Sunday, March 27, 2011
I was helping (okay, watching) Mom in the kitchen one day and she explained that she used a couple scoops of flour for what she was fixing. Now, I was too busy taking math and science classes to take Home Ec in high school, but I knew that sometimes measuring was important and I asked how much that scoop held. She shrugged, that's just the way Mom J did it, so that was the way she would do it. Then, she told me how Mom J organized and cooked a chicken dinner for a couple hundred people to pay the insurance premium for the church. Good thing, because they had a fire the next month and were able to rebuild.
So, I always grew up cooking large quantities of food and learned to eyeball things. A few years after we were married, I bought a big stockpot. Many thought I was nuts (and I am), but I've always been one to fix batches of spaghetti sauce, chili, chicken noodle soup, beef vegetable soup, etc., then we'd eat on them during the week. Kind of the way Mom would do it. Dad worked for the railroad and kept odd hours. I remember eating steak at 2am on a TV tray. That's the way we did it, we ate when we were hungry and there was always something on the stove or that could be warmed up. The cooking shows where they fix only enough for one meal and sit down at a table are fascinatingly foreign to me.
It's still the way I work. But last night, I asked my husband if he wanted me to fix chili or spaghetti sauce with the ground beef and he threw me for a loop. He said, "Why don't you fix both?" Fix just a small batch? Of two things? In explanation, I have food allergies which include beef and tomato (and chicken and dozens of other things--it sucks! But that's another story.), so I can only eat a serving of either say every other day. I immediately thought about sharing some, making a casserole and taking it over to someone. That's what Mom or Grandmother would do. Or I could freeze some, so it wouldn't be sitting in the 'fridge forever. And that meant I could fix the chicken later in the week and not worry the stuff I already had would go bad....
So, while I was grateful Chris actually gave me a suggestion, rather than saying "I dunno. Fix what you want," I was also grateful that he made me think. True, I still had to dirty up the pans, but that's okay. I ate the spaghetti for lunch and he had the chili and life was good.
I've tried to put a little of this in my fiction. Important scenes happen during meals. My heroine considers what it would be like if she didn't marry the hero and ten years down the road would be fixing dinner for one and eating it by herself. In another book, her niece gets a coffeemaker from her lover with the promise that he'll fix coffee for her every morning.
Important things happen in life while cooking and eating or one could say cooking and eating are life and love.