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.