tidings of joy

December 18th, 2016

When I was a junior in college, Mother decided to compile a book of recipes featuring family favorites. It took her nearly a year, typing it out on a typewriter at the kitchen table. She heartily welcomed suggestions from her devoted eaters, and when it was finished, she xeroxed four copies and assembled them into loose leaf notebooks. There are only four copies, one for each of her children.

I have a cookbook collection of more than 500 books, but the only one I ever reference is the one Mother wrote. Sometimes I’m in the mood for a taste of the past and nothing delivers that as divinely as something Mother once made. My copy, unfortunately, is rarely in the same location as I am and I have to contact a sibling for an occasional memory jog.

My Christmas in Russia in 2000 was a memorable one. I prepared a four course feast for my landlady and her family, featuring Mother’s Seafood Gumbo. Of course I didn’t have the family recipe book with me, and spent a small fortune telephoning my younger brother’s wife in Virginia to get the recipe. The required seafood wasn’t available, so I used smoked duck, and my dear guests seemed to enjoy this foreign taste from Cajun Country.

This Christmas, I decided to make a treat for the folks I work with, and choose a ginger cookie from Mother’s Recipe Book, which of course is not with me here in Illinois. My sister came to the rescue with the recipe and two days of baking yielded 120 perfect little cookies; bagged, tagged and beribboned.

Thank-you, Mom!

Stratford Hall Ginger Cookies

Stratford Hall Ginger Cookies

Related Recipes

chicago throwdown

April 24th, 2016

Relocating to the Chicago area on New Year’s Eve was neither welcome nor fun, but the job that was its impetus had potential. There are no oceans, no mountains, and no mature trees. It’s a flat parking lot with gale force winds that keep debris airborne. The food markets, however, are outstanding and easily surpass anything in California, New York, North Carolina, and Europe.

The folks I work with are talented, collaborative and hospitable. Another rarity! Thus, I couldn’t remain grumpy for long with superior food and people in the midst. There’s a large population of gourmands at work and many meetings either begin or end with some reference to recipes. My cohort, Marcelo, and I were chatting about Italian smoked meats one morning in the office galley and within no time we’d agreed to do a cooking throwdown.

Marcelo chose Chicken Enchiladas Suizas as the competitive dish, something I’d neither eaten nor cooked. Fine by me! There were dozens of details to iron out and it was decided that our software teams would be the eaters and the judges. The Enchilada entree was rounded out with Guacamole, Salsa, Tortilla Chips, Ensalada Verde with Cilantro Lime Vinaigrette, Puerto Rican Rice and Beans, and Mexican Wedding Cookies, all of which needed to be transported to work, baked off and/or assembled prior to serving 18 hungry guests.

Debbie and Charles helped to set and decorate the long table. The Enchiladas came straight from the cafeteria oven, piping hot, and got their final garnishes. The guests arrived promptly and were served with remarkable speed. Silence prevailed as people began eating and it seemed to be an appreciative silence. All of the plates were clean 20 minutes later, which suggest proper table manners or tasty-tasty food or both! The ballots were tallied, and Marcelo was the winner by a wide margin. A loss for me that I couldn’t have enjoyed more!

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

Chicken Enchiladas Suizas

Related Recipes

Copyright © Katherine Stetson, all rights reserved.