Monday, April 2, 2012

Boiling Water

When I married (too many years ago to share), I could only boil water, make brownies, marinara sauce, French toast, and pie. My new husband was shocked.

My sister was the chef in the family.  She just loved to mix and stir, dice and chop, braise and saute.  You could find her in the kitchen, having eschewed the so coveted "Easy-Bake-Oven" as being too small shortly after its arrival, standing on a stool, using my Mom's hand mixer to whip up egg whites for a meringue.  At the age of eight! 

When in high school, I was enlisted to start the meringue for Baked Alaska for my parent's anniversary party.  Gamely setting out, I carefully cracked the twelve eggs and separated the egg yolks from the whites, put the ingredients in the bowl and beat, and beat, and fluffy white foam, just a wet slimy mess in the bottom of the bowl.  Glancing over, my sister offered, "you must have gotten some yolk in there."  Throw that out, wash the beaters and bowl in hot soapy water, and start again.

Went through the process again.  Same result... "Couldn't we just have cake and ice cream?" I asked Rosalind.  "No! Go to the store and get more eggs."

This time I watched her try.  "Aren't you going to put in the sugar and vanilla?" I asked.  "Is THAT what you did?" she replied, shaking her head.  And so I learned you must read through the entire recipe before you begin and don't even think of skipping steps and never ever just dump all the ingredients listed into a bowl unless that is what the recipe says to do.

Three dozen eggs later, we did have Baked Alaska.
And my love/hate relationship with cooking had begun.  I love to eat, hence I must cook, but I do have a lot of sympathy for the picture my daughter, Camille, recently posted on her blog about raising twins...
I did learn to cook and pretty well according to my friends and family, Norm did not starve or learn to hate marinara sauce or brownies and we are still married, but I must confess to loving to read about cooking, more than actually doing it.  I happily read recipes, cooking magazines, blogs about cooking and novels where food becomes a main character. 

Image via (Click doesn't work, try the link below)
Currently I am reading "Good Enough to Eat" by Stacey Ballis.  Just barely into it, but so far, I love it. 

Other favorites include:

Pomegranate Soup
Pomegranate Soup

View a preview of this book online

Pomegranate Soup

Beneath the holy mountain Croagh Patrick, in damp and lovely County Mayo, sits the small, sheltered village of Ballinacroagh. To the exotic Aminpour sisters, Ireland looks like a much-needed safe haven. It has been seven years since Marjan Aminpour fled Iran with her younger sisters, Bahar and Layla, and she hopes that in Ballinacroagh, a land of “crazed sheep and dizzying roads,” they might finally find a home.

From the kitchen of an old pastry shop on Main Mall, the sisters set about creating a Persian oasis. Soon sensuous wafts of cardamom, cinnamon, and saffron float through the streets–an exotic aroma that announces the opening of the Babylon CafĂ©, and a shock to a town that generally subsists on boiled cabbage and Guinness served at the local tavern. And it is an affront to the senses of Ballinacroagh’s uncrowned king, Thomas McGuire. After trying to buy the old pastry shop for years and failing, Thomas is enraged to find it occupied–and by foreigners, no less.


Babette's Feast and Other Anecdotes of Destiny

4.14 of 5 stars 4.14  ·  rating details  ·  389 ratings  ·  43 reviews
Martine and Philippa are the daughters of a forceful priest of a Lutheran sect. Reared to deny all earthly pleasures, they live out their lives performing good work on behalf of the inhabitants of the tiny Scandinavian fishing village in which they reside. When Babette, the French refugee to whom they have given shelter, asks to repay them by preparing a sumptuous feast,...more
Paperback, 244 pages
Published June 1st 1993 by Vintage Books (first published 1958)

And my all time favorite...maybe because of the featured ingredient...


Front Cover
Doubleday Canada, Nov 14, 2000 - Fiction - 320 pages
When the exotic stranger Vianne Rocher arrives in the old French village of Lansquenet and opens a chocolate boutique called "La Celeste Praline" directly across the square from the church, Father Reynaud identifies her as a serious danger to his flock. It is the beginning of Lent: the traditional season of self-denial. The priest says she'll be out of business by Easter. To make matters worse, Vianne does not go to church and has a penchant for superstition. Like her mother, she can read Tarot cards. But she begins to win over customers with her smiles, her intuition for everyone's favourites, and her delightful confections. Her shop provides a place, too, for secrets to be whispered, grievances aired. She begins to shake up the rigid morality of the community. Vianne's plans for an Easter Chocolate Festival divide the whole community. Can the solemnity of the Church compare with the pagan passion of a chocolate eclair? For the first time, here is a novel in which chocolate enjoys its true importance, emerging as an agent of transformation.

 Recently I found a blog, Molly's Books that lists the author's favorite books about food and I now have a few new books to add to my list.

Please don't click away to the next blog without letting me know your favorite book about food in the comments below!  I may just want to avoid cooking sometime next week as well.


  1. Very much enjoyed your story. Baked Alaska was a favorite of mine when I was experimenting with cooking in my high school and college days. You can hide an infinite number of cake and ice cream combinations under the meringue. And it always garnered wows.

  2. Funny how mmemory works. As I remember it, I was in Easton that summer and the conversation about beating the egg whites by themselves before adding sugar took place over the phone! Also seems that you've inherited Mama's ability to make a good story even better--I'm pretty sure it was only SIX eggs for each try!

    Everyone should also know that your pies were so superior to mine that I didn't make my second pie until I was in my thirties! And then only after you gave me a crust tutorial. This being well after sibling rivalry subsided!

  3. Here's another way we're just alike.

    I was thinking of getting Caroline an Easy Bake. Now I'm thinking beaters.


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