Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Art of Ratatouille

So, I have been working on getting tons of recipes from my childhood. It is my goal this year to create a recipe book for my family with all sorts of recipes from our days as children. This project has required a lot of time searching through my mom's recipe box, as well as quizzing my parents about how they make different dishes that we commonly eat or ate as children. Here is an excerpt from a classic conversation:

Me: So, where would I find the recipe for stroganoff?

Mom: What? There is no recipe. You just make it.

Me (bewildered that I have eaten it so many times tasting the same): So... how do you make it?

Mom: You brown some hamburger with onion, and add cream of mushroom soup, and ... sour cream?

Dad: Yes, sour cream. And a can of mushrooms.

Me (wow, that's it?): So, what are the quantities here?

Mom: I don't know. You just make it. However much.

Me (Guh?): However much? How do I know the ratios?

Mom: You just add it until it looks good.

Me (having no concept of ratios): Wait. So... are we talking for every cup of cream of mushroom, there is a cup of sour cream?

Mom: No, it's more like a large spoonful of sour cream for a can of cream of mushroom. If it doesn't look good, then add more.

Me (giving up): Okay...
So... how do you make that goulash pasta?

Mom: Cook hamburger with onions.

Dad: And green peppers. And you'll want to cook it in this order: first, the green peppers, then the onion, then the hamburger. But if you don't have time, just put them all in at the same time. You don't have much time when you're cooking for seven kids.

Mom: You should also be cooking the macaroni. And don't forget the can of tomato sauce and corn.

Me (still not knowing ratios): So wait. First the green peppers, then the onions, then the hamburger. Then you add a can of tomato sauce and corn. How much corn? Frozen or canned?

Dad: This is like ratatouille. You just throw it all in.

Mom: You just adjust. If it's dry, you add more tomato sauce. It varies.

Me (with bewildered look on face): ??????

Dad (realizing that I need more help): With about a cup of uncooked macaroni, you'll probably use a can of tomato sauce.

Mom (also catching on to my helplessness): What size can?

Dad: Eight ounces.

Me (writing it all down): So, how much corn?

Dad: About a half a can. And then you add about a teaspoon of chili powder.

Me: Is that it?

Dad: And add some salt and pepper.

Me: How much?

Dad (with a grin): To taste.

Me (resigning): Gotcha.


Anonymous said...

I love this post. Very entertaining.

Also, I can remember the time my mom said she'd failed as a mother when I asked how to make a white sauce, or maybe it was how to make jell-o, or something ridiculous like that.

Cardine said...

I'm pretty sure that I've asked how to make Jell-O before. Hee hee hee. Also, thanks for the recipes you've given me. I found a few of them when I was going through my recipe box.

julie said...

I love this post, too. It sounded a lot like the conversation I had with my mom once about how to make her sloppy joes. And the one when I tried to learn how to make her clam chowder.

I think a family cookbook with childhood recipes is a great idea!

I'd have to look at a recipe to make a white sauce. I mean, I know what's in it, but I've only ever made it once, so I don't remember the ratio of ingredients. That's what recipes are for. :)

Cardine said...

Julie - I was conspicuously missing a recipe from you when I went through my box. I can't remember if it's because you're not a recipe sharer or what. I'm just sayin'. Hint, hint. But anyway, this is probably the most stupid question yet:

What in THE world is white sauce? Are we talking about Alfredo? Or is it another name for homemade cream of _____ soup?

Mellissa said...

Your parents sound exactly like my mom with their throw-it-all-in-there attitude. I am so recipe-oriented it's not even funny! Good luck with the recipe book. How fun for you and your siblings.

Banana said...

Classic, very classic. I loved it! No wonder I cook the way I do.

Cash said...

Just wait until you ask them for a recipe they don't even remember ever making. It's happened to me before.

Cardine said...

Cash - It's happened to me before, too. But don't worry. I think they remember all of them now. I asked them about that pasta recipe. You know... that pasta that I hate, and they came up with answers like unto this post.

Also... any requests from my siblings? Are there any recipes that you guys want?

Cardine said...

ps I even got the "Aunt Carol's Cheese Ball recipe!"

