This is the primary work area of my kitchen. It has been getting QUITE a work out lately. Which is awesome. I love to cook and bake. But that isn't exactly what I wanted to talk about today.
I wanted to talk about recipes. Because lately I've been doing a lot of cooking and baking. I guess a lot of us are. And more creative cooking based on either what is already in our pantries or what we can find at the store.
I have quite a few cook books and cooking magazines . And then of course there is also Master Google ever at my finger tips to seek out any recipe I want to find online.
But online does have it's drawbacks. I don't know anyone personally who has ever tried that recipe. It might look good, or read well, but is it really something that we would like? Does the recipe actually come out like they say it will? Are there any tips or hints that would help to process along? Any suggestions or ideas of changes or additions (or subtractions) to the recipe?
See that information you only get from personal recipes. I love getting recipes from people I know. Tried and true stuff. Recipes where I can call or text or email questions to the person who sent it to me. And lately I've been doing a LOT of exchanging recipes with friends and family members.
Oh we've always shared recipes around. But lately, we've upped the level. While skyping with one of my DIL's the other afternoon she asked me for a particular brownie recipe of mine. I said I would trade it for her pizza dough recipe. We both laughed and then we both wrote up and emailed each other the requested recipes. The brownie in question and oh yeah, it was good:
A very long time ago when I used to make bread regularly, a friend of mine requested one of my bread recipes. Part way through her execution of the recipe she called in a panic and I talked her through the rest of the way on the phone. She had never made bread before and had no experience to work from. Ultimately, it was a success and I was delighted to be a part of it...via phone call.
I requested the caramel corn recipe that my friend Marsha makes. It is, quite simply, the best I have ever EVER had. So she, very kindly, snapped a photo of the recipe card and texted it to me. As I read the recipe over and over, it didn't seem complete. It didn't make sense to me. So I called her. She was surprised but looked at the card and then realized that the recipe was front AND back of the card. We laughed like lunatics for a long time on that one. She had made the recipe for so many years that she actually didn't look at the actual card for it anymore, she just knocked it out. The way I do with biscuits or pie crust or chili!
I always say yes, when people ask for my recipes. I consider it a compliment. But some are hard to reconstruct because they have never been written down. I have to really think about it. How do I do that? How much do I add? It's about how it looks or smells or feels.
My sister was telling me not long ago that she was having a bad baking day (we all have them!) and she could tell as she was mixing it that it wasn't going to turn out right. Yuppers. That has happened to even the best cooks and bakers (and she is pretty darned good let me tell ya!) But see, that's how experienced a baker she is. She knew from the way it felt while she was mixing it that it wasn't going to be one of her best efforts.
It happened to me recently as well. I was making - or at least trying to make - buttermilk coffee cake muffins. Don't those just sound amazing? Well, usually, they are. This time they were terrible. I didn't even taste them. I could tell just by looking at them that they were awful. They went right down the disposer. From baking pan to disposer. Very efficient. It happens. I regret the product wasted but hey, what you gonna do.
Even my Nana, the best baker I have EVER known, occasionally would mess up a batch of something. We would hear her in the kitchen humming along, everything is fine and then suddenly she would say, 'Oh Sugar!" which is about the worst word she ever said and that would be followed by the scraping noise of something being tossed. It didn't happen often, but it happened.
A goodly portion of recipes in my baking binder are from my Nana. Gingerbread Grace Grey for example. It's a gingerbread cake that is well, it's amazing. Even people who have never tried Gingerbread cake before are addicted from the first bite. I have no idea who Grace Grey is but that is what that recipe has always been called. On the rare occasion that I make donuts, it's Nana's recipe that I use. Molasses cookies are all her too, as are Lily cookies, gingersnaps and blueberry cake. Nana was, as I said, an amazing baker. But a terrible cook. So none of my savory recipes are from her. And that's just fine too. I have other resources.
I have collected recipes from friends, my amazing daughters-in-law, from magazines, online and other things I just made up myself and wrote down so that I wouldn't forget how I did it. (I'm not getting any younger y 'know). Sometimes I will read multiple different recipes and kind of blend them.
The first time I ever made gumbo that's what happened. I had a package of andouille sausage and some leftover chicken and I was hmmmming about what to make with it. Gumbo came to mind even though I'd never made it befor. Tim and I do love New Orleans so it kind of follows. I read about the making of gumbo in several different cookbooks, looked up multiple recipes online and then got really smart and googled, "Tips for making gumbo". That was probably the most important step. It explained about the making of the roux in much greater detail than any recipe that I read. Ultimately I took part of each of those and turned out something that Tim absolutely LOVED!
If I knew someone personally who had a great gumbo recipe I would have had a personal resource to talk me through and answer questions and it wouldn't have taken half a day or research to get started. It worked out. But I would have loved to have had a recipe with a personal touch, someone's name attached. The Gingerbread Grace Grey of Gumbo so to speak.
I have probably typed up and emailed out more recipes in this past month of quarantine than any other time in my life. I have probably also requested copies of more recipes from other people. It's a great kind of connection to people we love that we cannot be near right now. I cannot hug you, but I can share my recipe with you. Which is another way of saying I love you.
So here we go...
To all of my family and friends out there and even absolute strangers who I have never met but read this blog, here is my challenge to you:
Send me one of your favourite recipes and I will send you one of mine in return. If this is a success we will each add one awesome recipe to each other's files. And if this is the success I hope it is, when it's over, I will create a new recipe book that I will share with all of you.
Showing how much we support and care for each other through a recipe share. Any sort of recipes. I will have to think of a title. Recipes During Quarantine. Caring through Sharing. Something along those lines.
Food is love people, food is love.
Yup, this is me. Some people said, "Sam, you should write a Blog". "Well, there's a thought", I thought to myself. And so here it is.