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Posts Tagged ‘memories’

I’ve had Julia Child’s Mastering the Art of French Cooking on my kitchen shelf for nearly a year now.  I’ve used one single recipe out of the lot.  This book revolutionized American cuisine at home, along with the PBS cooking show starring its author.  You would think, being enthralled with food, I would be half way through cooking every single recipe.  My obstacle is time, and to a slightly lesser degree, energy.  The willful will prevail.

Cooking from scratch is, or at least was, going by the wayside at an alarming rate.  It’s far too easy to grab food to-go on the way to your destination, while we are busy watching the clock instead of our waistlines and our health.  How many people do you know who bake their own bread, make their own fresh pasta, prepare batches of stock, and bake their own cookies?  Grandma.  Hmmm… anyone else?

Sweet Onions for the soup

In contrast to Julia’s methods, I read through my vintage cook book written in the early 1980’s by a group of church ladies.  I could positively tell you that over half the recipes in their collection contained at least one canned or otherwise pre-packaged ingredient, as well as half a cup of oleo (of which puzzled me, I found out that oleo is short for oleomargarine.  Also, based on when this cook book was written and guessing the participants were probably at least 50 years old, they probably wanted to say that vegetable margarine should be used, not one containing animal fat.  Margarine as we know it today was created in 1950 (when the recipe ladies would have been of “marrying age” and learning the fine art of becoming domestic goddesses) due to newer technology that enabled the extraction of oils from vegetable matter in a cheap enough fashion for commercial production.  It’s just a guess though!).  Not all pre-processed foods are created equal.  Compare a box of cheesy macaroni to a freshly frozen pasta dinner, both are pre-packaged pastas that require minimal cooking on your part, but one is not fluorescent orange (and nasty).  Does it hurt to use a can of cream of mushroom soup now and then?  I don’t think so.  I’m a mom, I take advantage of short cuts.

Back to the recipe at hand today, onion soup.  Not from a can or box, real onion soup.

Soft Onions

Julia Child calls for booze in this soup, which I don’t keep on hand, nor do I see a need for it.  These onions had so much flavour that I didn’t want to mask them with much other than my homemade chicken stock perfumed with fennel.

French Onion Soup

I found these vintage soup bowls at Goodwill for a few dollars, nifty eh?  Do make yourself some croutons and melt Gruyère cheese on them, this is a must for your French Onion Soup experience.  This reminds me of home-ec class because this was one of the few recipes we were tasked to replicate.  My home-ec teacher had to taste everyone’s creation at the end of class in order to receive a passing grade for that day, I’m not sure I would want that job.  I wasn’t the greatest cook at the wide-eyed and bushy-tailed age of thirteen.

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In Canada the summers are short and typically rainy.  During the few stints of sunny days, the kiddy pool was filed and my brother armed himself with the water hose.  Our deck off the living room was stained a dark chestnut-brown.  The sun would make the wood incredibly warm.  We would soak our feet in the pool on the patio then make footprints on the deck, how fast they faded told us how hot the day was.  Besides the cool water to douse each other with, my mom would make us floats to cure us from the heat.

The floats were commonly made with homemade root beer and vanilla ice cream.  I remember how sweet and creamy they were, and my brother and I asked for seconds.

This summer was a revival for the float.  I don’t have home-brewed root beer, nor do I have vanilla ice cream.  That didn’t matter one bit though.  I used what we had on hand: Sprite and sherbet.  The kids loved it, albeit Big Brother didn’t understand at first why we were putting sherbet in a cup instead of a bowl.

I liked the strawberry sherbet with the citrus of the pop.  Ice cream, since moving to the south, is reserved for winter.  The lighter fruity sherbet (or sorbet) are better for 100 degree weather.  I will have to make the original float with root beer and rich vanilla ice cream for the kids at some point.  It’s a classic.

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