Kaylee (my oldest daughter): I need the recipe for your potato salad.
Me: There isn’t one.
Kaylee: (exasperated sigh) Well, what’s in it?
Me: Potatoes, hard-boiled eggs…
Kaylee: How many eggs?
Me: Depends on how many potatoes you use – I do about eight eggs for about 5 lbs of potatoes. Raw onion…
Kaylee: How many onions?
Me: If you have a lot of potatoes, use a big one…fewer potatoes, a small one. Mayo…
Kaylee: (another sigh) How much mayo?
Me: A gob.
Kaylee: A GOB?
Me: Put in enough that it looks creamy. Salt, mustard, relish, and a squirt of vinegar – again, use your own judgement. That’s it.
We had basically the same conversation about my spaghetti sauce recipe, although I ended up writing down the basic ingredients: hamburger, onions, celery, fresh mushrooms, tomato sauce, tomato paste, canned tomatoes, sugar, salt, pepper, chili powder, sage, parsley, thyme, rosemary, basil, oregano, and Italian seasoning.
Lasagna was fairly easy to explain: layer noodles with above spaghetti sauce, cottage cheese, cheddar cheese and mozzarella.
I’ve been cooking since I was ten – it’s amazing (and sad) to me that many kids my daughter’s age (almost 24) have very little idea how to feed themselves, unless the food comes out of a box, ie. Kraft dinner, frozen pizza, etc. This child is feeding my baby granddaughter! I want her to know how to cook basic foods (to be fair, her boyfriend, Scott, does a lot of the cooking at their house).
One concept the kids seem to have trouble with is the fact that, unlike baking, cooking is rarely an exact science. You can use less or more of something (within reason) such as spices without ruining the recipe (or leave it out all together!). You don’t have to have a certain amount of water to cook pasta (unless it’s rice) and you can put as much or as little sauce on it as you want! Even if it says to leave it in the oven for 20 minutes, if it’s done after 18 minutes, take it out!
It is flattering that in this day of the Internet, the first thing Kaylee does when she wants to know how to make something is call good old Mom! Scott always says, “You can look it up online,” but Kaylee replies, “I want my mom’s recipe!”
It will probably be a while before Kaylee asks for the stuffing recipe – she and Scott have two moms and a stepmom cooking holiday dinners for them…but just in case, here it is: bread cubes, onions, celery, eggs, large chicken bouillion cube (crushed), salt, pepper, cinnamon, parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme.
I’m thinking of getting Kaylee “The Joy of Cooking” for Christmas…I’m going to work on getting the four kids still living at home better trained!