I got a wonderful box of goodies in the mail yesterday which seemed apropos as the snowflake craziness took place ALL day yesterday (your dry sense of humour Mother Nature…well I am not laughing). In the box was nostalgia, taking me back to the warmth and goodness of down home cooking. Christmas cake. Can you believe it? Dark coloured Christmas cake. Mmmmm. Smack my lips. Finger lickin’ good (sorry… that’s KFC tasty line). I have not had this cake since…forever. Years for sure.
My sister, bless her heart, sent it by mail coupled with 2 pair of long woolly reading socks (for me and my youngest daughter who by the way put them on, and me too), tuna for the cats and chewy stick for my dog. Her thoughtfulness so made my day. I l-o-v-e Christmas cake but not the light coloured or fruity looking fruit cake kind …only dark. It was her attempt…nailed it sister…at making it from mom’s old recipe and since she has had time off. Oh happy day. All for me. Not sharing.
Down home cooking. How to describe it? Well for me, it’s my mom. There is nothing like mom’s home cooking (or my dad’s for that matter). I can feel my mouth water as I think of all the tasty meals that filled our table over the years; never went without for sure. Mom made everything taste good or at least for me and could do it on a dime, literally. There are so many images that come to mind that I have attempted to try with my own family but sadly for the most part did/does not quite cut it. In truth, like her hug there is nothing mom’s cooking.
Warm rice pudding; rice so soft (never mushy), creamy rich, filled with raisins and then sprinkled with cinnamon. Swiss steak melting in your mouth after a day of slow cooking…a bit of salt and ketchup to top it off (not an HP or horseradish girl). Tuna casserole, chunks of cooked potatoes with mushroom soup and peas (oh my brother did not like them peas) baked together in the electric fry pan. Popcorn on the stove, fluffy and flavourful with just the right amount oil and salt – NEVER burnt. How mom? I got the same pot, oil, popcorn, brown paper bag for popped corn to shake in and get rid of excess oil even. Is in the wrist? What did you do?
And your fish & chips. Awww the chips (The Good); Grrr the fish (the bad and the ugly). My dad’s dollar fries – thinly sliced real potatoes, circular shaped; then deep fried, laying them flat on a cookie sheet after frying, to salt them. Almost like a potato chip. Delicious. Anyway It’s a good thing dad created dollar fries because we always had fresh fish with it. You can’t have fries without fish. (Oh you can and I do. Just trying to find the best french fries place still). Anyhoo…unfortunately my dad being a dye hard fisherman of the Maitland River – rainbow trout, brown trout, bass, pike (or whatever else he could catch), fish was on the menu. LOTS and LOTS. Eew. Fishy fish taste…not for me. But fish we would have and let’s face it, it was free. Thankfully back then my mom took pity on me and got me fish sticks to eat. Highliner all the way.
Yes, I do realize I live on PEI where seafood is the bomb. Just so you know, I have stepped up from fish sticks to halibut or haddock & chips…Pigeon Coop (closed for good, too bad), Go Fish Eatery, Sout’West, and Island Pub near by. FANTASTIC.
Now for the piece de resistance. Thin crust pizza. Mom and dad’s pizza would beat any pizza I have had over the years. Not a fan of stuffed, thick, fluffy, greasy pizza. Folks had the dough, the toppings, the sauces, the seasonings down to a science…a delicious flavourful, very palatable yummy pizza. Like the varieties you get at any most pizza places…I had it at Mom and Dads Home Pizzeria long before. Who would have thought? Miss them. FYI: Piatto’s on PEI kind of close.
The funny and maybe sad thing is I am not a real big fan of cooking per se. Of course I have cooked many a meal and maybe my family would say “mom you know how”. Yes I know how to cook. That is true. I can make a mean turkey or roast beef dinner with all the trimmings…kind of got that down to a science. Do I love it? Do I see it as cathartic and calming? Bleh. I am no Master Chef, Iron Chef, French Chef wannabe chef material at all. Do not sign me up. My heart races even now when I hear my daughter, ‘what’s for dinner?’
Fortunately I have family and friends who are star quality to down home cooking and have invited me to their table or shared at mine. My girls know that my most special time is after meal is prepared, placed on table, we sit around the dining kitchen table together. Food spread in bounty, we bow our heads in thanksgiving.
So what is the recipe for down home cooking. 2 cups of love, 1-6 hands to prepare, 2 tbsp of comfort, a pinch of humbleness, 3 stalks of togetherness, stir gently with kindness, sprinkle with grace, pour into a baking sheet of daily life, heat for 1 hour with all ills of daily life, allow to sit with aroma of hope, turn onto a plate of cheerfulness, garnish with tears and laughter. Down home cooking…it takes a bit time but nothing like it. Thanks mom and dad (and my sister for a delicious Christmas cake surprise).
Bon appetit. Amen.
Let us pray for those in need today and for those whose hands have prepared this meal.