While on the subject of recipes, I’ve been thinking about cooking in general . In 8th grade, Miss McKeague did try to teach us cooking basics. The part I remember best is that every cooking implement had to be placed in the drawer in a particular order, and we were tested on this. But for our first actual food lesson we made applesauce, an experience I gave my elementary classes each year. We also made corn chowder, and once in a while when I am feeling ambitious, I will try one of the various corn chowder recipes I’ve clipped from a newspaper. But the process I remember best was for making “Eggs ala Goldenrod,” which I guess was designed to teach us to make white sauce. You took a hard-boiled egg, diced the white and stirred it into the white sauce you had made, poured this mixture on toast and then crumbled the yellow on the top. I think I made this once at home for Dot and my mother, but then never again. We had this class for a whole year, so there must have been other recipes, but none I recall.
I have finally realized that from the beginning I really preferred baking. Years before cooking in school , it all started with a baking set I received for Christmas when I was probably 9 or 10. This was in the days before Easy-Bake Ovens, even before the days of mixes. There must have been more pieces to the set, but I recall a rolling pin and small pie plates, and best of all, a small folder of recipes. My favorite was for Hermits. Just typing that word brings back memories: tried the recipe, loved the hermits and for years afterward would head to Steen’s Bakery in Medford Square to buy them.
My mother quickly promoted me from the play set and allowed me to bake for real. At first my specialties were Hot Milk Sponge Cake and Gingerbread, both made from her recipes. They were simple, and neither required frosting. However, one time I messed up the sponge cake batter so badly that I crept out, dumped it in the garbage pail, and secretly started from the beginning again. From those two easy cakes I moved on to a spice cake and also a Devil’s Food Cake” with frosting for each, taken from “The Joy of Cooking,” and cream puffs with custard filling from “Fanny Farmer’s Cook Book.”
Once I had kids and while there were still kids at home, it was always cookies: chocolate chip cookies, Christmas cookies, brownies, and peanut butter fingers.
But by far my favorite thing was making (or should I say eating) popovers. A neighbor introduced me to them, and from then on I made them on a regular basis. To me, popovers are required for every birthday, for every holiday, and even to turn an ordinary day into a special day. Sometimes I celebrate with them, sometimes I console myself with them.
Sorry for this calorie-laden post, but do go ahead and have something baked, even if you buy it instead of making it. Life is too short to deny yourself too often.
Dorothy C. Judd © 2015