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Thursday, November 5, 2020

#30 Days of Gratitude - Day 10: Food

When my mother got married, she didn't know how to cook. Better Homes & Gardens and Betty Crocker cookbooks were well-used as I was growing up. Mom was determined that her daughters knew how to cook. Back in the day before instant pudding, I stood on a stepstool and stirred so it wouldn't stick. I learned to make  white sauce the same way because, according to Mom, some vegetables (like peas, parsnips, and turnips) tasted better in a sauce. About a year ago, my son the chef informed me that what I knew as a "white sauce" was really béchamel. 

Mom cooked according to a recipe. No winging it for her, no experimentation. Not me. I guess learning how to cook simple things at a young age gave me the courage to try different ingredients. I took cooking classes in ethnic foods, like Mexican, German, and Chinese. 

When my kids were nine or ten, my sister gave them Betty Crocker Junior cookbooks. They became good cooks at a young age. Now, my daughter is passing that on to her children. This spring break--the one where no one could go anywhere--her kids (ages 10 and 13) "visited" a different country each day and took turns preparing an appropriate dish. My son has been a chef since he graduated college. I can't wait to see what he teaches his kids when they're a little older. 

In her later years, Mom found shortcuts for totally delicious foods. Like her streusel coffee cake. 


 

Streusel Coffee Cake

 1 package yellow cake mix

1/4 cup firm butter

1 cup brown sugar (packed)

3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

3 eggs

1 1/2 cups (12 oz) sour cream

 Heat oven to 350°. Spray a 13x9x2 baking pan with non-stick cooking spray (or grease and flour the pan). Measure 2/3 cup dry cake mix into small bowl. Cut in butter until crumbly. Mix in brown sugar and walnuts. This will be the topping. Set aside.

 In a large bowl, beat eggs lightly with fork; stir in sour cream. Blend in remaining dry cake mix, scraping bowl often. (Batter will be thick and slightly lumpy.) Pour half of the batter into prepared pan. Sprinkle half the topping over the batter. Spoon and gently spread remaining batter in pan, top with remaining topping mix. Bake 40-45 minutes at 350°.


I'm grateful my mother insisted I learn to cook. Not only could I feed my family, I could pass on my own love of cooking to my children, as they are passing it on to theirs.


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