“Cooking” means different things to different people.
To my girlfriend, Teri (who measures her cream before placing it into her coffee each morning and is pictured, here, enjoying something I made one day), recipes are comforting guidelines to be followed to the letter. Teri reads recipes as valuable documents, carefully crafted maps upon which the traveler shall comfortably drive. This is why Teri loves baking. Measuring. Sifting. Following procedure and order brings rhythm and relaxation into Teri’s time in the kitchen. Predictable outcomes. Ahhh…
To me, recipes are more like, uh, “suggestions.” Recipes are lists of possible ingredients in recommended quantities with an endless array of outcomes. Recipes are rough sketches that need not be followed if the artist is not in the mood. Having to follow a recipe to the letter causes my breathing to become labored. This is why I avoid baking whenever possible. Measuring. Sifting. Being forced to follow procedure and order brings panic into Michelle’s kitchen time. Predictable outcomes. AHHH!!!!
I would like to state that Teri and I have found ways to coexist–even co-create–happily in the kitchen together. Give us our six combined kids, a good bottle ‘a wine and stand back. I would also like to mention that Teri has, thanks to my influence, developed a looser grip on her measuring implements and even occasionally whips things up now with a “pinch of this” and a “spot of that.” It could be the wine though too. No. It’s my influence.
Not surprisingly, Teri makes the best milk chocolate chip cookies in the universe (with an equal number of chips in each one.) Generally someone who likes to share, Teri has locked this recipe in the vault. If you want to try a chocolate chip delight, check out Teri’s new business venture Red Door Sweets. Even if you’re not in the mood for a cookie, this stylish webpage is worth a quick visit just to brighten your day!
Mildred Pocuis (poh-shuhs) was my maternal grandmother. I loved her a whole lot. We used to spend weeks at my grandparents place in St. John’s, Michigan during the summer when I was a kid and my grandparents later came to stay with my family in Minnesota for a month at a time.
Besides running a household with three children before the many modern conveniences that still don’t seem to make my life as convenient as I would like, my grandma was a Home Economics teacher (remember that?) and big time community builder. Before cell phones and social media it was door-to-door greeting and supporting that kept women connected. Millie was great at that.
I have this old cook book, late 1950’s/early 1960’s I’m guessing, from my Grandma’s things. My original posting plan was to pull a little “Julie and Julia” kinda type thing (get it? “Michelle and Millie”) but I gotta admit, there aren’t many recipes in these pages that really reach out and grab me. From the meat “loafs” of every (and I mean every) variety, the obsession with gelatin–including savory salads, sweet desserts and even meat dishes–to the lack of knowledge about the dangers of cholesterol (or even the existence of arteries, apparently…)
No matter. Instead I’m enjoying sifting through a historical analogy of what my grandmother’s life would have been like when she was at the same stage I am today. I’ll bet Millie had a big hand in organizing this cookbook, which was not only a fundraiser for the church where my parents were married and I was baptized, but was also a format for the local amazing women to come together and share. (OK, yes, what they were sharing includes titles like “Lime-cheese-salad” and “Boiled Raisin Cake,” still it’s cool to see how my grandma and her girlfriends were getting dinner to the table!)
I recognize Millie’s friends’ names like Thelma Jenkins and Nola Lumbert (love–insert visual of a heart here–those names) and smile at the many “Mrs. my-husband’s-first-name-and-then-our-last-name.”
Some things have changed. But families still need to eat, and when the people responsible for getting food on the table work together to share ideas for making important tasks lighter, it’s not only uplifting, it’s significant and helpful.
If Mildred Pocuis were raising her three children today, in 2013, I’ll bet she’d start a blog about food, meal preparation tips and how to get kids to eat healthier. What a good idea!