For most of my life, I have been cooking the same meals that my mother cooked when I was growing up. (the photo below is my mom’s cookbook, on the right, and a cookbook that I created in remembrance of her, on the left.) Mom cooked lots of spaghetti with red sauce, pot roast, chicken corn soup, vegetable soup, meatloaf, split pea soup, chili, baked ham with mashed potatoes, sand tart cookies and menu items along those lines. These are all fairly simple recipes, but it took me years to master them. The first time I invited friends over for dinner, I decided to make spaghetti. You would have thought I was cooking for a platoon of soldiers. I had an enormous amount of pasta left in the pot at the end of the meal.
On the next occasion that I tried cooking for friends, I wanted to be more adventuresome so I planned on cooking chicken, a veggie and some potatoes. The dinner seemed to go on forever. The veggies were ready first, the potatoes about a half hour later and finally the chicken was fully cooked within the next half hour. I wouldn’t say that making desserts is my forte and I should have known better than to try to bake a cake on this particular night. I had to hold the cake together with about 20 toothpicks. It didn’t look too bad, once it had icing on it. Unfortunately, I have always had the same result with my cake baking skills. I no longer stress over this, as long as there is a Whole Foods within driving distance.
I didn’t realize, when I was growing up, that I was missing out on some really superb food choices. I believe I was 19 before I had my first bagel. And I certainly had never had lox before trying a bagel. Now I could eat lox and bagels every single day. Thank you Gib’s Bagels for plopping down a shop in Windsor.
I can distinctly remember the first time I peered down at an artichoke that was placed before me at a dinner party. I was 27 years old and didn’t have a clue how to eat the darn thing. I am pretty sure I broke out in a sweat, while waiting for someone to dive in so I could mimic them.
I was in my 20’s when I first ate quiche, but it took me years to get the courage up to actually try and bake a quiche myself.
When I met my husband and his two daughters I was convinced that I should be cooking them hearty dinners. The three of them were regulars at my restaurant, Matthew’s. Although I knew they were eating well at local restaurants, I felt as if they should be gathering around a kitchen table and eating home cooked food. Hence, the quirky quiche story.
I had been cooking meals for friends for many years leading up to this point. I had even gotten used to the food not always coming out perfectly. I had recently been given a copy of Quiche Cookbook. Quiche had become my “go to” choice when dining out and I wanted to try my hand at cooking the egg custard dish. All the recipes looked fairly easy in my new cookbook and I thought there was no way that I could fail. Well, guess again. On the evening that I planned the debut of my new dish, I brought the steaming quiche out of the oven and served it up to Jay and the girls. It looked beautiful to me. Everyone took a bite at the same time and all of a sudden each person was snickering at the table; including me. And then there was full on laughter which reached a hysterical level. The quiche did not set-up. I have no idea what I did wrong, but ever since that night we have all referred to my quiche as “soup quiche.” The funny thing is, there was no criticism of my cooking. In fact, they were saying it tasted just fine. But we were unable to stop laughing, as each person kindly ate their slice of quiche. So, I kept cooking for them over the years, and I have finally mastered this dish. It is Mother’s Day this Sunday. If your mom is the cook of the house and she occasionally screws up a meal; give her some grace, don’t be critical, and she just may keep cooking for you. Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms out there.