Friday, November 12, 2010


I've been reading Julia Child's My Life in France.  Julia was in the kitchen as much as possible, experimenting, making the same recipe in a different way, sometimes over and over.  She would just keeps at it until the finished product satisfies her.  I've never been that tenacious of a cook.  If I make a recipe and it doesn't turn out, I rarely ever make it again
Growing up, my mother wasn't a very good cook.  My dad would joke "when the smoke alarm goes off, you know dinner is ready. "

In the years I was growing up, kids didn't sit in front of the television or a computer screen, after school.  When the weather permitted, we were outdoors, playing.  Every night.  We basically had the run of the neighborhood and knew when we were expected home.  We would spend out evenings playing ball tag or hide and seek or basketball or baseball or riding our bikes.  I can remember each night as I would head for home, often, the stars would just be beginning to peek through.  As I looked up and spied the first star in the summer sky, my wish was often the same:  "Star-light, star-bright, first star I see tonight, I wish I may, I wish I might, have this wish I wish tonight.  Then I would repeat the same words nearly every evening:  I hope we have something good for supper tonight. 

That was another difference- I don't know if it was generational or geographic, but we called our meals breakfast, lunch and supper.  It was never dinner.  I now call the evening meal dinner,  so I tend to believe it was either generational (my parents) or that my relatives hail from Kentucky. 

My mother never taught me to cook.  She taught my brother to cook, but not my sister or me.  My ex and I stumbled about early in our marriage trying to cook.  He knew as much or more about cooking as I did.  He and I married in late '78 and the popular cookbook was the one I've pictured here, the orange copy of the Betty Crocker cookbook.  I love that cookbook to this day.  It has about every recipe you would ever need and the layout is user friendly.  

When Doug and I got together, he had the same cookbook.  Our cookbooks now occupy the same shelf in the kitchen, my cookbooks to the far right, Doug's cookbooks to the far left.  Doug's dad was Amish for the first twenty-some years of his life and all of the men in Doug's family are very comfortable in the kitchen.  Doug cooks a lot more than I do. 

When I was with my ex, it didn't ever seem to me that it mattered what I cooked or how much effort I went to when preparing a meal.  With my chicken and noodles being the one exception, his response was the same - he ate it.  He never got very excited if I made whatever from a can or a box or from scratch.  After awhile I decided it wasn't worth the effort to make much from scratch, so I didn't.  If I make something that requires much effort at all, I want whoever is eating it to rave about it.  Doug is always good about appreciating whatever it is that I make for him.

In the years that it was my son and daughter and me, I had my specialty dishes, but we didn't always sit down at the table for a meal.  They were with their dad half of the time and we were often on the go, to play rehearsal or a soccer game.  Both my son and daughter are good cooks.  To this day when they come home, they have their favorite dishes that they ask for.

I like the concept of cooking more than actually cooking.  I collect recipes, too.  Then ever so often (I just did this, tonight) I go through all of the clipped from newspapers and magazine recipes and throw out all of the ones I don't think I will ever get around to cooking. 

Because of reading my life in France, I've been thinking about cooking.  Also, the holidays are approaching.  I'm thinking about it.  I'm thinking about cooking.
What is your favorite cookbook?


K.T. said...

This year for Christmas, I am putting together a cookbook of our family recipes. I will get my Mom's recipe card box tomorrow. It is an old metal box that holds 3 x 5 cards with a red, blue, and yellow design on it. Last time I looked through it, the cards were sort of crumbling away. I think I need to get some of them recorded before they can't be copied anymore. I also have a book of my recipes that I have collected throughout the years.
Everyone in my family has their specialty. My Mom is a great baker and her cakes and cookies are the best ever. Everyone wants her to make her famous oatmeal cake. I make great calzone, turkey, and oatmeal cinnamon pancakes. My sister makes amazing barbeque sauce. My sister-in-law's specialty is yeast rolls and macaroni and cheese.
I also have my grandmother's recipe book with lots of handwritten recipes, mostly pickles, but plenty of other good stuff too.
All together, it should be a good collection of all our family favorites.

Chatty Crone said...

I am not that great of a cook to have a favorite cookbook - lol - but the cookbook you have pictured - I still have - my very first one.

^..^Corgidogmama said...

Your Betty Crocker was the one I had in the seventies as well. Must have been a mass seller to all the boomers!
I've been wondering about Julia's book that you're now reading.
I seldom use a recipe, except for baking...must be my rebellious Catholic explanation needed for those with similar histories, hee hee!
I gave Pioneer Woman to my BFF, Tasha Tudor/Jessica Seinfeld/and many others to my daughter. I look at 'em once, and move on to the newest fiction! I do gather recipes from PW's site and Cooking Light etc., via online. Scribbled down in shorthand that I can't figure out later, but still wing it! Sigh....I'm hopeless, but love to chop veggies and cook entree's/sides much more than baking. There's always corgi hair in the dish...tough for company, but Jim doesn't mind...thank heavens. I never get a comment from Jim about anything I make, except...get this....pigs in a blanket. One hotdog, one cresent roll, one slice cheese. He loves 'em.

farmlady said...

Thinking is the beginning of every effort in life. I really think that I agree with you about liking the idea of cooking more than actually doing it. But, if you are starting to think about The Holidays then I think you will be cooking soon.
I, personally, like baking desserts best but tomorrow night there will be Julia Childs Beef Bourguignon for dinner because I gave it some serious thought, looked up the recipe, went to the store and bought the ingredients.

I was raised on Mastering the Art of French Cooking. My Mother was a really great cook, but when I got married my little bible was the Betty Crocker Cookbook. It's one of the best for beginners and I still use it .
Nice post....

Lisa said...

Oh Cheryl, I WISH I had a favorite cookbook. I wish I liked to cook! I love this post because it so resonates.

It is something about me and my life that I am DETERMINED to change. To enjoy cooking, to enjoy eating (healthy foods...ya know, the stuff that actually nourishes me? Hah!)

Any recipes to share??? :)

Mary Jo said...

"Mother doesn't cook. She burns."
John Kenney Toole

KleinsteMotte said...

Mother wouldn't let us cook until dad died . Then she expected to be served. I had some great mentorss, a grandfather, an aunt and the home ec teachers in gr.7 to 10. Loved Julia's book.

Sandy, Sisters of Season said...

Hi Cheryl, I just purchased the Pioneer Woman cookbook. Love the story behind it. My sister-in-law came for dinner two weeks ago and borrow it. I had just bought it and didn't have the heart to tell her. She was so excited to take it home with her. Sort of funny now . . I was like oh no earlier. Go figure. Post some of your recipes if you get a chance. Sandy:O)

Blog Archive