Hey Kay – we had that recipe box in the kitchen, too, growing up. I hope my sister has it, or maybe it’s in with the cookbooks my father packed up last year during moving season. The layers of recipes snipped from papers and packages my mother had taped inside the kitchen cabinets – vertical collages that stood in for a box later on – must have been hard to take down.
That’s my recipe binder up there, filled with sheet protectors that hold everything from pages photocopied from Gourmet in 1999 (Did I do that? Can’t remember. And if it was me, what was I thinking, Gourmet? – I had three kids under 5), to the (urban) legendary Neiman-Marcus cookie recipe (“It cost me a lot! You can have it for free! This is a TRUE STORY!”), to bits and pieces pulled from the pages of Southern Living and the Washington Post. The only ones I really use are right up front, five or six at the most.
There are only a few handwritten recipes, way farther back, and just one from my mother, jotted down on a scrap of paper:
1 cup milk
1 cup choc chips (6 oz pkg)
1 tsp vanilla or almond
Pour milk into sauce pan & bring just to boil – Combine rest of ingred. in Blender jar – add hot milk Blend on Lo – 1 min 6 custard cups
That was it – nothing about actually cooking it, but I figured I could track down the rest of the recipe in one of the old standards. And it was there, more or less, in the red plaid Better Homes and Gardens New Cook Book, as Chocolate Pots de Crème, in a version where the eggs do get to cook a bit in the saucepan. (It also instructs you to let the filled custard cups chill until firm, several hours or overnight.) The time in the blender with the hot milk must cook the eggs just enough in my mother’s version, certainly back when we all ate cookie dough without the spectre of salmonella hanging over raw eggs. She’d always serve this with a star-shaped squirt of Reddi-Whip right in the center, and I’d almost swear that the crème de menthe (which lurked in the refrigerator door among the salad dressings and the saved take-out soy sauce packets) sometimes stood in for the vanilla extract.
I’m not particularly sentimental, but it made me smile to see her handwriting, my mother, who died almost seven years ago (that long? really?) when I wasn’t really looking for it. Thanks.
Nine turned 10 yesterday. That makes two out of three into double digit ages now. And it meant baking: a batch of brownies for her classmates, and a cake for home. The request: carrot cake, buttercream instead of cream cheese icing, and lightly blogged.
Let me tell you, after my first attempt to blog a major baking project, I’ve got a new respect for those of you who make it all look so lovely. Among the photos that won’t be seeing the light of day: mounds of freshly grated carrot; four photogenic golden-yolked eggs; and a night vision shot into the oven.
Books, I can do.
(Ten picked the recipe from the red-plaid Better Homes and Gardens).
For the cake, let’s just stick with Before:
Oh, and look what’s back:
That might just call for a cup of tea and a slice of cake.
What’s not simple: Insurance. Mortgages. Stuff: owning it; moving it. Needing (and wanting: the line’s blurry) to be in two or three places at once.
Two books on my mind: Michael Pollan's The Omnivore’s Dilemma and Elizabeth Royte's Garbage Land. The real cost of where things (not merely food) come from, and the true cost of making them go away.
The irony of speaking three times this month on “Simplifying Christmas” during a most un-simple time in my life. (And yes, Steve, thanks for asking; I’ll put something up here; keep your eyes on the sidebar.)
Malva sylvestris. Self-seeded, and in a cozy spot not far from the house’s foundation and sheltered by a butterfly bush, unconcerned that frosts and cold have done in almost every other trace of the summer and autumn garden.
Camellia sasanqua. The first flowers of the winter garden. I don’t think there’s a day here when something isn’t in bloom.
My affection for my new boots. Walking through November puddles and piles of raked leaves.
The foot of a top down sock – when you’re past the heel and before you start the toe. Good knitting.
Laundry. Sure, you have to do it all over again before you know it. But for that brief time when it’s all done, it’s done.
These pumpkin muffins. They’re fine with raisins; they’re fine without. Dried cranberries, crystallized ginger: yum. And some days need tiny chocolate chips.
Pumpkin Muffins (Hot Cakes, Charlottesville VA)
3 large eggs
1 cup vegetable oil
2 cups canned pumpkin puree (= a 15 oz can)
1 cup (total) add-ins (optional) (suggestions: raisins, nuts, crystallized ginger, dried cranberries, chocolate chips)
Combine all ingredients in the first group. Sift together the dry ingredients in the second group. Mix wet ingredients into dry ingredients. Bake in greased mold or muffin tins lined with papers. Bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until the muffins spring back when touched lightly.
Makes 2 dozen large muffins, or about 5 dozen mini muffins.