Memories Hidden From View

The past is merely fragmented memories woven into a story that changes according to how you tell it. You can alter the impact your past has on you by changing your story about it…You live in whatever story you tell yourself.

Jarl Forsman and Steve Sekhon – Bite Size Happiness: Volume 1

Taking time off from work is both a blessing and a curse. I’ve taken long weekends where by the final day I am ready to head back to the office and get back to work. This compulsive urge of needing to work has been with me my entire life. My parents’ generation of immigrants, my ethnic heritage, my upbringing all contributed to my strong work ethic. I was quite surprised when recently all of this changed. It’s not that I’ve lost my work ethic or anything like that. I still work hard but I’ve also found other things to do with my time. One of the projects on this extended weekend was to de-clutter  and the target was my collection of saved recipes. Like any other household item the strategy was brutally simple: keep or toss. It didn’t take long to determine that most of the recipes I’d been keeping for possible future meals would be tossed.  Here’s some of the things that you learn about yourself while de-cluttering your recipe collection:

  1. I had saved recipes and old newspaper clippings since 1976.
  2. I never used any of those recipes.
  3. I’ve known for a long time that what I cook and eat currently is a lot different than what I used to cook and eat.  Most of the saved recipes are dishes that I would not cook now.
  4. An entire folder of pork and lamb recipes got tossed.  I eat pork on rare occasions and can’t even remember the last time I had lamb.
  5. Groupings of old newspaper articles eventually became cookbooks for their authors.  I have these same recipes in the cookbooks from the same authors in my cookbook collection.  Why did I keep the old clippings?
  6. Thinning out the cookbook collection is next on the de-clutter list.

I was literally tossing out everything until I found this:

 

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At first I didn’t recognize what I was holding in my hand.  It took a few minutes to realize I was holding an old recipe that was written in my Father’s handwriting.  After this discovery the pace of my purge slowed.  I didn’t want to accidentally discard a cherished memory.

Memories hidden from view that were here with me waiting to be uncovered and woven back into my story.  Have I ever mentioned my Father was one hell of a cook?

 

Dad’s Batter for Frying

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To avoid any confusion this is MY Dad’s batter recipe.  So if you’re a sibling it’s your Dad’s recipe.  If you’re a child of mine (Guns & Roses…) this is your Grandfather’s batter on your Father’s side.  If you’re my grandchild…

I’m learning more about my Box Project all the time.  I’m not just capturing my own favorite recipes but also rediscovering family history too.

Rather than rewrite the recipe I simply posted a photo of the 3×5 index card.  This prevents me from revising the recipe as I write.  Because as I look at this recipe I can’t help but think beer not water and maybe heating up the oil before you start frying might be a good thing to do.  Or the “half glass” measure?  Trust me on this.  I had to have asked Dad for the recipe then wrote it down verbatim.

I’ve not deep fried anything at home in decades.  Not even sure anyone in the family besides my oldest grandchild would enjoy a piece of batter fried chicken.  Well, maybe he would.

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The Original Nicky Dip

When friends get together for food and drink, the conversation sometimes gets a bit quirky.  It was a small get together of six and somehow the conversation turned to dip.

“What’s in that cheese dip you guys made once.  It was awesome.”

“We didn’t have any dip tonight.  What are you talking about?”

“I had it one of the other times we were together.  It had cheese in it.”

Now that was helpful.

“What else was in it?  What kind of cheese?  What did it taste like?  What kind of chips were served?  Can you remember anything else about the dip?”

Imagine six people trying to figure out which cheese dip recipe it was based upon a single clue: cheese.  Then the quirky one who started the whole quirky conversation said,

“It also had chilies in it.”

“Oh, you must be referring to Nicky’s Cheese Dip.”

To The Box.  I found an email dated January 10, 2010 from one to all of us in the group.  There it was and here it is.

  • 2 eight ounce packages of Philadelphia cream cheese
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1 four-ounce can of chopped green chilies, drained
  • 2 ounces diced jalapeño peppers
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  1. Blend the cream cheese and mayonnaise using a hand mixer.
  2. Stir in the Parmesan, peppers and chilies.
  3. Place mixture into an ovenproof serving or baking dish.
  4. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes or until bubbly and slightly browned.
  5. Serve warm with chips.

 

Random thoughts – For the chips use tortilla chips or Frito’s (if you’re into that sort of thing).  For some strange reason I always thought this dip had a few dashes of hot sauce in it.  Add a few drops of your favorite hot sauce (trust me on this).   He Who Asked the Question will probably play with this recipe by removing some fat and calories while preserving the original flavor profile.

Do it.  And if you come up with a tasty low cal version, please share.  Let the cream cheese soften a bit at room temperature.  Start the mixer at a slow speed unless you want cream cheese and mayo splattered on the wall.

 

Strawberry Mousse

  • One package unflavored gelatin
  • 1/2 cup cold water
  • 1 cup strawberries, crushed
  • 2 egg whites
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup heavy cream whipped
  • 1 drop red food coloring
  1. In a sauce pan soften the gelatin in water.
  2. Stir over low heat until the gelatin dissolves.
  3. Crush strawberries, stir into the gelatin mixture.
  4. Remove from heat and allow to cool.
  5. Beat egg whites until stiff.  Gradually add sugar.  Fold in strawberry mixture.
  6. Whip cream.  Fold into the strawberry mixture.  Add one drop of red food coloring.
  7. Pour into individual molds or bowls.
  8. Garnish with fresh strawberries and chill for four hours.
  9. Serves 6-8.

“I’m going to make something light for dessert.”

“Like what?”

“Strawberry Mousse and Forgotten Cookies.”

“You forgot what?”

“No, I’m also making cookies to go with the mousse.”

“Why?”

“You’ll see.”

Tips

I crushed the strawberries with a potato masher.  You don’t want puree.  Leave some chunks.  Serve with Forgotten Cookies.  You’ll see.

Another recipe saved from its original pen and paper format.  One down and several thousand more to go.

 

Forgotten Cookies

“Why do I always make the dessert?”

“Because you make wonderful desserts and our dinner parties would not be the same without one of your desserts.”

This cookie recipe is a recipe Grandma Beverly used to make.  I don’t remember The Boss ever making this cookie.  When the offspring were young there were always homemade cookies in the house.  Still I’m pretty sure I never had this cookie.  Until yesterday.  I was forced to sample one before dinner.  All I said was

“These things are dangerous!”

  • 2 egg whites
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 6 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • vanilla extract
  • dash of salt
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Add dash of salt to the egg whites.
  3. Beat egg whites until fluffy.
  4. Gradually add sugar and beat until stiff.  Add a few drops of vanilla.
  5. Fold in pecans and chocolate chips.
  6. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  7. Drop by the spoonful onto the cookie sheet.
  8. Turn oven off and leave the cookies in the oven for a minimum of three hours or overnight.
  9. Makes about 30 cookies.

I learned the “forgotten” part of the cookie description is when you put the cookie sheet into the oven then turn the oven off.  Set it and forget it.