COOKING BY THE BOOK

            Although our two kids, now in their 50s, moved out decades ago, in some ways they’re still here. They left a lot of stuff behind. Books, games, baseball cards, handmade birthday cards, pictures, phonograph records and tapes, clothing and school projects.

            In a book case the other day, I found a folder titled “The Art of Kdgn. Cooking, Created by: Chefs in room K-7.”  There were six pages of recipes, ranging from hot dogs to apple cake with a note, presumably from the teacher, that “these recipes were selected by your children as some of their favorite foods they eat at home.” We were living in West Germany at the time and our son, Jack, was attending the U.S. Army School in Munich.

            Jack’s contribution was his version of raisin cookies. It called for eight pounds of flour, four sticks of butter and six raisins. For a family of four that would be one and a half raisins a piece, provided he shared the cookies with the rest of us. What big spenders we were!

While it might have been quite a challenge to discover a raisin in any of the cookies, his recipe didn’t take long from start to finish. “Pour the stuff in a pan and let it cook for 5 min. at 8 degrees,” he wrote. He may have been way off on baking temperature, but his cooking time was fairly accurate. A basic cookie recipe in The Fannie Farmer cookbook stipulates eight minutes in the oven.  

            There were two recipes for pancakes, both submitted by boys. One of them required “3 pounds of milk,” the other said “pancakes are finished when they are a little burned on each side.” For my money, this lad knew what the word “finished” meant at a young age.

            “Finished” was also used in a recipe for “sunny-side-up-eggs.” “It is finished when the yellow thing comes up.”

            I guess when you are six or seven years old your sense of time is yet to be fine-tuned. A recipe for pizza called for ten cups of cheese on a pie that was “to cook at 14 degrees for 22 hours.” So if you were having a Super Bowl party, you’d have to remember to put the pizzas in the oven the night before.

            Other highlights in the recipe book: stew with ten tablespoons of pepper and nine tablespoons of salt; potato salad with 60 potatoes and eight liters of vinegar; and French fries made by first scrubbing the potatoes and then peeling them.

            My favorite in this folder of 25 recipes was one for cherry pie. The ingredients were “six fresh cherries, six cups of flour, ten mouthfulls of water, ½ box of sugar and four mouthfulls of salt.” You cook this treat for six hours at six degrees.

            I wonder what you were supposed to do if you lost count when adding the “four mouthfulls of salt” or the “ten mouthfulls of water.” I do a little baking, mostly apple or cherry pies, and maybe I should try a buttermilk bourbon pie. A recipe I saw suggested a ¼ cup of bourbon. I could practice and see how many mouthfuls that is and then, like any good cook, double it.   

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            (This was first published in the August 2018 issue of the Great South Bay Magazine.)