Friday, 5 November 2010

My first recipe (no actual recipe included)

I was lazy tonight and didn't cook. Well, I did, but it was just pasta with nothing special. And then we had mint Oreos for dessert. Awl-raight*! But since I didn't do anything particularly exciting food-wise today, I borrowed some ideas from Isa's inspiration thread and decided I'd talk about my first recipe.

OK, in fairness, I think this is just the first thing I very specifically recall making. And it's just the story of it.

I'm sure I've mentioned this before, but my grandmother pretty much taught me how to cook from about the time when I could physically be put to work helping. She was one of those 50s housewives who grew up poor on a farm in the South but got just far enough into the middle class to get into that weird semi-homemade / heavily branded thing. Looking through some of her recipe books, and recipes she wrote herself, almost every recipe had either an ingredient that would normally have been an entire recipe on its own (e.g. pudding mix) or demanded the use of a particular brand (e.g. Crisco shortening). So she had her well-seasoned cast iron pans that probably belonged to another woman in the family before her sitting next to her various molds for the shaping of Jell-O (OK, I'm not actually 100% sure she made Jell-O molds, but it's a reasonable assumption). She was also a Navy wife, and her travels took her to places and introduced her to cuisines that most of the people back home wouldn't have heard of until the 90s or later (like couscous).

The point I'm trying to make is that the woman knew how to cook at the best of times and the worst of times, with both the best and worst ingredients. And by getting me in the kitchen from a young age, she fostered a love of cooking in me.

I can't really remember when I started baking. I have vague recollections of making biscuits and gravy from a very young age. But I remember when I started to realise I was good at it. When I was in 4th grade (age 9), I was in 4H. We had a baking contest, and my entry was my favourite dessert made even more sickeningly sweet and thus perfect for a 9-year-old. I made chocolate chip blondies with an entire jar of marshmallow cream swirled into the batter. I wasn't the only person who thought these things were a party in one's mouth. I ended up tied for first place with the boy I had a crush on. He made peanut butter cookies (this was well before the days of banning peanut butter in schools so allergic kids wouldn't be exposed to it), so I was unable to judge for myself who had the best baked good.

When I was 9, it was the best thing I'd ever put in my mouth. At 31, it would probably make me vomit as soon as I woke up from the sugar coma (or vomit then sugar coma). But the great thing about progress is that I could actually make a vegan version of this, since we (people of the world, not necessarily those of us in the UK) now have access to delicious Ricemellow Creme. So hey, if someone out there wants to make the Call Me Blondies from Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar and swirl or fold in a tub of Ricemellow Creme, you should totally let me know how it turns out. Actually, if I hadn't already eaten most of my tub, I might do it myself.

*That should be pronounced as heard in this video.