Cash said...

Aunt Carol's cheeseball is classic, but I like Mom's more. Did you get that recipe? And what about Mom's raisin pie recipe? Or her holiday roll recipe?

Cardine said...

Check. Yep. And I gotcha!

dub said...

You need to include the Stollen recipe, of course. I would like to be able to take Stollen to the "local" cousins for Christmas twenty years from now. I always thought Mom learned that one on her mission, but she told me a few years ago that it's not a mission recipe. Hmm.

What about the canned pears and mayonnaise recipe? (Or was it Miracle Whip...?) That's gotta be included in the recipe book. Don't forget the finely grated cheese on top!

dub said...

P.S. This is a big project. Do you need any help?

Tino said...

You need to add the Boxcar Children and Encyclopedia Brown series to your poll, Cardine.

Dana Cheryl said...

Wow! This is a huge project. Are you giving all your sibling a recipe book for Christmas?

I was never taught to cook using measuring instruments so I have to guess when I give people recipes. I think that's just part of being from the hills though. :)

Cash said...

If you want help with this project, Cardine, I volunteer to make some of the dishes and photograph them so the recipe book will have pictures.

Cardine said...

dub - I have the stollen recipe. Yay!

The pear one is a good idea. I forgot about that one because it's so obvious how to make it. Haha!

And yeah, I'll send out an e-mail to all of the siblings for some help when I get a minute.

Tino - Yes, you are correct. I should have added those. Stupid wikipedia didn't have them on the list I looked at for ideas! And I even thought about the Boxcar Children but forgot about it when I typed it up. D'oh! (Thanks for the comment.)

Dana - Yeah, it's a big project, but I think I'm pretty close to being done gathering the recipes. Glad that you're an awesome cook that can just throw it together!

Cash - Sounds good. I think I'll take you up on it. Stay tuned for an e-mail. Eventually.

tearese said...

Thats how Joseph cooks too. Except, he can't ever remember what he did, so it tastes different every time!

warnser said...

That sounds just like our recipes!

julie said...

Cardine, I'm not anti-sharing, I'm just scatterbrained. I will get you some of my favorite recipes, I promise!

White sauce is a foundation sauce, and alfredo sauce usually comes from it. It is not cream of ____ soup. :) It is made from flour, butter, and milk; though I don't know the exact ratio of each. My roommate made it last night as the base of her macaroni and cheese.

And, it isn't a stupid question. There are lots of things I don't know about cooking!

Wendy said...

FUN POST!! Finding out recipes can be a bit hard if people aren't specific enough with their cooking. I like the family recipe book idea though.

Dana Cheryl said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dana Cheryl said...

Oh man I accidental hit the delete button. That's what I get for trying to talk and type at the same time. lol.

Don't give me too much credit for my cooking skills. I throw out about two meals per week. Partly because I try several new recipes each month and also because I did something wrong to it. :)

Very, very neat idea though! Ya'll will treasure this forever.

Banana said...

Cardine, what is your recipe for cornbread muffins? You know, the one where you put it in a plastic (microwave) cupcake holder and bake it in the oven.

Be sure to save a space for my desperation lunch sandwich. Peanut butter, honey, chocolate chips and raisins. You need to offer it to the same friend over and over so that she thinks you are very strange.

Let's also ask Dub for her famous cocoa cupcakes with peppermint icing recipe. Don't forget to double it!

Banana said...

Seriously, Dad used to make Borscht. Should I see if I can get his recipe?

Cardine said...

Julie - I will be sure to get a recipe from you soon. Thanks for explaining white sauce to me.

Dana - One of these days, we need to have a cooking party. When you get better.

Banana - I am pretty sure that I made the cocoa cupcakes. In fact, I'm pretty sure that most of the funny kitchen stories are based on a true event from my life. Also, sure, get his borscht recipe.

Cash said...

Cardine, you and I made the infamous cocoa cupcakes together. Remember, we got that recipe from your oh-so-cool Disney cookbook? They were Grumpy cupcakes. They had too much cocoa and they were vile. Chris was the only other person who would eat them. But, really, when he was 18 he would eat almost anything.