The view from my cup…cookbooks. Even though it is tremendously easy to search online for recipes, I still prefer searching by leafing through a cookbook. Our house has a wide variety of cookbooks, from Betty Crocker to ones specializing in various foods. Sausage, onions, cheese, pasta, herbs. Then there are the categories of food cookbooks. Jewish, church recipe collections, vegetarian, recipes using old-time brand names.
I also have my mother’s recipe box which I go through periodically to retrieve family favorites. That is always a walk down memory lane, remembering meals past with my family. Admittedly, there are occasionally tears when I see my mother’s handwriting again. It’s always startling to see the familiar beautiful, flowing script. Filed alphabetically, I’m aware how alike our tastes were when I thumb through the ‘O’ section and realize nearly every recipe in there is for an onion based dish.
There are also recipes in the box from my mother’s friends. She named them accordingly…Netta’s rolls, Rita O’s apricot oatmeal bars, Jayne’s Russian dressing, Edra’s champagne punch. That practice has kept alive the memory of these women in my mind for years, long after her, and their, death.
I have recipes of my own named in much the same way. Bee’s broccoli salad, Kelly’s sweet potato casserole, Harvey’s Coconut custard Pie. And a favorite, in my son’s seven year old childlike scrawl, ‘Dad’s Recipe for Spaghetti Sauce.’
I have to admit, I don’t make an over-abundance of new or different dishes from recipes. Like many others, I tend to cook the tried and true time and again. We do experiment with new dishes, sometimes adding things to our list of favorite foods. And sometimes vowing that was the first and last time we prepare that one!
I can say we most usually home-cook meals, rarely resorting to pre-cooked, pre-packaged foods. For the most part, fresh beats frozen and baked surpasses nuked every time. It doesn’t take that much longer, really. And the biggest benefit is the same as it was when I was a child with my mother in the kitchen…spending time cooking together with someone I love. My significant other can cook, I’m happy to say. His knife skills are better than mine. His chicken and dumplings are too. But it’s a toss-up who looks cuter in a chef’s apron.
Currently I’m working on my own cookbook, Mid-Century Meals. Lots of memorable dishes we ate in the fifties and sixties. And lots of cocktails that harken back to that era. Some are comfort food, pure and simple. Some are representative of the era, but better left back there in memory. Tomato aspic, anyone?
What are your cookbook or recipe memories? I’d love to know!