I do nonetheless have the recipe for my mom’s “Casserole Dish” — a concoction of noodles, cheese, mushrooms, onions, olives after which some. “From mom, 1961.”
Casseroles have been a giant factor within the 1950s and early ’60s — simple and cheap, if a bit gloppy. My brother beloved that dish, although Mother didn’t make it that usually. She tried to prepare dinner wholesome meals, or what we then thought was wholesome: roast beef, roast rooster, London broil. She made a fantastic sauce for spaghetti (not pasta, thanks), given to her when she was a newlywed by an Italian-American landlady. Mother by no means wrote down that recipe, and although I do know it included chuck steak and Italian peeled tomatoes, I’ve by no means been capable of reproduce it. A loss, however one which, in a method, heightens my recollections of these particular spaghetti dinners.
Taking a look at these pages, I’m reminded that my cooking focus developed over time, reflecting our nation’s altering tastes. Much less (or no) butter, extra olive oil. Much less meat, extra fish, contemporary salads and al dente greens. West Lake fish soup, a Mark Bittman New York Occasions recipe low on fats and excessive on wholesome elements. Recipes from Oprah Winfrey — for oven-baked “fried” potatoes (coat in egg whites, salt, bake). Salads, turkey loaf as an alternative of meatloaf, low fats, low ldl cholesterol, low sugar.
Marian Burros of The Occasions would run a “dietary evaluation” with lots of her recipes, and I studied them like a scholar prepping for the LSATs. As a substitute of cookies or truffles, I made sugar-free baked apples. I roasted autumn greens sprinkled with salt and drizzled with olive oil. I made easy poached salmon. For a chilly summer time soup, I picked a pile of sorrel that grows like a weed in my Hearth Island backyard.
Hearth Island, the place my future husband and I spent our first summer time collectively, and I cooked with the freshest elements I may develop or discover. Salads. Sautéed Swiss chard and bok choy. Chilled blueberry soup. And blueberry pie, each that includes wild berries.
My pal Sarah and I used to courageous deer ticks and poison ivy to choose these Hearth Island blueberries — tart, winy and now gone, the bushes uprooted to make method for brand new homes. Cultivated blueberries don’t lower it, so I now not make that pie or soup. However I nonetheless have these recipes, to remind me of a particular time in my life.
Which is the purpose, in fact.
I’ve not and by no means will clear out, digitize or in any other case impose order on my recipe information, as a result of every handwritten record of ingredient, every flaking newspaper reducing, is a part of my story. I take a look at a recipe and recollections come flooding again, as they do for a pal who, attempting to declutter, was loath to half with even one in every of her many ramekins. She was not obsessive about ramekins. She was obsessive about the recollections connected to every one.