Tag Archive | cooking

Long-Lost Cravings

sliced vegetables in white ceramic bowl

Photo by Silvia Trigo on Pexels.com

Our family room now houses a temporary eating area because we are in the process of getting our kitchen remodeled.  Squished in by our fireplace is our refrigerator and kitchen table.  The microwave and toaster are taking up space at the table with a lot of other things that used to have a special spot to stay, but now have nowhere to go.  Things like scissors and vitamins and such.  My husband bought a two-burner cooktop, but he ended up taking it back to the store because we never took it out of the box.  It seemed like too much work to use, since we have no running water on our main floor. Thankfully, the weather has been nice because a lot of grilling has been going on.  The microwave and grill have been meeting all our cooking needs, so far.

Not having a functioning kitchen has caused me to seriously miss cooking and baking. I haven’t made my favorite recipe of banana bread for years, but suddenly I have a craving for it that will not go away.  Another thing I miss is the usual spaghetti meal we have on our table about once a week.  Luckily we got to have that when we babysat. I’ve never been so thrilled to boil water as I was last weekend when we used our daughter and son-in-law’s kitchen.  I made that simple spaghetti meal, served with fun garlic bread, and a tossed salad.  Now thoughts are coming to me about how much I miss the taste of my mom’s tuna pasta salad.

My mom made tuna pasta salad for us for as long as I can remember. When our kids came along, I made the salad every Sunday, after we got home from church.  It’s one of those family recipes that is not written down anywhere (until now).  Somehow it morphed into my brain from watching my mom make it so many times. Adjustments needed to be made for some of my kids, who don’t like peas, which, ironically, I think is the best part! I like it when the peas hide inside the shell-shaped noodles.  When they fall into place that way, it looks like they were made for each other.  🙂

Here’s how I make it: I boil two to three cups of the small shell-shaped pasta in water, depending on how many hungry people there are to feed.  While that’s cooking, I drain one small can of albacore white tuna and combine it with two or three stalks of chopped celery, a couple of slices of chopped onions, Miracle Whip (with olive oil), a 16-oz. can of drained peas, and a splash of lemon juice.  Sometimes I add a little salt and pepper; other times, I leave it for others to add their own seasonings.  Mom didn’t use the “splash of lemon,” but I think it adds a little flavor.  I can’t tell you how much Miracle Whip I put in.  A person has to “eye ball it” until it gets to a certain consistency of deliciousness.

Until the kitchen is back where it belongs, I will keep my chin up and continue to create a list of things to make. Seems like the list is going to be kind of long because long-lost cravings keep popping up and the tile for the floor is on “back order.”  😦

Do you have a recipe that you had when you were a child that you still enjoy today?

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The Right Amount of Sweetness

Every Saturday when I was a kid, my mom made pies – two pies of the same flavor – to be exact. The kinds of pies Mom made were blueberry, apple, cherry, rhubarb, pumpkin, or lemon meringue. She used the same two glass pie pans. As she rolled out the dough on the wooden board in our kitchen, I watched sometimes, but didn’t quite get the knack of making a crust like Mom made. It was flaky on top and crunchy on the edges. When my fork dug into a piece of Mom’s apple pie, tiny flecks of cinnamon could be seen in the juice of apples that had baked away. Each remaining apple chunk was the same size and each bite melted in my mouth. The rhubarb was just as nice as the cherry and blueberry.

The fruit and pumpkin pies were Mom’s specialty, and then she experimented by making lemon meringue. The lemon was tart and made my mouth water and pucker up underneath my cheekbones. The meringue reminded me of clouds floating up to make mountain peaks, and the taste was just the right amount of sweetness to blend with the lemon and chase the tartness away.

It would be nice to get a taste of any one of those pies today because no store or restaurant can top the flavor of what Mom used to make. I never became good at it myself because it seemed like such a chore. A pie crust needed to be made, and it had to be an even thickness and in a circle to fit a pie pan.  Apples needed to be peeled or pumpkin had to be cooked (yes, she really made it from scratch), and an entire hour would have to pass by before the pie was done baking. Mom would always laugh and tell me it was so easy to make a pie crust! To me, the entire process seemed like so much work and the pre-made crusts at the grocery store weren’t the same.  Plus, what had been created disappeared faster than the effort.

I wonder if I ever really appreciated that labor of love when I was making Mom’s creations disappear. Even if I forgot to thank her for the pies, I bet she knew we loved the treats by how fast we made them vanish.  If I can drum up a little patience, I’ll bake a pie and hopefully it will taste just as good as Mom’s. I just have to remember to use the right amount of sweetness.

I think careful cooking is love, don’t you? The loveliest thing you can cook for someone
who’s close to you is about as nice a Valentine you can give.
~ Julia Child