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www.zidao.com Apprentice harmonizer, for sheer fun. Journeywoman writer, for work and pleasure. Starting point was Iowa, current stopping point on this journey is Switzerland, with frequent pauses around the world to watch and listen to the crowd, and occasionally make comments.

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Sunday, August 20, 2006

Stepping stone recipes, part 2

“Recipes” was an item I added to my to do list some time ago when I realized it would be easier to share chocolate chip cookies recipes if they were on the computer, rather than hand-written. I did about five key recipes, and then the task began to lurk on the list. There was never an urgent reason to finish the job.

The job jumped to the top of the list when our son sent an e-mail from China to say he needed a couple recipes, quickly, so he could prepare a Swiss meal in exchange for Chinese cooking lessons.

I began to look through my old recipe cards. What I saw was baffling: recipes I must once have decided sounded good, that I now can't imagine making. The orange and yellow plastic containers that once held the recipes on index cards are long gone as are the rubber bands that held the piles of cards together afterwards. The basket the recipes sat in for a while has been commandeered for some other purpose. My handwriting has changed – it is less upright, with fewer loops and lacey bits. It stared back at me, a sign of the past that rubs the present the wrong way.

The time had come to take action but I was stumped: why had I saved some of these recipes?

The first recipe I ever tried was one of my own invention. It was not saved. I’d watched my mother bake and cook and it seemed to me that the key to turning out lovely food was to dump many things into the mixing bowl. I told my parents I was preparing a meal for them. I had received red bowls, part of a set of modern plastic childsize dinnerware, for Christmas. I would serve the wonderful meal in these.

I pulled off the shelves everything I could reach: flour, sugar, cereal, raisins, oatmeal flakes, baking powder. I added several things from the fridge (the word refrigerator joined my vocabulary years later). Into the mixing bowl went margarine and milk, but not orange juice since we made this from frozen concentrate just before we drank it. I turned on the electric blender, spooned the mix into the cheerful red bowls, and with a flourish served my parents. My older sister Tara, who had come into the kitchen a couple times, refused to come out of her room and try it.

The recipe was never given a name and was never mentioned after that day, but it had one redeeming feature: it taught me to see the difference between adults praising you out of politeness and kindness and adults praising you because you deserve it. My parents were very kind and made sure my feelings were not hurt. They found something good in what I’d done: I’d been creative. They also made sure I did not think I should repeat the effort, or consider myself a budding gourmet chef.

Truth is not always easy to swallow.

Recipe rejected: Dr. Pepper pecans (no image available), c. 1975

1 cup pecans
1/2 can Dr. Pepper
1 T curry powder

Put the pecans in a skillet, pour the soft drink over them and shake over high heat until the liquid is evaporated. Take off the stove and sprinkle with curry powder. Serve as appetizers.


Truthfully, a recipe I thought sounded good in 1974, never made, that I don't think I would care to try today. This card was thrown out this week.

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