Tuesday, November 1, 2011

An Old Family Recipe

I rarely follow a recipe exactly.  There is usually something in the recipe that I don’t have or I don’t like, so I substitute this for that.  Leave something out.  Add something.  I don’t think of cooking as a science.  I think of it as just another creative outlet.  There are some recipes out there that have insane flavor and food combinations.  Someone had to make those up.  Someone had to say, “Hmm... I wonder what would happen if I mixed this with that?” Bam! A recipe is created for people like me to take and make subtle changes and adjustments, so that I can make it my own.
I was making a casserole last night. 
I have made it a few times.  It seems to go over very well. Justin loves it.  Yes, I have made some changes.   I add cheese into the mixture, and put some on top towards the end of its time in the oven.  I also cook the chicken entirely before mixing it altogether.  For some reason, raw chicken scares me.  And I am worried about it not getting done enough in a casserole.  I know, I am a bit crazy.  But it gives me a chance to flavor the chicken, so it adds a little punch to the recipe.  While I was in the kitchen making this recipe and singing along to the Randy Travis record, a thought crossed my mind.  What will my recipe be? 
Every cook I know is known for a specific recipe.  They may be an excellent cook and cook all things wonderfully, but they are usually known for one recipe in particular.  For example, Justin’s Aunt Frances is known for her red velvet cake.  My dad is known for his biscuits.  No one makes biscuits like my dad.  I will always associate the best mash potatoes of my life with Ms. Virginia.  And I would almost kill for Sis. Barbara’s chocolate cake.  You get the idea.
At my bridal showers, I requested each guest bring me a recipe: one of their favorites, the one that they are known for. This was such a great idea.  I have some great recipes.  It was actually just a secret ploy to get Aunt Frances’s red velvet cake recipe.  (Insert evil laugh here).  Of all the recipes that I have gotten, there are two that I have yet to figure out.
My Mom’s Buttermilk Chicken.  If you have never had this, then it is going to be hard to explain.  It baked chicken with goop (some sort of buttermilk, flour, cream of something soup mixture) on top served with mash potatoes or rice.  It is amazing.  I have tried to recreate it, and I ended up buttermilk soup.  I need help, Mom.
Terri’s Chicken Crackheads.  There were originally named Chicken Croquettes, but Justin called them Crackheads and the name stuck.  They are similar to salmon croquettes.  I know the ingredients: Chicken, cheese, flour, teriyaki sauce, egg.  I know that they are fried.  But I cannot recreate them.  I have tried a couple times, and all I end up with is chicken biscuit things.  I need help, Terri.
The point is... I will probably never be able to make Buttermilk Chicken like my mom.   Or a red velvet cake like Aunt Frances.  My attempts will be good, but not exactly like “mama” made it.
I am still stuck on my question, what will be my recipe?  I make devilled eggs.  Everyone seems to love them.  And I have to bring them to every party I am invited to.  But that recipe isn’t mine.  I just didn’t have pickles one day, so I substituted bacon bits instead.  And it turned out to be a hit.  Although, I will tell you a secret, I don’t even like devilled eggs.  Maybe it will be my meatloaf?  That is pretty good, and I made that up from stuff I had on the pantry shelf.  Or maybe I haven’t made “My Recipe” yet?  It is exciting to think that the next time I enter the kitchen, I could be creating that dish that people will remember me for, a recipe that several years from now some young homemaker-to-be will make countless attempts to recreate.   

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