Home - is where I want to be / But I guess I'm already there /I come home -
she lifted up her wings /
Guess that this must be the place...
- Talking Heads, "Naive Melody"

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

30 Foods Meme - Day 1

I have never done one of these meme things, but this one sounds like fun, and the first one elicits a very easy response. I will take a shot at playing along.
What is the best recipe that a parent taught you to make?
There are different ways one could take that. My mother is not one of nature's cooks (my father is not in this picture at all). She kept us fed on a tight budget, and my childhood palate was perfectly all right with macaroni and cheese, hot dogs, and things based on Cream of X soup. Vegetables were frozen, garlic was powdered, and going out to eat meant Perkins. Her own parents ate much the same way. It's the way a lot of Americans eat. It wasn't until I reached adulthood that I started to realize what a world of food there was (perhaps ironically, due to a cookbook she got me when D* and I first moved in together); I reached college without ever having eaten Chinese food, without having had real butter, and I still remember picking up a bunch of fresh asparagus for the first time.

So when it comes to recipes that a parent taught me to make, well, there's a pretty slim selection. If anything, it's actually gone in the other direction; my mom has recently started learning to cook because she's become vegetarian, and occasionally wants to cook for others, which means something other than frozen cheese pizzas. Some of these dishes have reached my grandparents' table, which has acquired more dietary restrictions as they age.

I have acquired a couple of recipes from my in-laws, but nothing that really fits the bill here. Which leaves me with only one thing, something we made straight through my childhood, in all of the apartments and houses we lived in, through good times and (lots of) bad. I made it for my college roommates. I still make it in exactly the same way.

The Toll House cookie. I know that small fortunes have been invested in a search for the perfect cookie, and entire books have been written on the topic. As far as I'm concerned, that money has all been wasted. There is no better chocolate chip cookie. I make them big, and underbake them slightly so they're chewy all through, and there is nothing out there that will ever take their place. I know the recipe by heart.

2 1/4 c all-purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 c butter, softened*
3/4 c sugar
3/4 brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 package chocolate chips**

1. Preheat the oven to 375.
2. Mix the dry ingredients together.
3. Cream the butter with the two sugars.
4. Add the eggs and beat until well incorporated.
5. Mix in the vanilla.
6. Mix in the dry ingredients slowly, just until incorporated.
7. Mix in the chips.
8. Drop onto a cookie sheet in large spoonfuls. Bake anywhere from 9-12 minutes, depending on how big they are and how you like the edges done.
9. Allow to cook on the sheet for a few minutes, then remove to a rack to finish cooling.

* I use salted butter, but stick to something like Land O Lakes, which has relatively mild salt content. For regular table use I prefer Kate's of Maine and Kerrygold, but those are too salty for cookies.

** I don't hold with walnuts in chocolate chip cookies, but if you do, go right ahead.

So there you have it, my very first meme.

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