Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I Can Be A Scaredy Cat in the Kitchen

If all one ever had to do was prepare raw vegetables, life in the kitchen would be so simple. My granddaughter Claire loves to try out big chunks of carrot on her four new teeth, two up and two down. She also enjoys grapes, blueberries, sweet potato, squash and chicken cut up into small pieces. She loves nearly everything her mother feeds her, she has a great appetite.

As I was preparing supper the other night for my husband and myself, I thought of how scared I used to be to make meals for company. I wasn't a child who followed my mother into the kitchen when she was making meals to see how it was done. I was more apt to be across the road from our house on the ball diamond playing a good game of baseball. As I grew older and started highschool I was still a big fan of playing or watching baseball. As each new school year came along so did more and more homework, so I'd often still be sitting at the dining-room table until eleven p.m. hitting the books. My interest in food was still what appeared lovingly prepared by my mother.

After I was married when visiting my new mother-in-law, I did start to show an interest in watching and learning what different foods she would prepare. I finally realized I needed to expand my knowledge in the kitchen. How to prepare good and varied meals so learning from my husbands mother seemed a good place to start.

My own mother made great filling meals, not fancy, not gourmet but we loved what she put before us. She also made wonderful desserts, again what most mother's made back then, apple, cherry, chocolate or butterscotch pies, chocolate cakes and various kinds of cookies..none of which lasted long. She made a wonderful elderberry pie because my father would drive out into the country and pick bushel baskets of them. We would all sit out on the back porch, pulling the little purple berries off the stems ending up with stained fingers. Well worth the effort.

So I learned plain cooking, how to cook a roast (usually too well done), make casseroles, roast chickens and turkeys and make a hundred different meals out of hamburger, or so it seemed. I asked my mother for recipes and started acquiring cooks books finding my favorites were put out by ladies from various area churches. They would make cookbooks for fund raisers so their recipes were tried and true. My church cookbooks are now stained many times over from much usage.

Growing up in a family of seven mother did not entertain overmuch. Feeding five hungry kids kept my mother busy without extra mouths lined up around our table. Usually company was our grandmother or the siblings of my parents. So when it came to entertaining I was not at ease, usually my company would be very close friends or my brothers and sisters.

To say I panic when confronted with people I don't know well would be very true. My son used to bring friends home from college, and friends from other countries. He had many Kurdish friends and I'd ask him: "What do they eat?" I have struggled for years trying new recipes to impress company instead of the same old ones.

I'd hate to tell you how long it took me to make quiche and surprised it was so easy. To shamefully say I still can't make a pan of fudge. Just this week I tried my first Tourtiere pie. It turned out pretty good but still needs work. I'm not good at experimenting with recipes, usually read them and stick to it. But my husband is slowly winning me over to taking chances and mix things up..

I keep cutting recipes out of magazines or buy the odd new recipe book but I find I keep going back to those same old recipes that have served me so well. It's hard for me to "be brave" and go out to buy a lot of new ingredients that I can hardly pronounce, to make some fantastic new dish.

My sister-in-law in P.E.I. where we are retiring in three or four more years is a terrific cook. She often plans big dinner parties as she loves entertaining, the more the merrier. I watch her a lot when we visit  and wish cooking came so easily to me. We always put on four or five pounds after a two or three week visit. Once I'm living out there I will follow many of her recipes, we will eat with them and then we will have them over to our place..Oh, my gosh, what will I cook them? How will I impress them when she is such an awesome cook?

I  guess I will just relax and tell my husband to fire up the b.b.q.  He is great cooking meals on the b.b.q., plus he really enjoys it. My in-laws don't tend to b.b.q. very often so it will be a real treat for them to have hubby's famous burgers or beer-butt chicken. Problem solved!


  1. Lannie, I love those church cookbooks too, they have the best recipes! As you say, tried and true from many years of experience. I bought one from the PEI hospice society last year and it's easily my favourite book. Another favourite places to find recipes is allrecipes.com. It's everyday people contributing their personal recipes to an online database. You can search by ingredient, contributors name, recipe name, etc. You can also rate recipes so picking ones with a high rating usually means it's pretty good. Really easy to use website and again, some of those tried and true recipes that go back generations. My hubby is a fussy eater so recipes that aren't too fancy work best for us and this website has really helped to find a recipe in a pinch.

  2. Yes we loved whatever mother put in front of us 'cause we'd starve otherwise!! Or make an omelette - there were always eggs around thank goodness! I can remember making and omelette many times when I didn't like what was being served (usually when it was liver and onions!)
    PS - I've always thought you were one of the better cooks in the family but Michael could give you a run for your money!