Stevens Says: A Little of This, a Dash of That
Someone once said, “I taught him everything he knows but not everything I know.” That seems to apply to me and my cooking skills.
My mother taught me to cook. My education was broadened by my aunts and some neighbors; I owe whatever modest ability I have to them. I must say though that they did not teach me everything they knew and therein lies the hangup.
None of the dishes I’ve cooked over the years, while passable, didn’t taste like those that mother made. I determined along the way that the reason was simple: I had no recipe because my teachers had none to offer.
Take for example something jotted down that I found in a recipe box filled mostly with cut out recipes from the newspapers. “Pickles” was the heading and it began: “One basket of pickles”. Well, baskets come in different sizes so do I buy a bushel or a small basket? Two lines down: “One box pickling spices”. Okay, is that the one pound size, five pound or the smallest box? See, it was all open to interpretation.
The bottom line is that the cooks who schooled me never wrote anything down using instead the pinch of this and dash of that formula. While much less complicated for them it has left me with a gaping hole in my culinary studies. I can no longer accurately claim that my soup or lasagna or roasted chicken is just like the kind mother used to make rather it is the kind Mike makes. Which isn’t too bad, all things considered.
I’ll tell you, though, I wish I could make me a pot of good old beet soup one of these days. If only they’d taught me how, including the pinches of this and that.