The Benefits of a Recipe

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It’s another weeknight and I’m still not sure what I’m cooking for dinner. Sound familiar? Each Saturday morning, as I peruse the Waverly Market, I fill my basket with meat and produce and bread vowing that this week I will use one of the many recipes I’ve collected and make some spectacular dish.

By Sunday I’m back to chicken covered in mushroom soup and peas. The recipes remain untouched yet again. Even though I have a box and a drawer…and a binder…filled with cards and recipes clipped from the paper that I’ve not tried.  Yet I continue to grab my scissors and cut out additional ones from magazines. It’s madness!0124191651

Last year I began to downsize my house. I’ve done well and have given away or disposed of many items that I never believed I’d  be able to give up. It was easier than I thought. The recipes, however, continued to be moved from one place to another. Why couldn’t I just toss them away?

One day recently I forced myself to sit down and at least look through them. Nearly three hours later I finally learned why I had such a hard time parting with these slips of paper. They were more than just recipes, they were memories of places and times and people.

In the recipe box I have cards written out by the hands of my grandmother and my mother-in-law, both of whom are no longer in this world. There are cards I’ve collected from friends. Recipes cut from newspapers that are now out of business. There’s even recipes for beef stew from my mom before she became a vegetarian. It’s a treasure box of my history as a wife and a mother.

There were plenty that I found, such as four different recipes for beef stroganoff  which were basically all the same, that I could easily part with. I also discovered I must really like chicken [I mean really, really like chicken!] because I had a total of forty-seven different chicken dishes that ranged from kabobs to stew and kiev to parmesan. Apparently I could eat chicken for a month and have it a different way every day!0124191653

The recipes I’ve collected over the past twenty-eight years have now been wrangled under control and have a place of honor in a drawer of a desk given to me by my mother-in-law. I’m going to do my best this year, and for all those yet to come, to bring some of these recipes to life.  Bon Appetit!

Dear Reader,

First, thanks for taking the time to stop by and read my blog. Now, please share with me and other readers one of your favorite recipes or  what dishes you enjoy cooking.

The Comfort of Dumplings

imageThe Sunday before my son went back to college I made one of his favorite meals, chicken with dumplings. There something meditative about chopping the onions and carrots. It is satisfying to me to make a meal for him that he loves.
I think about the days when he and his sister were younger and always wanted to help me in the kitchen. I would prepare the dough, with a little extra for them to use, and together we would form the dumplings for our meal. The fragrance of the simmering chicken broth brings these memories to the forefront of my mind.
When I was a child I learned to make dumplings in the kitchen with my grandmother. She was of Irish descent and could make just about any type of meal from a potato. I loved the way she made the dumplings, especially when we had sauer beef. I enjoyed them so much she decided to add them to pea soup. I however, was not about to eat green dumplings!
My grandmother has been gone many years now, but my auntie and I still remembered her delicious meals. Several years ago we came across a restaurant that made sauer beef and dumplings that tasted as good as if my grandmother had cooked them herself.
As the snow begins its journey towards my home, I feel the need to make dumplings. My children are grown and living away from home. I guess that means more dumplings for me!

Nana’s Dumplings

6 medium baking potatoes.          2eggs     1 1/2 teaspoons of salt

1/2 cup of flour      1/2 cup of butter     1teaspoon of paprika

1teaspoon of pepper.               1/4 cup of dried bread crumbs

Peel and grate potatoes. Add eggs, salt, flour and butter.  Beat the batter with a fork until fluffy. Add pepper and paprika. Form small balls of dough about 1inch in diameter.  You may need to add more flour if dough is too sticky. Drop into boiling salted water. Cook for ten minutes. Add cooked dumplings to gravy or broth.

Sunday Dinner – Chicken Divan

Is the tradition of the Sunday dinner lost in our society today? As we move farther from our families and take on more responsibilities and activities we seem to spend less time in our homes. Growing up in South Baltimore my family had dinner together every evening, but Sunday dinner was special. We always ate downstairs in my grandparents apartment. Nana would make a roast with potatoes and carrots and green beans. Every Sunday it was a variation of the same dinner and afterwards coffee was served with cake. There was always coffee and cake. 

