The cook was a good cook, as cooks go; and as good cooks go, she went.
-H.H. Munro (Saki) 1904
At 22 years old, I knew how to make Frito pie and a few chicken recipes that mostly called for cream of mushroom soup. The late 1970’s were not a time for trendy fare, and the cookbooks of the day aimed for simplicity. I guess all those newly hatched women’s libbers needed easy recipes to make after a long day at the office. Crock pots were the thing back then. Throw everything in it in the morning and voilà! Dinner was ready when you came home. The recipes all had names such as “Yummy Chicken and Vegetables” or “Fish Cooked in Dishwasher” (I am not making this up).
I received two cookbooks before I married in 1979. One was the venerable “Joy of Cooking” which had everything from A to Z, including field dressing squirrels, if I ever got desperate enough. The other one was called “Cooking for Two”, and it had scaled down recipes that served two people, as you might guess by its title. I also had a subscription to “Good Housekeeping” (still do!) and took the newspaper, which had a weekly food section. Other than that, I didn’t have much exposure to the latest trends and fads in cooking, such as ethnic cuisine dishes and the like.
My mom could whip up a mean casserole for us 6 kids, and she did actually introduce us to unusual fare such as artichokes and plantains at a young age. I loved the former, hated the latter. I even learned to like beets, lima beans and Brussels sprouts when most kids I knew wouldn’t touch them. Still, I have never been a “foodie” and I guess I never will be. If I only had myself to feed, I’d probably eat the same thing every day.
So it was with a bit of amusement that I opened my birthday present from daughter Shannon earlier this year to find a new cookbook called (guess what), “Cooking for Two”. It wasn’t the same version I’d had earlier. This one has recipes for things such as “Southwestern Moo Shu Chicken Wraps” and “Tabbouleh with Shrimp, Feta and Dill”. I hope Shannon isn’t too disappointed that I haven’t tried those two yet.
Recently I mentioned to her that I was running out of ideas for her father’s low carb diet fare; it seems like lately we’ve been having the same things over and over again. And so she sent me some recipes via e-mail, including “Baked Aubergines with Cheese” and “Sea Bass with Creamy Leeks and Soy Jus”.
Where did this child come from? Her great grandmothers would have been awed at her expertise and knack in the kitchen at such a young age, although they probably had never cooked with leeks in their entire lives (true confession… me neither). They were more of the old southern school of cooking where you either fried everything until done, or boiled everything until likewise done.
But what they have in common is that both Shannon and her great grandmothers all tweaked, experimented, tried new variations and used what was in the fridge. I’m afraid that the gene pool skipped my generation in this regard (except I have been known to use what is in the fridge when push comes to shove).
With all the Food Network shows on tv, the vast recipe resources from the internet plus a boyfriend who was raised vegetarian, Shannon knows more about cooking creatively than I ever did or ever will. Someday I imagine she will laugh at the fact that her childhood diet consisted of a lot of chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese.
I wonder what my grandkids will eat? Will they come to my house and turn up their cute little noses at Spaghettios? Maybe I’d better go buy an aubergine and get with the program while they’re still yet a twinkle in her eye!
(btw, an aubergine is an eggplant… I don’t think I like them, but maybe there’s still hope for me yet!)