I will admit it. I am addicted to recipes. I love nothing better than going through my favorite magazines and finding recipes that look too good to be true. I have thick binders full of recipes, gleaned over the years from magazines, newspapers and more recently printed online. One in ten are never tried out, but I am getting better...I think.
My early marriage was trying new things and learning the old standards of my mother and mother in law. Trying to convert recipes down to two sized people took some doing and before I knew it those recipes had to expand to include kids. A few recipes became family favorites and now 20 years later are still standard fare at a potluck or requested for a dessert when my wandering children are home.
I adopted Kurt's mom's favorite cut out cookie for Christmas. Actually she borrowed the recipe from her sister in law, a standard Swedish version of a cut out cookie that employs of all things, hard boiled egg yolks. It makes a thick cut out cookie that is not overly sweet with a lemon-y tang to it that I have come to love. A bit of plain old powdered sugar icing makes it perfect. It is not only Kurt's favorite, but both boys wait for the rolling pin to come out. I also make Kurt a plain white angel food cake every year for his birthday. His mother did, and its his favorite, so he gets one. I have made her pasta sauce in the past, and its one Ryan likes to make, but it never tastes quite right to Kurt or I, so on that I am still experimenting. If you've got any killer pasta recipes, send them my way.
I didn't bring many of my favorite things from my own family, aside from my mom's pie making ability and a chocolate chip cookie recipe that got me through two boys and one daughter's baseball and softball years. That cookie recipe came from Mom but by way of her best friend in our country neighborhood, Joyce. Mom tried it, liked it and it was one of the first cookie recipes I made all by myself and went with me to my new married home. My kids grew up and that cookie and the cut outs were probably the two constants. Pie making was just something I learned to do and a good way to use up fruit of all kinds. When the boys requested my apple pies, I knew I had it made.
Nope, not many things came with me that I loved. Potato pancakes, I absolutely love, but have had little luck getting any of the kids to more than tolerate. Kurt will eat them but doesn't crave them as do I. Even more than potato pancakes are fried apples. The smell of bacon and apples cooking in a big iron skillet on a late summer's morning immediately transports me back to the cottage at Sand Lake and Grandpa and Grandma getting breakfast ready. Fried apples signalled the waning of summer but also was the essence of summer and the times spent at Sand Lake in that wonderful cottage which will always be part and parcel of my childhood.
Popovers, anything with shrimp, magic cookies, fried eggs and grilled cheese sandwiches, fish sticks and caramel frosting... Those were the foods of my childhood. I made an apple cream cheese bundt cake yesterday from a recipe I had ripped from Southern Living magazine. It has become one of my favorite places to pull recipes not only for the traditonal bent they still esteem but also the wonderful pictures that make every recipe seem a must try. I had a Bible Study yesterday and a birthday for one of the ladies. A perfect time to try this cake. It was complicated, not so much the ingredients but the time and bowls and measuring cups it required. After mixing the cream cheese layer and the basic apple-spice cake from scratch, and layering the cake and the cream cheese in layers, it was baked in the oven. Later in the afternoon I mixed up the "praline frosting" for the top. From the point of putting butter, brown sugar and a bit of milk in a saucepan to heat up and bring to a quick boil, stirring constantly, I knew where this frosting was going. It was the caramel frosting of my youth. The frosting I loved so much I didn't need the white cake that generally went underneath. The frosting I would make myself and hide under the bed to take spoonfuls when only the sweet, tooth aching, deliciousness would raise up whatever childhood angst I was suffering. Nothing was so bad that caramel frosting didn't make it better.
But I left caramel frosting back in my childhood. It never became part of my kids birthday cakes and since frosting in a can came out shortly after Annie was born, and since most cake icing was beyond my best culinary skills, I latched onto the wonder that made spreading frosting effortless and lasting forever. Caramel frosting became a dim memory and something spotted only on occassional excursions into Amish country and baking as it seems to have survived well in their dessert schemes. But then last night I made the praline frosting for the apple cream cheese bundt cake, aka caramel frosting with a dressed up southern name. It was heaven. One hot spoonful and making it to the cake was in serious jeopardy. Funny, how food can conjure up memories no matter our ages. Good memories and in the case of my mom and M&M's really bad ones.
The praline frosting made it to the bundt cake and it was a very good cake and would have been good but not quite as good without the frosting and sprinkling of toasted pecans, but the licking of the bowl and the stir spoon brought back the sweetest of memories and that's priceless....
And sometime ask me about Mom and the M&M's...