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Rediscovering the Joy of Food

Monday, June 18, 2012

You know the old saying. Food is the way to a man's heart. While originating in a very different era, perhaps a modern interpretation would be "Food is the way to a lover's heart" because it goes both ways. I love that my husband likes to cook, too.

When I moved to Seattle financially broke and obese, I had to do a lot of cleaning house mentally and physically. My life had just fallen apart, and I needed to rebuild myself.

One of the things I determined to do to get my life under control was learn to cook. Even though I didn't have a lot of money, I bought myself a nice set of cookware. I learned to cook from watching Food Network and the internet. Being unpracticed, I made a lot of mistakes and a few bad dishes. But I got better over time.

By the time I met my future husband, I was comfortable in a kitchen. He is a pretty good cook. Even though he nearly set his oven on fire the first time he cooked for me. He was making a prosciutto wrapped chicken breast. We got to talking, and I guess he left it under the broiler just a little too long. The stove started smoking, there was a small flame, and he opened up all the windows and doors to air out his apartment. The funny thing is, it turned out just fine. The prosciutto was a little bit crispy like crisp bacon. It was delicious. If I hadn't seen the frantic window opening, I would have thought he'd intended to flambe it. I couldn't stop laughing.

Living in Seattle, we had access to some of the best world class food, so we dined out regularly. But we also enjoyed making meals at home for each other.

I sometimes wonder if our love would have blossomed the same without the experience of sharing good food.

My health has improved leaps and bounds after learning to make my meals. While I still eat low carb, what breads and desserts I do eat comes from my own kitchen for the most part. The result is I've been able to maintain my weight far easier than I ever thought possible. I don't know if it's because my body manages the whole ingredients better, or if it's more satisfying so I eat less. Maybe a combination of both.

The only time I gain weight is when I eat meals at fast food and poor quality restaurants. Since I've learned to cook at home, my palate has refined to the point where I can taste the individual spices and flavors. In fast food, I can taste predominately three things: poor quality vegetable oil, salt, and sugar. I was dismayed when I recently learned that Chik-fil-a uses MSG in their 'secret' seasoning.

My German-American 1930's depression era grandmother made the most incredible pecan pie I can remember. She would make the pie from pecans in her backyard. Sadly, her recipe died with her. I didn't have an interest in cooking at the time she was alive to ask her for the recipe, and I was too young to recall it from memory. Her children were all boys who weren't going to do 'women's work' cooking. Her grandchildren abandoned recipes and stoves in favor of packaged cartons of microwaved meals. The pecan pie is gone forever, along with who knows how many other recipes made with real ingredients.

It's a shame that I learned the lesson too late to save it.
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    I empathize with you about your grandmother's pie; I truly do. Yesterday was the anniversary of my grandmother's passing, and my family couldn't stop talking about the amazing dishes she used to make. We realized that NO ONE had ever gotten her cinnamon roll recipe! This was something she made for every single get together, birthday breakfasts, or just to say she was thinking of you. When my first real boyfriend dumped me, we ate cinnamon rolls and trashed men. The morning of my wedding, she made a batch- just for ME.

    It kills me that I'll never have them again.
    1921 days ago
    Wonderful way to eat better, learning to cook....and now you have me thinking about pecan pie!
    1922 days ago
    That is wonderful to be able to share the enjoyment of cooking together. Too many times over-portioned blah tasting foods are replacing the flavorfulness of a home cooked meal. My hubby grilled some steaks this weekend, half were a new recipe, and the other half was the salt, garlic, onion... and the very basic one just tasted soooo good.
    My husband burnt himself the first time he was making dinner for me... I took him to the ER, and then we had dinner out.
    1923 days ago
    I hope you're right, Karen! But it will be a long time if I ever figure out...I don't want to make too many pies!! LOL
    1923 days ago
    Oh, you'll know it. Taste bud memory never goes away. When I went to Italy several years ago, I ate the most wonderful gelato. Every town or city I visited, I hit the local gelato shop.

    Well, when I got back home, I figured I'd be able to find good gelato in the North End. That's an area of Boston famous for it's Italian restaurants and bakeries. Thought I could find a good gelato there. It was good, BUT it was not the same as the stuff I had in Italy. Tried different places. yummy, but not quite the same yummy sensation I had in Italy.

    Fast forward a few years. I'm in Las Vegas for work. On my free time, I walk around the different hotels and end up in the Venetian. In the center of the Venetian is a recreation of St Marks Square. There was a gelato stand. So, I ordered a spumoni. that's a gelato with three different flavors. Took a taste. OMG, that was it !! THAT was the taste sensation I had when I was in Italy !!! If I didn't know better I'd swear the guy who made my gelato in Rome was the guy who made it at the Venetian hotel in Vegas.

    So, yes, when you find the right recipe, you will remember. Bells are going to go off. Read my blog on my trip to Amsterdam. I had a similar taste sensation from my youth while there.

    1923 days ago
    I could look up recipes, but the thing is, even if she used a recipe from a cookbook, I'll never really know if it is the same one she used. It was so long ago since I had it, I couldn't remember why it was so good. I just remember it tasted of pecans and was caramel-like. Sweet and nutty. Pecan pies that I try in restaurants are sickeningly sweet, and I don't like them. I don't remember hers being like that at all. So I could try different recipes from the era, maybe find one that I like, but...I'll never really know.
    1923 days ago
    Excellent idea from Archimedes!
    I admire your dedication to cooking and the shared time in the kitchen. Both are goals I have and struggle with. Thanks for a heartwarming and educational post!

    Mary in Boston
    1923 days ago
    I second what Archimedes said... the women in my family put together a family heirloom cookbook, and at the time my grandma was still alive. A LOT of her recipes that we thought were top-secret, only-she-can-do-it recipes were actually from the Better Homes and Gardens cookbook from the time. Try it - it can't hurt! And yes, that's true about the crust and Crisco...!! LOL!
    1924 days ago
    There are so many recipes I make regularly, attempting to make them like my granny did. Some (cornbread! and biscuits!) I can do, but others (fried squash) I'm way off. I love that it's a sort of lifetime challenge - I'll keep on trying forever.
    1924 days ago
    Yeah, grandmas and their knowledge go too soon. Or we get wise too late. Either way it's a loss for us all.
    1924 days ago
    Oh, I can't tell you how many old recipes my family lost for the same reasons.

    Luckily, we have saved many of my mother's favorite recipes. Oddly enough, many of the recipes she cooked came from popular cook books. So, one thing you might do is find out what cook books were popular during the 1920s-30s. I'll bet you find that recipe for pecan pie. And I'll bet the reason it tasted so good was because she used lard in the crust. When I was growing up, my mom had a TUB of Crisco in the frig. Gotta say, lard did make the best cookies and pies.

    I know how to make the sauce (some Italians call it gravy), my grandmother used to make. That's because I learned the recipe from my aunt who cooked it the same way she did. That's one of a handful of traditional recipes that were passed down to me that I still know how to make.

    hmm... I'm beginning to think I outta write down some of these recipes.

    1924 days ago

    Comment edited on: 6/18/2012 9:56:46 AM
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