8. Lost Recipes
Meals To Share With Friends and Family
by Marion Cunningham
second book for the Foodie's Reading Challenge
I thank my friend, Les for this great cookbook. She knows how much home cooking means to me. This is my second book for the Foodie's Reading Challenge.
Marion Cunningham is concerned about how little cooking goes on in our own kitchens anymore. This book was published in 2003 and in the eight years since, things have only gotten worse. In her introduction, she writes:
Why are fewer people cooking at home? There are, of course, a multitude of reasons - with pressures of time and of conflicting schedules, football practice and PTA meetings, all usurping the dinner hour. But there is one reason that is paramount, I think: Home cooking in America has long been considered menial drudgery. ...I've never understood why mixes are used. It is so, so easy to whip up some flour and eggs and sugar and butter to make brownies or cookies or cake. But oftentimes a child grows up and cooks as he or she saw in the childhood kitchen. The unfortunate thing to me is that there is a whole generation (or maybe two) who have grown up with those 'boxes, cans. and bags' of food. The eating revolution which I wrote about has mostly passed away. A few years ago I was in a homemaking yahoo discussion group, and I remember a woman saying that her son's friend had never had a homemade pie. He was amazed at how wonderful her pie tasted. That in itself is sad, but what is even sadder to me, is that there are lots of people who've never tasted anything homemade, and the muffin they know is from a quick-stop store. And I fear they wouldn't even care for a homemade one because their taste buds tell them this isn't how a muffin should taste. It breaks my heart. Even my own children who were brought up with everything from scratch, use mixes and shortcuts in their own households. I'm so thrilled when I come upon a young person who is into home cooking. There are many bloggers out there who are doing this and sharing their pleasure in real food.
It was easy, then, for big commercial food companies to sell their goods with the promise that their boxes, cans, and bags of food could be ready to eat in minutes. Later, microwave ovens promised even quicker results, with little or no cleanup necessary.
There's been almost no counterargument. We home cooks have never gathered in force to speak out in defense of home cooking. So the image of cookery as drudgery lives on. ...
So this book is addressed to all of you who are tempted to give home cooking a second chance. The recipes I have gathered here were lost primarily because people were no longer cooking in the same kind of home rhythm. But I hope to lure you back into the kitchen with them. Maybe these dishes will bring back the past, providing for some of you a little nostalgia and for others an introduction to good, clean, pure flavors that you never get in take-out food.
Marion Cunningham presents recipes that are easy to understand and follow. There are interesting quotes and old pictures interspersed throughout the book.
Cooking something delicious is really more satisfactory than painting pictures or making pottery. At least for most of us. Food has the tact to disappear, leaving room and opportunity for masterpieces to come. The mistakes don't hang on the walls or stand on shelves to reproach you forever. It follows from this that the kitchen should be thought of as the center of the house. It needs above all space for talking, playing, bringing up children, sewing, having a meal, reading, sitting, and thinking. ... It's in this kind of place that good food has flourished. It's from this secure retreat that the exploration of man's curious relationship with food, beyond the point of nourishment, can start.If you read house design sorts of magazines, you'll see that kitchens are getting bigger and more extravagant, but regretfully I don't think much cooking goes on in them. I have a friend whose relative has a kitchen practically bigger than my house and the owner never cooks. I think of Julia Child in that tiny, inconvenient kitchen in France and all the wonders that came from it.
Jane Grigson, Good Things
I've noted several recipes I want to make from this cookbook. The one I'll share this day is a delicious dessert. First I'll write out the author's words, and then add my notes.
Children's Chocolate-Chip Squares
Encourage children to learn to cook and bake when they're young. This is a simple recipe they'll love.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 cup chopped nuts
2 cups (12 ounces) semi-sweet chocolate morsels
Preheat oven to 350º F.
Grease and lightly flour an 8-inch square pan.
Toss together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar.
Add the vegetable oil and eggs, and beat until thoroughly combined (the mixture will be stiff).
Stir in the nuts and chocolate morsels.
Scrape the dough into the prepared pan and use your moistened fingertips to smooth the top and spread it evenly.
Bake for about 30 minutes, or until the top is golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a residue of chocolate on it.
Remove from the oven and let cool in the pan on a rack, then cut into 2-inch squares.
Of course, I used melted butter rather than oil!
I mixed together the flour, powder, and salt in a bowl.
I beat the eggs in the Kitchen Aid mixer and then added the sugar.
I turned the speed down and slowly added the flour mixture and the (cooled) melted butter.
Then I added the nuts and chips.
I didn't smooth down the top.
This would be a wonderful cookie bar to make with children. It is easy as can be, and I think they would especially enjoy the smoothing the top part.