I am fond of quoting a piece of wisdom picked up from some long forgotten sage. It says that in spite of cookbook collections, recipes clipped from magazines, and drawers full of handwritten recipes, most of us rely on the same seven or so recipes for the majority of our meals. I encourage people to eschew the weekly repetition and explore new taste adventures.
It surprised me to learn how much my list of seven has changed. I wouldn’t have noticed, but for two things.
The first one is that I’ve been cleaning my overloaded file cabinet, sorting the contents of files from cooking demonstrations and classes done over the last 10-15 years. In doing so, I’ve also stumbled upon several files of family recipes. I have been finding recipes, good healthy ones, long ignored and forgotten. Not all of them were ever part of my top seven, but some of them were.
The second is that my daughter and I spent an afternoon last week preparing dinners for the week. We used recipes from her collection, and the title of several started with “Mom’s ... “ Like the ones in my files, they were recipes I’d forgotten about, as I moved on to ones.
It has made me recognize something important. It’s like the old song says, “make new friends, but keep the old.” In the process of expanding my repertoire to include new recipes and styles of cooking, I have set aside and forgotten others that we used to enjoy – Greek style fillets, pineapple ginger pork, vegan chocolate cake, stew with dumplings.
Here are a few of the old friends that I’m inviting to my kitchen again.
Ginger Maple Salad Dressing
50 mL (1/4 cup) pure maple syrup
50 mL (1/4 cup) apple cider vinegar
22 mL (11/2 tbsp) canola or other neutral-flavoured vegetable oil
7 mL (11/2 tsp) grated fresh ginger root
Whisk ingredients together in a small bowl, or shake in a bottle with a tight cover. Toss with mixed baby salad greens, spinach, or arugula.
Green Beans with Onions and Almonds
250 g (1/2 lb) green beans, French cut
1 small onion
15 mL (1 tbsp) olive oil
15 mL (1 tbsp) soya sauce
25 mL (2 tbsp) sliced almonds
Toast almonds in dry frying pan over moderate heat until lightly browned and fragrant. Set aside.
Cook green beans in a small amount of boiling water only until tender-crisp, rinse in cold water to prevent further cooking, drain, and set aside. (Omit this step if using frozen French cut beans. They will finish cooking with the onion mixture.)
Halve onion lengthwise and cut into thin crosswise slices. In a frying pan, heat olive oil over medium heat, and cook onions until soft and transparent. Add green beans and soya sauce, increase heat to medium high, and cook until beans are hot and tender.
Spoon into heated serving dish and top with toasted almonds.
The first two steps can be done in advance if desired.
My daughter reminded me that I used to make these cookies when she was a little girl. The recipe came from a decades-old booklet called “Your Money’s Worth in Food,” a government publication that I can tell you little about, since my stained copy lost its cover long ago. It is certainly out of print.
Quick Chocolate Cookies
Adapted from “Your Money’s Worth in Food”
250 mL (1 cup) pastry flour
90 mL (6 tbsp) cocoa
2 mL (1/2 tsp) baking soda
250 mL (1 cup) brown sugar
125 mL (1/2 cup) butter, at room temperature
1 egg, unbeaten
5 mL (1 tsp) vanilla
2 mL (1/2 tsp) almond flavouring, optional
250 mL (1 cup) quick-cooking rolled oats
Preheat oven to 180°C (350°F).
Grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment paper.
In a mixing bowl, sift together flour, cocoa, baking soda and sugar. Add butter, egg, and flavourings. Beat until smooth. Dough will be stiff.
Add rolled oats. Mix thoroughly.
Drop mixture from teaspoons onto baking sheets, and flatten with a fork dipped in cold water.
Bake for 15 minutes.
Let cool about 5 minutes, then lift from baking sheets and cool on a rack.
About 2 1/2 dozen cookies, 2.5 cm (1 inch) in diameter.
Margaret Prouse, a home economist, can be reached by writing her at RR#2, North Wiltshire, P.E.I., C0A 1Y0, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.