Tuesday, March 8, 2022

Recipes for Food and Life


Terry here with our question of the week: Some – not all – mystery novels have recipes in them. But surely every life has at least one recipe in it. What’s your go-to / stand-by recipe? Is it passed down in your family or did you invent it? 

 I don’t know whether to take the question literally or figuratively. That is, are we discussing a recipe for food or a recipe for life? 

 As an enthusiastic cook, I have lots of food recipes that I fall back on when I’m busy or feeling uninspired. And they can’t possibly have been passed down from my family because my ancestors seemed to feel that if it wasn’t breaded and fried, floating in white gravy, or loaded with sugar, it wasn’t worth eating. I exaggerate, but only a little. The key ingredient was always carbs. Lots of them. As you might imagine, my relatives are a hefty bunch. 

 Several years ago one of my (many) cousins complied a book of family recipes. It’s great fun to go through it. Half of the recipes include a can of mushroom soup. A fourth of them are desserts—90% chocolate. Several call for Jello—lime, with celery, pecans, and pineapple; strawberry with fake whipped cream, chopped strawberries, and pecans. 

Whether these were family recipes or made up on the spot, I couldn’t say. I did recognize a few, though—my grandmother’s sweet potato rolls, which were beyond heavenly; my mother’s lemon fluff pie (lemon pie like a cloud); 

my grandfather’s sauerkraut salad recipe (think a cup of sugar for a cup of sauerkraut). Several people contributed barbecue sauce: start with one cup of brown sugar, one cup of ketchup, and as much hot sauce as you can stand and go from there. 

Although they always tasted good, most of these seemed like recipes for a heart attack—except that most of my aunts and uncles lived into their eighties and nineties, and their death had nothing to do with their heart. Go figure. 

 I eat low-carb (see hefty relatives, above), so my go-to recipes are usually some kind of fish/chicken/meat and vegetables. The easiest is my go-to: ground chicken/beef/turkey/pork with a bunch of cabbage and garlic, finished off with sour cream and mustard. You can also add bell peppers. Or mushrooms. Or…you name it. As a basic recipe it doesn’t get much easier. If I’m entertaining, I also have stand-by recipes, some that look fancy but are really easy. 

As for life recipes, I have a few that have stood me in good stead: 
 --Keep on keeping on (this old hippie phrase actually covers a lot of territory)

--Be loyal 

--Be honest, or at least be kind (as in, “honestly, you look great”) 
--Remember, people may be going through hard things you don’t know about. 

 If I relate this question to my Samuel Craddock books, there aren’t recipes in the books, but food does get referenced. Samuel likes enchiladas, barbecue, and beef stew. And his pal Loretta Singletary brings him mouth-watering pastries—coffee cake, cinnamon rolls (I suspect this is to satisfy my craving for food I can't have).

, muffins, and berry-filled buns. 

 And as for Samuel’s recipe for life, I think “be honest” fits him. Also, “be fair.” He has a finely-tuned sense of justice. 

He has more than once been faced with criminals he’d be inclined to let go free, but his fine-honed sense of justice demands that they pay for their actions.


Susan C Shea said...

Green Jello with veggies and fruit....school cafeteria food! My growing up years were hard in some ways, but were pretty amazing when it came to food: pate and cornichons, lamb kidneys, beef tongue, shad roe, and even caviar. Weird, but it means I'll eat almost anything!

Bon appetit!

Catriona McPherson said...

I will never forget the day I found out what was in white "gravy".

Terry said...

White gravy is disgusting--and a staple in the south.

Susan, I was way grown before I knew what any of those things were, except for beef tongue. My grandmother used to cook it and we kids found it hilarious (such little heathens). And we ate tongue sandwiches, happily.

Susan C Shea said...

Okay, what IS in "white gravy"? Flour and water?

Sherry Fields said...

Flour and milk

Sherry Fields said...

This post made me laugh Although Terry is my sister we didn’t grow up eating the same food. I had an aversion to white food so I didn’t eat white gravy, milk, whipped cream or even ice cream. And I sure don’t remember eating a tongue sandwich. But I loved fried chicken and chocolate anything and I still do. and I fit right in with heavy relatives