A recipe has no soul. You, as the cook, must bring soul to the recipe. ~ Thomas Keller
Earlier in the week, I promised to share at least one of my favorite recipes. But it also comes with a story, as all the best recipes always do.
My mother was an excellent cook. As a minister’s wife, and then a farm wife, she collected and tested recipes for nearly all of her adult life. Her kids grew up helping in the kitchen from the time we could sit on the counter and stir without making too large a mess of things. Whether a boy or girl didn’t matter, she prided herself on raising kids who were adept in the kitchen and had a decent repertoire of recipes well in hand by the time they went to college.
But during my freshman year of high school, my mom got sick. Sick enough that the doctor ordered bed rest, which for Mom translated into simply taking it easy around the house and not really full-time in bed. She tried to behave, in her own fashion. And in that attempt, she decided to try to do all the things around the house that she had “been meaning to do when she got the time.” She had it now, she would kid, so the project list came out. Organize the family slides, if not the photos. Collect her writings and see what she could do with them. And write a cookbook, so her kids would have all of her best recipes in one spot.Except that last project took a bit of work, for she was not about to put a bad recipe in the book. Great idea for all the trusted, tried-and-true recipes. But what of all those clipped ones, cut-out slips, ones from friends, and ones she couldn’t remember if she had tried or not? You guessed it. She tried them. All of them. On us. The family became her taste-tester guinea pigs for all of those recipes that may, or may not, work out. Then, and only then, would the ones she approved of make it into her cookbook. There were some odd colored ones, some less-than-yummy ones, and, honestly, some really, really — can I say REALLY — bad ones.
But there were also a lot of truly excellent ones. Ones where, like the quote above says, the cook brought her soul to the recipe. Ones you can go to time and time again, and they work. Those, not surprisingly, are my favorites. And not just mine. I’ve (occasionally) shared a few of my mom’s best ones with close friends, and they most often come back with it added to their own file of favorite recipes.
So today I’ll share two with you – family favorites from my mom’s cookbook. Ones she made with soul.
No Peek Chicken (One of my mom’s – and my- favorite recipes)
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of celery soup
1 ½ cups quick cooking rice
1 chicken (cup up) or 1-2 lbs. chicken breasts or chicken thighs
1 package Lipton Dry onion Soup mix
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Spray deep 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray.
Mix soups and rice together and put in bottom of baking dish. Place chicken pieces on top and sprinkle onion soup mix over top. Cover securely with aluminum foil. Bake at 325 degrees for 2 ½ hours – DO NOT PEEK! [that’s the important part – do not peek!]The second recipe I’ll share via picture from her cookbook, since it shows how she would include little sketches and quotations mixed in with her recipes along the way. This apple cake recipe is fantastic, and a family favorite, although I never understood why it had pudding in the title…. there’s nothing really pudding-y about it! And the sauce is just awesome! It makes enough to have extra, which goes great over ice cream, too.
Let me know if you give them a try! If you do, I hope you enjoy them as much as my family has over the years.
Care to share your favorite recipe?