As long as I can remember, I’ve loved reading recipes. I didn’t cook them often while I was growing up, but I loved reading them. Reading cookbooks was a favorite too. While I was reading a recipe that caught my eye, I would imagine the steps the chef was taking and how the meal would appear; how it smelled and tasted. I guess this was the beginning of my love for food and feeding people. I still have a Chinese food cookbook from the 1940’s that was way out of print when I bought it at a used bookstore. I don’t cook Chinese food at all (I’ve always imagined it to be way too complicated), but I loved reading the recipes.
The funny thing is that I didn’t learn any of this from my parents or grandparents. My Grandmother could make one thing really well – Boston Cream Pie – FROM A BOX. But, I asked for it every birthday. It’s comfort food for me, and I can’t find it anywhere the way she would make it. I always joke that my mother could burn boiling water. Yet, she could bake up an amazing pie crust (which has yet to be replicated-even by my niece who’s an amazing baker) and great rum balls that my parents gave as gifts every holiday season. I still remember sheet trays of them drying on top of the refrigerator.
My father always cooked the Thanksgiving turkey and then made a fabulous Turkey carcass soup with barley, another comfort food memory. He also made a Russian peasant dish with noodle dough and mashed potatoes and onions. This I will try to find a way to duplicate some day. The last time he made it was on my kitchen table more than 20 years ago. I wish I would have written the noodle dough recipe down. I can duplicate the potato/onion/chicken fat mixture for the filling but can’t do the noodle dough! So annoying! He didn’t make the dinners but again, what he made well was amazing.
The first meal I made for entertaining was dinner for my Junior Prom date in High School. I still remember it – marinated Lamb and a savory rice. It wasn’t anything I had ever made before or since but it was a definite hit then! I still have my recipe box from that time with 3×5 index cards filled with recipes that I wanted to cook. My handwriting was SO good back then. If I attempted that now, I wouldn’t be able to read one ingredient!