I have a box filled with old recipes. Some typed, some painfully constructed in all caps on index cards of varying sizes. Others are xeroxed and folded. A few are scribbled down on a scrap of paper. They chronicle the various stages of our married life.
The oldest were transcribed before the advent of xerox copiers. When we got together in 1970, copying machines were unimaginable. The recipe cards from that earliest decade are the most interesting to me right now.
We were poor. Everything we ate was homemade; it was cheaper that way. We did not have a car during our first years together. Consequently, I went grocery shopping twice a month. I walked there and shopped like a brazen hussy before calling a taxi to take me home. I was organized about food because I had to make our money last. Before shopping I figured out two weeks worth of meals, buying what was needed for each and planning for overlap. It worked! We never starved.
I've had fun seeing the old recipes from those early days. There is a certain recipe for "Herbed Soybean Casserole" that was truly vile. I could never make it taste good. Probably no one could. I almost threw the recipe away today, but decided it is a cultural relic, good for a laugh.
My signature dish from my youth was homemade pizza. Years ago, I found a reasonably quick recipe for pizza crust in a Fanny Farmer Cookbook. I also made a quick, fresh sauce from cans of peeled, plum tomatoes and dried herbs. In my youthful exuberance I grabbed each tomato by hand, pinched a hole in the middle and then squeezed them senseless into the pan. I was still a kid. It was all about having fun.
I bought mozzarella in solid rectangular packages and carefully sliced it, making it last. For the topping, I fried up onions and green peppers in olive oil until they were limp and luscious. Fresh sliced mushrooms would go on the pizza, too, and sliced black olives for color.
Yesterday I decided to make that venerable pizza again, the old way. I still enjoyed squeezing the whole, peeled tomatoes into the pan. It seems some thrills never get old. I threw myself into kneading that dough, punching and pushing and giving it tough love until it was just right to stretch. I even used the same old pan from our youth to stretch the pizza out on for baking. It was fabulous. Now I am going to eat the leftovers for breakfast. That was always part of the plan.