Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Cookbooks and memories

Today I got offered a job! It's so nice to know, and not have to do job searching anymore, it has been a big pain. Last night I had a girl's night at my place with a few friends, and it was great! We just sat around and chatted, helped with some wine, but it was so nice to talk with women again. So much understanding that guys just don't get. Like the joy of a "good cry", and how cathartic it can be. In fact, a few friends are joining me tonight to watch The Notebook, as they assure me that it's too sad to watch alone :)

Ate the last of my Mexican wedding cookies that I make a few days ago (or Russian teacakes, if you prefer). Got the recipe form a great old Betty Crocker cookbook. When I was growing up, I learned to cook at my mom's side, along with her trusty Betty Crocker and it's white vinyl cover. So many memories are associated with that great cookbook. I still remember each recipe that I made, especially the times when I tried to make dinner for everyone in the family. It still amazes me how easy going my mom was with me cooking, especially as it could be quite dangerous. In fact, most of the injuries I've had since being a kid have been cooking related. I have nicked, zested and burned my fingers and arms more time than I can count, not to mention just tearing up constantly around onions, and cutting chile peppers and rubbing my eyes like an idiot.

Guess I've always had a fascination with food and color and texture. For a long time I poured my creativity into writing, and then oil painting, but now it's mostly cooking and baking. Of course, it's hard to really paint when you have to worry about a rental deposit, and I do so much technical writing that it's not as much fun anymore. Of course, this blog has been pretty nifty so far, mainly just because it's fun to post memories, thoughts, and feelings somewhere. And I know my friends and family are getting tired of hearing about my obsessions ;)

Anyway, back to the cookbook. So my mom had this great cookbook with so many memories tied to it, and I really wanted a copy. Turns out, they're kinda rare and go for a lot of money on eBay all the time, even without the special white cover (it's usually a red pie cover, even though the cookbook's exactly the same). Being a sweetie, my mom offered me hers, even though she still uses it all the time. After some watching on eBay (and sniping, it felt so wrong!), I finally found it. Well, technically the 11th ed. instead of the 10th ed., but basically the same, especially down to the white vinyl camper. Such a flood of memories, holding that cookbook in my hands, and weird to realize that when I cooked with it as a child, my hands could barely hold it, the book was so large. I have this great picture of me on my fridge of when I was 2 years old, taking hot cookies off a baking sheet with a spatula and potholder. I hope the cookies turned out well :)

Now, I have my own favorite cookbook that I pick up whenever I have a general question ("How to Cook Everything" by Mark Bittman, a fantastic book to learn all about food itself, as well as cooking). In fact, now I have lots of cookbooks with different themes and styles, like all my New Mexico cookbooks (best food ever!), my Indian cookbook, plus all the baking and Alton Brown (best at explaining science behind cooking, really the why to everything). But somehow, the white Betty Crocker will always have a special place in my heart, and I'll probably use it often enough to leave pages spotted with food and notations in the margin. One day far in the future, I'll have my children at my side, learning to cook just as I did from Betty Crocker plus the other cookbooks on my shelf. Seems silly, but I love the thought of passing on my love for cooking from my mom to me and to my children in the same way.


Alex said...

Congrats on the job offer. Isn't it exciting to leave academia and start out in the wide, scary world of corporate America?
I saw your acceptance offer getting on to the FedEx truck today, so it should be on its way by now.
Now it's time to figure out what we'll be baking for you.

Anonymous said...

daddy0 says..
Hope your happy in your new job, and starting to chill after all those hard years of chemistry!
I'm glad that you got the white book you wanted,I was having a hard time finding one.While scoping my e-mail today I noticed a food section you may want to check out,go to bhg.com they have
a lot of yummy things for you to try out.Wish you were here to have some of my roasted pork sirloin and green chile.Hugs and love to you and K. digging dirt here

mom said...


Some of my favorite memories were cooking with you. I guess it never seemed dangerous at the time, but now that you mention it....
I am so happy that you survived it. You have become a better cook than me, you have such a passion for it. Througout your life you have had many different passions. As a parent it is rewarding and fun to watch.
Hope you never loose your zest for life, it is contagious.

Love you,

kathleen from Hudson said...

Hey Becky, finally got a chance to see your blog. Cool! A book you might be interested in (I really love it because it answers all my and my kids' questions at the dinner table) is
On Food and Cooking: The Science and Lore of the Kitchen by Harold J. McGee. Check it out of the library and then you'll probably want your own copy.