coming out of my shell

coming out of my shell

Monday, October 23, 2017

A recipe for love

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.





25 comments:

  1. It looks good. Now i regret i threw so many things from the past, they have a special meaning when the time pass.

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  2. Laura made pizza yesterday, and commented how much better than delivery. When I was newly married and the parties were every week or so, at my house it always was my "famous" homemade pizza. My recipe probably came from the same place. All the guests had to help, first kneading the dough, then placing ingredients. Unless they were incapacitated, in which case we did double duty. Great flashback. Thanks.

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    1. I'm happy to hear that Laura has been initiated into the mysteries of pizza making! And I love the story of the pizza making parties. Why did I never think of that?

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  3. Pizza for breakfast - I love that, too! Yes, looking at old recipes can bring a lifetime ago springing right back again. I was just doing it last weekend at my Mom's and we would chat about the various recipes and the people who gave them to her. A wonderful way to remember past events and special friends/family.

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    1. What a nice conversation to have with your mother, about old recipes. I'm sure that made her happy.

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  4. We also made everything from scratch. Cake mixes for instance were fairly new and terribly expensive. Besides we had all the ingredients right in the pantry. Your pizza looks yummy.

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    1. Thanks, Emma! And cake mixes never tasted as good as the ones from scratch. There is still one piece of pizza left in the fridge that by rights belongs to T. If he doesn't eat it soon, it just might disappear.

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  5. Since NY-style thick crust pizza is the OC's favorite, that was one of the first things I learned to make. First from store bought dough, then dough from scratch. And yes, kneading dough is as good as an appointment with a therapist. My early sauce came from jars but now I make it your way, including hand-squishing the tomatoes. Yum.

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    1. So fun to squish them! Hey, I put my sewing machine up again. This time I started to actually finish an apron I started probably 6 years ago. We'll see if I finish!

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    2. My oldest UFO is a Jonathon Livinston Seagull crewel embroidery cushion cover that I remember stitching on while my oldest daughter played in her playpen in the garden of our house in California - in 1973. I'm hoping to finish it before I kick the bucket.
      Good luck with your apron. Pictures will be required as proof!

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  6. It was such an inspiring story of yours. We too use to plan a lot before buying a thing. Now i have started to do many dishes. In that one was pizza which came out good and enjoyed by my family. Your pizza looks yummy!

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  7. I get that feeling when making sauce from the tomatoes in my garden. There is just something magical that happens when we intimately connect with our food and it's preparation.

    I was thinking spaghetti for dinner but now maybe pizza . . .

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    1. Even better when the tomatoes are from your garden!

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  8. I love your collection of ancient recipes. I wish I had kept some of my old ones from back in the day. You remind me of a homemade soybean burger recipe we started making in 1970 that my vegetarian (at the time) sibs and I would have at Thanksgiving. Ugh.

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  9. I remember that when we first married most of my recipes had the ingredient of a can of some kind of Campbell soup. For very fancy dinners with company, I would serve a jello salad. I thought of myself as a gourmet chef.

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    1. Love it. Yes, Campbell's mushroom soup was a biggie!

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  10. What a yummy post and it makes me hungry. I remember a herbed soybean casserole dish during our commune days in the early 1980s, we used to make tofu, the kitchen smelled of burned soy milk all the time.

    I have one of my mother's cookery book from the 1950s - pretty awful stuff. Starchy sauces, endlessly boiled vegetables and those cheese hedgehogs for fancy settings. But it has all the xmas cookie recipes from my childhood in it.

    My son-in-law is the world's best pizza baker and we always tell him the minute he walks into the door. He gets the message.

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    1. You are lucky to have the world's best pizza baker in your family!!! I have a particular fondness for xmas cookies.

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  11. Happy Birthday old Girl. Keep on cooking and saving those recipes. XXOO

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  12. Love this post. I read a post about a cauliflower crust pizza. Not in a terrible hurry to try it but am definitely intrigued.

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    1. I saw one, too, and really want to make it. I bought the granulated cauliflower to do so, but it went bad in the fridge waiting for me to become inspired. Oh well.

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So, whadayathink?