Saturday, October 16, 2010

Recipe Books Do Not Instantly Make Good Cooks

If you look in my collection of cookbooks, which I share with my mother, you will find stains and splashes on all the good recipes. Those are the pages that have been used so many hundreds of times that we don't even need to look at them anymore, unless we need to double check an ingredient or cooking time.  
In addition to the smears of love, you will find our family secrets. No single recipe ever gets made exactly as it is written. We have additions or omissions. We have notes about who liked or hated each dish.

Each time we try something new or a new variation, it gets written down and dated.  

I absolutely love this!

My darling mother has provided me with an excuse to NOT make the same mistakes she has.  The foresight to NOT make a recipe that was a real dud and the secrets to improving a meal that was 'almost' good.  I know she is a great cook, but now I also know that she went through the same processes that I am going through now. 
Trial and error, over and over.  
This wonderful gift of information that we share should be my saving grace, it should give me a head start on this learning curve. But it doesn't always work this way.

One favorite meal, a super easy casserole dish, exists in several of our Company's Coming cookbooks.  It's Shipwreck.  Simple ingredients, easy prep, delicious dinner.  Mom has made this many times, I have made it many times.
(of course with me there is always a "BUT")
I can't raise this ship to save my life.  It always tastes good, the flavour is right.  BUT every single time I make it, I forget one ingredient.  
Not even the same ingredient!  
Each time I make it, I take everything out of the fridge or pantry first.  I spread out everything I need and double check the list to be sure I have it all.  And still, somehow, I miss something.  It's a layered dish, potatoes, onions, meat, celery, rice, etc...  I miss a layer every time.  Whether the rice or a veggie, something is always missing.  
This shipwreck, for me, is eternally beyond salvageable.

The only positive experience I can draw from continually making this meal is that I never forget the meat (beef) and the potatoes.  

I guess that's why my trucker likes it. That's the only part he cares about anyway.

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