Mom’s recipe boxes
Both my parents were passionate, inventive, inquisitive, and creative cooks. They were foodies before foodie was coined in the lexicon. Shopping for food, especially around various holidays, could turn into a citywide adventure.
I remember the odors of old school Italian delis with sawdust on the floors. The cured meats and sausages hanging over the counters and the pungent smell of various spices in barrels.
Since both of my parents worked, weekends were devoted to cooking. There would be large pots of soups or sauce (zucco), maybe a roast or ham, and other things that could be reheated or taken for lunch.
Carry-out in our home was what you carried out of the ice box and heated.
My father made his own Italian sausage every fall. He would scour his friends and acquaintances in the meat world for the best prices on cases of bone in pork butts or shoulders. Depending on how many pounds he was giving to other relatives, we could be making 100 or more pounds of sausage in an afternoon.
My mother died two years ago. Rummaging through some boxes, I came across her cookbooks and recipe boxes, along with some food magazines she saved. My mother had cookbooks for many ethnic cuisines. Her recipe collection is just as varied. Most of the recipes are from newspapers and many are delicate to handle.
After I sort and catalog them, it will be time to create some of the dishes. I do remember her chocolate cake. The recipe used to be printed on the Hershey Cocoa cans along with the frosting. Mom was a prolific baker and she felt this was the best chocolate cake recipe bar none.
In the 1970s, the Chicago Tribune Magazine had the menu and recipes for the New Year’s Eve dinner at the Pump Room. Dad being dad decided to replicate it for the occasion, right down to the Cafe Diablo. That is missing from the collection and I wish I had it. It was a fabulous meal.
For people of my generation, some of our fondest memories are of food. It could be one thing, like a favorite treat, or a lifetime of food tastes and smells.
Our parents cooked. Dinner was at a set time. We ate together and talked. That is what families are supposed to do.
We did not have distractions like smartphones, tablets, laptops, or the incessant idiot box. The television was in its own room away from the dinner table.
My father would have taken a smartphone from someone and tossed it away or destroyed it. Dinner was for eating and talking. Not silly distractions like tweeting, Facebooking, texting, sexting, or gaming.
Eating was a sacred time for the family to be together, enjoy the food, and talk to each other.
I am the same way. Old school. No electronic junk is allowed at my table. If you do not like it, leave. I could care less about your pathetic over sensitive feelings. You will never be invited back to my table again.
Sharing food is sharing love. Anything that interferes with that is an abomination.