Good Lookin’! by
Elizabeth Bussey Sowdal
Whatcha Got Cookin’?
am not a snob. I am not a snob when it comes to my clothes, my music, my favorite
authors, my perfume, my home (witness The Siding), or my shoes. I am not a snob
when it comes to my food either. My favorite sandwich is sweet onion, Miracle
Whip and salt on white bread. Yum, yum! I heard a lady on the radio the other
day who tasted somebody’s pumpkin and apple pie (together in the same pan! What
is the world coming to?) and she said, "Ahhh! The pumpkin whispers." I think she
sounded just a little snobbish. My opinion. |
My children are unanimous
in their opinion that Dad is the better cook. They are wrong. Dad just cares what
he eats. I don’t. I would happily live on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and
Cheetos every day life except for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the Fourth of July.
And it was cooking for Thanksgiving that got me thinking.
to me as I was mixing up my famous sweet potatoes with pineapple and a drizzle
of honey, that cookbooks are revelatory. What I mean is that the cookbook you
use most often may tell the world something interesting about you. Me? Fanny Farmer’s.
Why? Because everything in it is good. It is not hard to follow. You do not have
to send away for the ingredients. Fanny does not care if you use rubbed sage or
ground sage. I think if you asked Fanny what the difference was she would raise
an eyebrow and tell you to "get a life."
Oh sure, if you want to cook
up a nice tender blowfish (alert! This is not a joke!) or some porcupine (I am
dead serious!), or a nice Pot-au-Feu, if the index entry "Nori, see Laver" means
something to you, then you want The Joy of Cooking. I don’t know for sure, but
I would guess that someone who does use The Joy of Cooking doesn’t especially
care for onion sandwiches. They are probably the kind of person who changes their
pajamas every night and who does not list as one of their hobbies "leaving the
polish on my toenails alone so I can see how fast they grow." Because in the circles
in which I run, round and round and round, I do not know anyone who uses The Joy
of Cooking. I know lots of people who own it, but nobody who uses it.
How about someone who uses Southern Living Five Star Recipes? Call me a bigot,
but what comes to mind for me is either a five foot two inch, 95 lb. debutante,
or a very, very chubby guy who is quite happy as he is and knows what is good.
And likes onion sandwiches. I am not five foot two and only one of my thighs weighs
95 lbs. But I like it. For special occasions. The best thing in the world is their
Carmel Soaked French Toast. If I got to pick how I was going to die, it would
be drowning in a vat of this manna. Oh baby, oh yeah!
I have some other
favorite cookbooks. One is called Sahtein and is hard but not impossible to find.
It is Middle Eastern recipes and they are wonderful. My other favorite cookbook
is one my mother gave me long years ago. I doubt you can find it now. It is called
Pioneer Cookery (I think. The cover on mine is missing.). It was published in
1978 by Linda Kennedy Rosser and everything in it is wonderful. It has recipes
from Oklahomans and their mothers and grandmothers and great-grandmothers. Everything
from Faddle Soup to Poor Man’s Pie to Peppernut Cookies. When I cook anything
from it – and I do whenever I am called upon to perform – I feel the presence
of all my ancestors around me.
My first mother-in-law made all the bread
that her family ate. When she was mixing the dough she made the sign of the Cross
in the flour and said a prayer. I loved that! She was blessing the bread and blessing
her labor and praying for the health and well being of her family. Cooking was
a sacrament. Is a sacrament. Whichever cookbook you use, however plain or fancy
your meals are, you are giving your family strength, and nourishment and health.
All joking aside, what is finer than that?