Saturday, August 11, 2007

Empty nest cooking~

Going through the remaining items in my parent's house, which is being cleaned for sale, I came across items the auctioneer left behind, things that wouldn't sell, things slated for the dump.

I opened a manila envelope and spilled out a pile of recipes, most copied on index cards in my mother's or father's handwriting, some clipped from "Good Housekeeping," and "Redbook" and pasted to the cards.

Sometime after my brother and I married and left home, my parents became real people. Among other things, they started cooking.

We were always well fed, but by cooking, I mean more than:

~beans and franks with brown bread from a can on Saturday night

~burgers that smoked up the kitchen, boiled potatoes and cooked frozen peas that were wrinkly

~spaghetti with sauce made from a can of tomato paste, a can of water and Spatini sauce mix

~and, horror of horrors, calves' liver-- for the vitamin A.

My parents apparently waited until they were empty nesters to fuss in the kitchen and eat in style.

They began cooking things like Stir-Fried Scallops with Lychees. What the heck are lychees? According to the recipe, they come in a 16-ounce can and must be drained.

In addition to scallops cut in half horizontally (Which way is horizontal on a scallop?), the recipe calls for Chinese pea pods (remove stem and stings on both edges) and ginger root (cut lengthwise into paper thin slices, then again into very thin strips).

This sounds fussier than preparing an art lesson for first graders.

These are a few titles of the food they prepared for themselves when living the childless life:

~Wild Rice Pecan Casserole (lots of chopping and dicing)

~Cayenne pepper wafers (with a half pound of gruyere cheese)

~Boneless Chicken Breast Bake (with a half cup of sherry)

~Oyster Stew

~Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo (with my mother's note: "excellent if you have the time. She'd crossed out the optimistic prep time of ten minutes and written two hours in its place.)

I won't even mention the desserts, one of which my mother has labeled "scrumptious." In her defense she made Whoopee Pies, cookies and cakes and let me lick the bowl.

I also came across a card labeled "Ruthie's Graham Bread." I vaguely remember my bread baking stage. I used to bring loaves of homemade bread to family get-togethers. The graham bread must have been good to have made my parent's recipe file.

Maybe when my nest empties this fall I'll bake bread again, and maybe try some of the other recipes, but I have no idea where to get lychees.

litchi (also lychee or lichee)
1 a small rounded fruit with sweet white scented flesh, a large central stone, and a thin rough skin. Also called litchi nut when dried.


Janice Thomson said...

It sounds like fun Ruth. We never seem to have time to create fancy meals when raising kids and some really do require a lot of preparation.
I never acquired a taste for lychee fruit though I find it interesting to paint and to look at. But who knows maybe in a recipe they would be great!
Save some homemade bread for me please - oh I can smell it now...

Carter said...

I'll have you know, lovely lady, that spaghetti sauce made with canned tomato sauce, mushrooms, hamburger meat, and Spatini is delcious! It's quick, too, which is a consideration.

And I can cook calves liver (or beef) Tuscany style that even you would like.

I'll send you my homemade recipe book, complete with notes, etc.

Ruth D~ said...

Janice~ If you have painted Lychee fruit, I'd love to see. If not, get going, girl. I had never heard of it, but it is unique looking.

Chef Carter~ Why does it not surprise me that you have a homemade cookbook with notated recipes? :>)

Actually, I have one of my own. Surprised? I just never cook any of the recipes any more.

I'll reserve judgement on the beef liver until I taste it. That and asparagus I could never quite manage to like. Chicken liver and the tips of asparagus . . . maybe.

And I wasn't complaining about Spatini which with ground beef is way better than any bottled sauce. Still, scallops with lychees no sooner had we left home?

Carter said...

I forgot to mention--if you're cooking for two, use only half the little envelope of Spatini.

I've seen lychee around, but never tried it. Scallops I find dull, horizontal or vertical. But cut the poor parents some slack--they needed to relax after putting up with you for so long. :-)

I'd love to see your cookbook.

Ruth D~ said...

I do identify with their new found lease on life. :>)

I can't find Spatini any more.

Josie said...

Omigosh, what a find...! Maybe your parents didn't think the children would like "fancy" dishes, so they cooked your plainer food, but it sounded nutritious anyway. You'll have to try out some of their recipes.