by Betty Owens
“…no one is born a great cook, one learns by doing.” ― Julia Child, My Life in France
Want to try something fun? Open Pinterest, put the words, “Grandma’s Recipes” in the search bar and hit enter. Not only is it fun to read the recipes, but the stories that go with them. Oh, the memories—yum, the goodies!
And I had the pleasure of finding a winner. The best turkey dressing recipe of my memory was not my grandmother’s, or my mom’s (sorry Mom), but belonged to a woman named Mildred Totten, who was the lead cook at a retirement home. I worked there for several years while in my teens. We saved leftover bread, biscuits, and cornmeal muffins for a couple of weeks ahead (stored them in the cooler).
The morning of the Thanksgiving meal, we gathered in the kitchen and tore all that bread into bits. Ms. Mildred melted butter in a huge skillet and added chopped veggies then mixed it all together. She used an ice cream scoop and placed mounds of dressing into well-greased institutional-sized muffin tins. Then she baked them in the oven. They smelled wonderful and came out like a muffin, moist in the center, slightly crunchy on the edges. Placed next to warm, sliced turkey, and topped with turkey gravy, they were scrumptious and disappeared as fast as she could bake them.
Serving up a delicious meal is truly an art! Yes, this month’s topic, “The Art of Cooking,” is a timely one, don’t you think? Thanksgiving is just a few weeks away. Many of our authors will also share a recipe. The one I found that inspired my special cooking memory is found HERE. My clan actually prefers a plain bread stuffing (not corn meal) and I usually rely on the bagged croutons that are already seasoned. But this year, I might try this recipe and see if anyone notices. Shhh! Don’t tell on me.
The true art to cooking is making and serving something that inspires memories (good and bad). Maybe your favorite remembered meal inspires laughter in your home. Yes, I have some of those, too. I’ve also messed up recipes that turned out to be a family favorite. That’s how some of our greatest inventors happened upon life-changing inventions. It all started with a mistake and voila! You have a masterpiece.
And don’t forget the presentation. I’m not great at that, but one particular anniversary, I nailed it. No, not literally. I “created” beef bourguignon (bur-gen-yon). Technically, it’s a beef stew with layer upon layer of flavor. I served it on a bed of creamy mashed potatoes with a side of crusty French bread. Our best china, tablecloth and candlelight, a floral centerpiece. I went all out. But the food stole the show—a true winner. It was labor intensive, and a little on the expensive side, but worth every penny.
I hope you’ll check back in from time to time and see what’s cooking at the Writing Prompts blog. And don’t forget, our holiday giveaway is in full-swing. You can win a gift card, free books, and whatever else we can find to give. It’s the holiday season! Leave a comment on any of our Monday and Friday posts for a chance to win, throughout the month of November. Complete our writing prompt for a double entry. For all the details about the giveaway, click this link: Once Upon a Christmas.
What’s your all-time favorite food memory? Have you created a winning recipe?
Writing Prompt: Your best friend Millie has invited her husband’s new boss and his wife to dinner. She calls you the morning of the dinner, panicky. “I can’t do this. Can you help me? I don’t know what to cook!” How will you come to the rescue and save Millie’s dinner?
An Easy Pumpkin Spice Cake Recipe
15 oz. can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie mix)
12 oz. can evaporated milk
3 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 box spice cake mix
1 cup butter, melted
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Spray a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray (floured spray works well).
- In a mixing bowl, combine pumpkin puree, evaporated milk, eggs, sugar and cinnamon until well-combined.
- It will seem a little thin, but this is perfect.
- Pour the mixture into the baking dish.
- Sprinkle dry spice cake mix on top of pumpkin mixture.
- Drizzle melted butter over the top.
- Bake for 55-60 minutes. (The middle may still jiggle a little, but it’s done–don’t over bake–it’ll be too dry). It will continue to set up as it cools.
- Cool for 30 minutes or longer before slicing and serving.
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream & a sprinkle of pumpkin pie spice or cinnamon. Can also be served with ice cream.