I do nonetheless have the recipe for my mom’s “Casserole Dish” — a concoction of noodles, cheese, mushrooms, onions, olives after which some. “From mother, 1961.”
Casseroles have been a giant factor within the 1950s and early ’60s — simple and cheap, if a bit gloppy. My brother cherished that dish, although Mom didn’t make it that always. She tried to cook dinner wholesome meals, or what we then thought was wholesome: roast beef, roast hen, London broil. She made an ideal sauce for spaghetti (not pasta, thanks), given to her when she was a newlywed by an Italian-American landlady. Mom 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 in a position to reproduce it. A loss, however one which, in a means, heightens my reminiscences of these particular spaghetti dinners.
Looking at these pages, I’m reminded that my cooking focus advanced over time, reflecting our nation’s altering tastes. Less (or no) butter, extra olive oil. Less meat, extra fish, recent salads and al dente greens. West Lake fish soup, a Mark Bittman New York Times recipe low on fats and excessive on wholesome components. Recipes from Oprah Winfrey — for oven-baked “fried” potatoes (coat in egg whites, salt, bake). Salads, turkey loaf as a substitute of meatloaf, low fats, low ldl cholesterol, low sugar.
Marian Burros of The Times would run a “nutritional analysis” with lots of her recipes, and I studied them like a scholar prepping for the LSATs. Instead 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 Fire Island backyard.
Fire Island, the place my future husband and I spent our first summer time collectively. There, I cooked with the freshest components I may develop or discover. Salads. Sautéed Swiss chard and bok choy. Chilled blueberry soup. And blueberry pie, each that includes wild berries.
My buddy Sarah and I used to courageous deer ticks and poison ivy to choose these Fire Island blueberries — tart, winy and now gone, the bushes uprooted to make means for brand spanking new homes. Cultivated blueberries don’t minimize it, so I not make that pie or soup. But I nonetheless have these recipes, to remind me of a particular time in my life.
Which is the purpose, after all.
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 checklist of ingredient, every flaking newspaper reducing, is a part of my story. I take a look at a recipe and reminiscences come flooding again, as they do for a buddy who, attempting to declutter, was loath to half with even one in all her many ramekins. She was not obsessive about ramekins. She was obsessive about the reminiscences hooked up to every one.