what came next. But that was as far as I got. I never knew what to say or how to say it. And I wasn't sure you'd ever want to hear my voice again.

But today I know exactly what I have to tell you, and I know you'd want this to come from me. My mother died. Last month, of cancer. Maybe your father already told you; I don't remember what he said at the funeral.It was a hard day. It's been a hard two years. And now that it's over, it feels like walking through a dream—a milky gauze of grief. And relief. And guilt at the relief.

Oh, Lilly. This is not how I hoped to find you again. But maybe it's the only way. Death always makes me want to make sense of things. I want to understand my mother's life. I want to understand my own. Perhaps this all feels too raw, too real, too intimate. If so, I'm sorry. But I just had to take the chance that you'd still be there for me the way you once were. I can't begin to tell you how much it would mean for us to reconnect. Even after—especially after—all these many years.Valerie

to: VRUDMAN@webworld.comfrom: LSTONE@dotnet.comdate: APRIL 7, 2000subject: RE: HELLO AGAIN

Dear Val,I honestly don't know what to say…I'm so sorry about your mother. I hope you find some solace in theknowledge that she loved you and was proud of you. I hope you can carry that with you, along with her smile and that wonderful, raucous laugh that always surprised everyone.Regards to you. And to your family.


to: VRUDMAN@webworld.comfrom: LSTONE@dotnet.comdate: APRIL 7, 2000subject: A THOUSAND PARDONS!

Forgive me for that awful version of a ten-cent drugstore sympathy card and let me start all over: Val, hearing from you has shaken me to the very core. I'm reminded of all we once had and lost. Twenty-six years of silence—and then, at long last, you appear!

When I got your e-mail I cried out loud. There you were, or the essence of you, in your brief words. So very palpable. I mean, Christ! Thanks to cyberspace, you were almost here with me in these beloved mountains.

Oh, nuts. I'm not very good at this. What I'm trying to convey, in a clumsy way, is that I've spent a lot of time and energy (not to mention thousands of bucks on therapy) convincing myself that our fight was just one of life's many painful lessons. People change, they go different ways.

Even the best of friends. I told myself, so be it. "Move on…," to quote Sondheim. (The very song I once used to open my act.)

But the truth is, Val, I can't tell you how many times I've whispered to myself, tonight I'll look out into the audience and she'll be there. I can't tell you how many times I've pretended that somehow, you will just turn up. That somehow we will find a way to be friends again. Look, it's all just a long-winded way of saying: yes, Val, I'm still here for you. Honestly, sweetie, you can count on that.

I know when we last spoke, so many moons ago, the problems between us—I mean all of us—were insurmountable (at least they seemed that way to me). Which is why I think you'll find it amazing, if not unbelievable, that at long last my father and I are becoming close. I recently moved back home to live with him. It's temporary. And though it's been good for each of us, it's also been, as you might imagine, less than easy. In fact, right now I'm taking a break at the cabin. (Yes, the family still keeps theplace, complete with outhouse and no phone! Can you believe it? So, to get my e-mails I have to trek all the way to Lake Placid, almost forty-five minutes from Keene Valley, to an Internet cafe—which I thankthe techno-goddesses for.)

Anyway, at your mother's funeral, you may have noticed my father is a changed man. The infamously stony Isaac Stone is much more vulnerable these days. Your mother's death hit him surprisingly hard. It's the first time I've seen him weep. It must have something to do with all the losses he's facing: a recent retirement. Failing eyes. A broken heart—he's unable to let go of my mother, who's no longer with us.Which brings me back to the real question: why didn't I just reach out to you once I heard about your mother? The truth is, I got scared. I found myself hoping, with all my heart, that you would be the brave one to break our icy silence. And I thank you for that.

I've been a coward. Maybe I just didn't know how to express the simplething you said: I can't begin to tell you how much it would mean for usto reconnect.

I won't trouble you with the details of my life right now. In summary: deep love, despair, deeper love, deeper despair, and now…well, a sort of limbo place thanks to a lover who can't commit and my own confusion about intimacy. I'm trying to figure it all out, even though that's a bit like trying to lasso the moon.

My heart goes out to you. My thoughts are with you, and your family. Despite the sad reason for your e-mail, I am extremely happy to hear from you. (Do you remember what loyal correspondents we were when we were kids?)

Write again, if you have the time and the interest.

Much love,Lillyp.s. How is "Golden Boy"…Ben? Please send him my love.

to: lstone@dotnet.comfrom: vrudman@webworld.comdate: april 15, 2000subject: i forgot to tell you something...


I've slowly been going through all of Mom's possessions (which has been very painful, but that's another story). Anyway, among her many things I found a gorgeous flowered hat box—filled with your Recipe Club letters to me!

Remember? They date all the way back to the beginning, when we were about ten years old. They were just as I had left them—a little yellower and crunchier for age, but still organized (even in the infancyof my anal-compulsive style) in chronological order, wrapped neatly in blue and white satin ribbons.Glancing at the postmarks makes me think that a bunch may have gone awol. Perhaps they're in a box I haven't yet uncovered.

I've been reading them, laughing and crying. I realize now that they were truly my first love letters. You, dear Lilly, were the first friend I ever loved, and who loved me back, and whom I continue to love even after all this time apart.

I just had to tell you that I found them. Just like I found you.xxxV.