I look forward to Sundays. It ‘s the day I get to spend the most time with my family and I find myself more aware and eager for this time now that my son is closer to graduating from high school. How many more Sundays will we share our evening meal? I can’t tell you the last time I spent a Sunday afternoon with my own mother which is something I must remedy. 

On Sunday I always cook a big supper, something that involves various pots and pans and usually an entire afternoon. Today I made Chicken Divan. It was quite simple, though my kitchen sink is now over flowing with discarded utensils and plates. I don’t think I’ll ever be a neat or organized cook. 

The dish came out splendidly and I was pretty proud of myself until my teenager declared the dinner smelled like perfume. He ate heartily despite his comment. My husband enjoyed his dinner but afterwards enquired whether it was heart healthy. I took that to mean that it was good, but don’t make it again. 

I enjoy trying out different recipes, some are more successful than others. How else will I know if I don’t try? Whatever the outcome I always accomplish my goal and that is to spend time with the people who mean the most to me.  

             

Lunch At The Red Canoe

Whatever the weather, it’s always a good day to have lunch at The Red Canoe. This afternoon I treated myself to their special which was a turkey sandwich with mozzarella and fennel slaw on toast. It was delicious. 

The Red Canoe has been a popular spot since opening in 2004. Located in the Hamilton/ Lauraville area of North East Baltimore, the cafe was purchased last October by Josie Rhodes and Tina Perry. They continue to carry the cafe’s award winning muffins and weekly children’s hour for preschoolers and their parents, while establishing new events such as First Friday’s featuring a different artist each month and weekend brunch specials. I had the opportunity to have brunch here on New Year’s Day and Tina’s biscuits and gravy were the best I have ever tasted. 

The Red Canoe also houses a children’s bookstore which focuses on the very young with a unique selection of picture books and toys. During the warmer months the cafe opens its deck and yard for outdoor dining. It is a pleasant way to spend a summer afternoon.

The Red Canoe is known for its good food, good coffee and good people which makes owners Josie and Tina happy.  You’ll be happy too when you come to The Red Canoe. 

  

  

  

  

For more information on The Red Canoe go to  http://redcanoecafe.virb.com

Cold hands, warm cereal.

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It was five degrees this morning in Baltimore. My kitchen windows fogged over as the water boiled for tea. Every morning, as I gather the ingredients to make my oatmeal, I think of my mother. When I was growing up she liked to make hot cereal for our breakfast. She would eat cereal three meals a day if she could and now that she lives alone she just may.
The smell of the simmering apples and cinnamon bring me back to the days after my son was born. My mom would come over in the morning and make oatmeal with vanilla and walnuts and cranberries. She would hold the baby and sit with me in bed as I ate. I don’t remember ever having oatmeal that tasted as delicious as the bowls she served. I can never seem to duplicate the same flavor no matter how hard I try.
It might be that it was more than the oatmeal; it was the happiness of having her with me. I was teetering between bliss and anxiety, feelings often experienced by new mothers. Having my own mom available to help care for us was a relief and luxury not everyone is able to experience. Of all the wonderful ways she helped that week, it’s the oatmeal that stands out. I was filled with nourishment and love.
On this cold morning, after I have dropped my six foot senior off at high school, I chop the apples and stir the milk and remember the warmth of those days.
What food conjures up feelings of love and warmth to you? It’s a good day to think warm thoughts!

Good morning from a Baltimore Kitchen!

My first memories are of my kitchen in the house where I grew up on Fort Avenue. It was the largest room in our home and the place we spent the most time. My grandmother, Nana, said it was because it was the warmest warm, but my dad said it was because of all the food.

We did seem to have an abundance of food. Nana was the head dietician at McCormick’s on Light Street and she was always whipping up a meal or a snack. And there was always coffee! The first thing Nana did was fill the huge percolator with the coffee she had ground at the A&P.

They were good days filled with friends and family. I have long since moved to my own home and my kitchen is the center of it. We cook and have our meals, play games, do homework, and spend time together.

In the coming post I plan to share your stories as well as mine alongside some recipes, interviews, and photos. There will be book reviews, restaurant ratings and you may even meet a few of Baltimore’s outstanding chefs!

if you have something to share, don’t be shy, contact me at kkurthgray@gmail.com.

Kim