Monday, January 28, 2008

Beat the Egg Whites into WHAT?

THE LANGUAGE OF RECIPES
I read a lot of recipes this weekend--in magazines and in My Ancient Family Recipe Boxes. While My Ancient Family Recipe Box recipes have some problems, I think I prefer them to the ones I read in magazines:

1) From a magazine: "Beat the egg whites into voluptuousness." Huh? You used to "Beat egg whites until stiff" or "Beat egg whites until they form stiff peaks." I do not think I have ever met a voluptuous egg white. I beat them until they loll about bosomily in a negligee eating bonbons?
2) The directions for some recipes are eight paragraphs long. This is seven paragraphs too many.
3) In contrast, the recipes in My Ancient Family Recipe Boxes assume the cook already knows how to make the dish--key ingredients are often left out, many give NO directions, sometimes the oven temperature is not specified. Sometimes this works, sometimes not so much.

SOME RECIPES OF NOTE
Take a gander at these recipes from My Ancient Family Recipe Boxes. You will detect a strong flavor of Depression-era cooking (i.e., eggless, butterless, milkless--possibly features grasses and bark). Please note: "Rubber donuts" do not include rubber; they are called this because they flip themselves over (BOUNCE!) when they're frying (I'd stand far back during this process, holding a fire extinguisher, if I were you). The apple crisp recipe on the bottom meets my gold standard for directions. Short, simple, to the point. WHAT I MADE THIS WEEKEND
1) Far Left: "Chow Mein Chewies." Easiest cookie ever. Yes, it DOES look kind of gross (if you closed your eyes, you'd like it right away). I assure you, it's a wee symphony of salty cashews and sweet, sweet chocolate.
2) In the Middle: George Washington Hats. The George Washington Hat on the top turned out pretty well. I put too much jam into the one on the bottom, so we'll just call it a Jam Stripey. What the hell.
3) Far Right: A basic tollhouse cookie on the top; a freakish tollhouse cookie on the bottom. The last batch all turned out like the ones on the bottom. They're very good, but I think I inadvertently flattened them out by adding too much baking soda. So, we'll just call them: "Tollhouse Lacies." See how that works?

This is Step One of many steps in the George Washington Hat Experience (a recipe that leaves out flour amounts, measurements, and oven temperature--fortunately, I was a ninja at making these when I was nine and I remember):
BASEMENT BUREAU DRAWER FINDS
I loved hearing about what other people found in places they moved into. Here are photos of the stuff I found. The elderly woman made rugs. I think I'll resist the impulse to make a rug, too. That just smacks of the plot of a bad Lifetime movie called "The Haunting of Sparkle Plenty" in which a frazzled heroine (who formerly played a role on Beverly Hills 90210) starts making rugs, gets visited by the restless spirit of the old lady who has a secret beyond the grave, and starts spooking around wearing the old lady's clothes and trying to solve the mystery. Not a good idea.

BUREAU!
GRANDMA STUFF!
PRETTY FAN!
DAINTY AS YOU WANNA BE!
SOMETIMES A GREAT NOTION!
STITCH BLUEPRINTS AND THREAD!WILDFLOWER SAMPLER PROVIDES A NEW NICKNAME FOR LILY--ZEPHYR LILY! IF I TRY TO MAKE THIS RUG, I'LL BECOME A LIFETIME MOVIE!
(Anyone left? Anyone still here? Who's snoring? Who just threw that spitball?)