Fate basically sent me my New Year’s resolution. Or challenge, if you prefer. Fate happened to come in the form of my mother and grandmother, as it oddly and frequently seems to do. And also in the not so humanistic form of a cookbook. Since acquiring an apartment and subsequent kitchen of my own, Mom and Grandma have cheered me on in my maiden voyage of culinary culture in a manner not unlike an overzealous Zumba teacher (“YOU can do this! You have it in you to fulfill your grocery needs!”). If we were to follow this analogy, I’m essentially that person in the back row, awkwardly three steps behind, my ponytail hitting others in the face during attempts to “shimmy.”
In a loving effort to more deeply immerse me in my galley-style kitchen, my mom and grandma kindly put pen to paper, recording all of their timeless recipes. Classy chicken continental, a meatloaf so moist it makes all others look like old hags that spent too long in the sun, and a pie crust that has won many a county fair blue ribbon. Did I mention we’re from the Midwest?
A total of 85 recipes carefully collected over a combined 148 years (you can guess the ages of Mom and Grandma, though with that total I’m guessing neither would be pleased if you did). By no means is this a summary of their time spent in the kitchen, but for a chef that’s more of a hash slinger, this is beyond an adequate jumping off point. And this year, on this blog, I’m cooking through them all.
My goodness, what am I getting myself into?
The recipes thankfully vary in skill level (Easy day? Hello, cheese strata! Ready for a challenge? Step on up Swedish Plätta. Grandma thankfully subtitled that as tiny, thin pancakes). Each week will come a new recipe and an adventure in my 4×6 foot workshop. I’m predicting my grocery bill and floor scrubbing will at least double. But I’m hoping so will my understanding of this foreign kitchen land (not that I haven’t visited, but I’m not a frequent flyer per say). Mom and Grandma are the kitchen equivalent to the U.S. Women’s Gymnastics team in Rio. Unshakable, eyes on the prize, and simply put, solid. Though perhaps a bit less flexible.
To enter into their kitchen during crunch time is kind of like being the away team at homecoming. Intimidating and scarily impressive. With the upper body strength of a football player, I’ve watched Mom lug a 20 pound turkey from the oven. Grandma has broken blazing hot buns apart with her bare hands! Sometimes I find the dishwater too warm! But now I’ll have the home team advantage, knowing where all my utensils are and making nice with the vintage oven that can flare up temperature tantrums akin to Alec Baldwin.
For those of you who are preparing to brave this journey with me, thank you. I of course welcome any advice you’re willing to impart. Anyone who is anticipating this blog to be filled with cholesterol-friendly, heart-happy, fuel food, I will kindly direct thee elsewhere. My family’s Midwestern roots rear their heads (vines?) through recipes like the beloved Tater Tot Casserole (Hot Dish, for my Minnesota friends. Though that argument is for another time), Molasses Crinkles, and dare I say it, Potato Chip Cookies. So, if your New Year’s Resolution involved decreasing your trans fats, carbs, and consequently, happiness, begin that search elsewhere. If you’re placing yourself in dietary detention, welcome to your new homepage for food porn.