Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Cook's Secrets Revealed

I blew up the eggs and the odor lingered throughout the house all day no matter how much deodorizer I sprayed. I couldn’t hide this cooking error! My family calls this the trials of living with a writer.

I put six eggs on to boil and sat down at the computer to write. I forgot to set the timer, so the next I was aware…the odor of sulphur enveloped the kitchen and wafted toward the office where I was working.

So…don’t think I’m the perfect cook. My family will tell you otherwise. When I’m busy with a writing project, my husband knows he may need to cook our meal if he wants it to perfection.

(Does he think I do this on purpose so he will cook the meals? Incidentally he’s a great chef.)

Another Cooking Secret

Let your children cook when they express a desire to mess with ingredients in a mixing bowl. It’s worth the patience to have them “help” when they’re young. They may do much of the cooking for you when they’re older.

I was a news reporter when my daughter was a teen, so my schedule often was erratic as I covered stories throughout the area. Beth often called me after school and discussed the supper menu. It was great to come home and find the meal ready. Since then she has become a very good cook.

What fun when a family cooks together and shares the meal preparation tasks. Each may develop their specialty and add it to the menu.

Desire for Simpler Meals

I find, as I grow older, I have less desire to cook complicated and time consuming recipes. Perhaps it’s because I like eating simpler foods. Do our tastes change from one stage of life to another.

I think back to some of the foods we prepared on the farm when I was growing up. And I recall how my mother-in-law talked more about the foods of her youth as she advanced in years.

This, too, is a way we can carry on the family food heritage by preparing some of these for our family and copying them down in cookbooks.

PRETZEL SALAD is a dish Beth makes that I enjoy. Although it’s called a salad, you actually can use it as a dessert. You make it in layers.

1st layer – Mix together 2 cups crushed unsalted pretzels, 4 tablespoons , ¾ cup melted butter or margarine. Spread in a 9 x 13-inch pan at 400 degrees F. for 6 minutes. Cool.

2nd layer – Mix together 8 oz. cream cheese, ½ cup sugar, and 8 oz. whipped topping. Spread over cooled crust. (You can use lower fat cream cheese and lite whipped topping, and you can cut back the sugar somewhat if you’d like it less sweet.)

3rd layer – Dissolve 6 oz. package strawberry gelatin in 2 cups boiling water. Stir in 10-oz. package frozen strawberries. Chill until almost congealed. Spread on top of cheese mixture. Continue chilling until set. Cut into squares.

This Pretzel Crust makes a nice base for other desserts or jelled salads.

©2008 Mary Emma Allen

(I write from my multigenerational home in NH. Visit my other blogs at , ,,, http://)