Sunday, September 24, 2006

Lost recipes

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I started cooking at the age of 7. I don't know why, but I was fascinated by the idea of baking. Baking bread, cookies (chocolate chip of course), cakes and pies. The idea that you could take ordinary ingredients and bake up something wonderful to eat and that the family appreciates was magical and powerful at the same time.

Where did I get this love of cooking?

My Mother was a good basic cook. She didn't love cooking; instead it was something that needed to be done. Being the eldest of 9 children she had plenty of kitchen time helping her mother in preparing breakfasts and lunches for the entire family before they all went off to work and school. Cooking was not "fun" for my Mother. Yet she taught me the basics: how to make a white sauce for creamed tuna on toast, how to fry a chicken and make gravy, how to saute onions and calves liver. My Mother's dishes were inexpensive, stretching the food dollar fare that was good stick to your ribs home cooking.

My Father was a weekend cook who would experiment with new and exotic dishes. Homemade lasagne with hand made noodles and sauces simmered on the stove for hours on end or handmade ravioli each as large as the palm of my hand. Making enormous messes, using every pot, pan and bowl in the kitchen. My Father was not interested in stretching the food dollar, but more interested in free form use of spices and ingredients. Sometimes the dish would be a smashing success. Other times the food was inedible. It was always different and entertaining to eat on the weekends

I started collecting cookbooks in earnest when I was a teenager in the 1960's by clipping them from Seventeen magazine before it became a guide for young teenagers on how to have sex. My first purchase when I left home and went to live on my own in the hippie dippy years of 1968 was a hard maple rolling pin and a set of Fireking mixing bowls. I still have the rolling pin 38 years later, and the bowls are now found in antique shops as collectable items. Who knew? I should have treated the bowls better.

When I took a trip to Ireland in the 1970's, I bought cookbooks as souveniers. I have been collecting for years and now worry that some of these recipes will be lost or forgotten. So, in the spirit of keeping the good old and some of the bad old food alive, I plan to post some of my favorite recipies and some of the food that makes us go: "What were they thinking!!?!!"

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