Sunday, August 10, 2008

Cooking Kids or is it Kids' Cooking?

Life Balance: a feat we try to achieve while searching to be the best that we can we, while simultaneously raising our children to do the same. This is the equilibrium in our inner life force whereby our heartbeat matches the divine force that exists all around us. When this life balance peaks, our sense of peace, joy, love and wisdom acts as one with our very soul.

Summer and the living is easy. Cooking switches between the fun and the inventive and the quick and lazy. Now that the kids are older, I can often say "why don't you cook tonight." Luke will whip together something tried and true like eggs and turkey bacon; Maggie gets out the cook book and starts reading. The other night she pulled out Campbell's Summer Recipes, all using Campbell's soup. She made a nice chicken and rice dish which had tomatoes--oh, skip the tomatoes, Maggie hates them; peppers--use the fresh from the garden, nope Mom, I don't want to--golden corn Campbell's soup--oops, don't have that, use cream of chicken...still, it was the classic chicken and rice which is a favorite standby for a quick easy dish. Maverick even ate it when he came home from a long night of dish washing and said it was good.

Maggie has learned my habit of looking at recipes and making them work with A) What we like to eat ; B)What we have on hand and C)What is the cheaper version of the expensive ingredients listed (like who has fresh tarragon hanging around the fridge waiting to be used???)

I love collecting different and unusual cook books and reading through them. My favorites are the church cookbooks. Today I was reading "Tried and True;" a collection of recipes from the Heritage Village, Gerry New York, circa 1983. It contains lots of favorite wisdom's as well as recipes, like the following:

Dear Father, Help me to:
Forgive the wrongs in others,
Forgive the faults I see;
That I may be forgiven,
The faults that are in me;

--From Allie Musgrove's Scrapbook 1898-1983

The woman of Heritage Village collected over 100 pages of great recipes, everything from Sister Parktan's Brown Bread to Watermelon Rind pickles. You can just taste the love and laughter in the recipes and the occasions they made them for. Bucket of Muffins for 25? Church bazaar of course. Creme de Mynthe Cake? St. Patricks day dinner. Potato Chip Cookies? The grand kids are coming. Scalloped mushrooms and baked chicken almond casserole? Company on the way, bake the Dr. Bird Cake for dessert.

Nowadays we tend to drop by the Wegmans superstore and pick up chicken teriaki to bake and salad for the side. We skip the heavy desserts and munch on chocolate fudge Hershey kisses and cherry M&M's (or Lays Potato chips if you are the Queen). Gone are the 6 course meals with delicious desserts. One friend's Mom, Ruth, always had 2 or 3 desserts on hand. I remember when her son Sean came home from boot camp, she had Boston Cream Pie, Brownies, and chocolate chip cookies on hand. I still make her Grasshopper pie and remember all the trouble she went to make enough for her oldest son's wedding shower. Dinner at Ruth and Bernie's was always a treat. I pull in that love and cook on Sunday's, thinking of the way her house always smelled of the love and looked like sunshine, even on the darkest days.

I look to pass the love of food and cooking to my kids, and teach them to make the best of whatever you have on hand. Use the laughter, pull in the smiles, fold in the friendships by talking on the cell while cooking, add in the family by using the old recipes and making them new again, and best of all, to share them with friends and family. Whatever we are eating gets shared with the friends they have in the house....Maggie's BFF always seems to show on Sunday's, what's up with that? Beans and franks Monday's just don't cut it I guess. And Soccer Boy manages to show up for Taco night. It's time I showed him how to cook it I think.

Good food, good if I could just teach them to clean up when they cook. Hmm, my Mom used to say that to me. Still does.

Some things never change. Ok Mom, I'll clean it up in a minute, honest.

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