Learning to Cook from the Heart

Learning to Cook from the Heart, Elaine Griffin, The Laine ListI’ve been watching cooking shows since I was knee high to my mother and grandmother. Of course back then it was Julia Child. The Frugal Gourmet was right up there for me too. But after Julia it was Graham Kerr and Martin Yan.

Soon after that, celebrity chefs hit the scene and the Food Network came along. I could have died and gone to heaven. Celebrity chefs have begun to lose their appeal to me now, unless we are talking about pretty much any Chopped judge and then I will be right there.

Aside from that I now enjoy following chefs like Vivian Howard, who is not only employing the farm to table philosophy, but also learning about and sharing her regional cultural and agricultural food history. So cool.

My mother and grandmother have always shared in my journey to learn about food, and taught me how to cook. When I was young, my mother cooked out of the Moosewood Cookbook and Joy of Cooking. As I grew older we cooked less from recipe and more from head and heart. No matter how little money we had, we always had good food.

My grandmother had recipe cards that she would pull from her recipe box, but mostly her recipes were in her head. Most of the time it was more technique than ingredients. I can’t tell you how grateful I am for all of the hours I spent in her kitchen learning farmhouse recipes like homemade baked mac and cheese, scalloped oysters, creamed onions, scalloped potatoes, meatloaf.

She too, cooked from her heart.

The cooking from head and heart technique is how I am teaching my children to cook. Rarely do we cook anything from a recipe, at least all the way. There is always something that needs to be added or substituted. We create. Ben is particularly good at creating not just recipes, but soul-satisfying food. Genevieve is still a little bit too little for that, but her zest for helping to cook makes me believe she will master this skill as well.

Tell me, how did you learn to cook?

Meal Plan Week of May 5th

meal plan week of May 5th, Elaine Griffin, The Laine ListWe are gearing up for some good weather this coming week, after along week of rain and cold. I’ve been feeling ready for warm weather food for several weeks, and much to my dismay last week, I had to break out the crockpot for a hot batch of minestrone soup. It was good, but not what I wanted.

So here is our meal plan for the week of May 5th. Some of these recipes we will be testing and tweaking. I’m looking forward to getting back in the kitchen with the kids to see what we can come up with!

What’s on your menu this week?

Stuffed Zucchini with Tomatoes, Corn, and Fresh Italian Herbs

I love zucchini, but unfortunately I’m the only person in my house who does. I’ve tried everything too, to get them to eat it. No dice. Until now! Here is a delicious summer harvest-type stuffed zucchini that even my zucchini haters LOVE!

stuffed zucchini with tomatoes, corn, and panko
*This recipe is provided as an idea for inspiration, which is why no ingredient amounts are specified. Adjust amounts and ingredients based on your taste! And if you try this recipe or a version of it, please come back and comment!*

The Ingredients

  • zucchini, halved lengthwise, with the flesh scooped out and reserved, but dispose of the seedy part
  • zucchini flesh, chopped
  • chopped onion and garlic
  • grape or cherry tomatoes, sliced or quartered
  • fresh corn, cooked, and cut off the cob
  • panko breadcrumbs
  • chicken stock
  • herbs, such as fresh basil, parsley, and oregano, chopped
  • Parmesan cheese
  • shredded Italian blend cheese
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

The Method

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place zucchini flesh-side down in a baking dish with a little water. Bake until soft, but not cooked through. While the zucchini is in the oven, heat olive oil in a pan and sautee onion and garlic. Add zucchini flesh and sautee until it starts to get translucent. Add corn, tomatoes, panko, and Parmesan cheese. Stir together and then add stock to moisten. Add the chopped herbs, and salt and pepper to taste. Remove the zucchini from the oven and remove from baking dish. Pat to dry, remove any water from the dish, and oil the dish to prevent sticking. Add the zucchini back into the pan skin side down, and salt and pepper the flesh liberally. Add the filling and top with Italian cheese blend. Bake until the cheese is melted and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite stuffed vegetable dish you would like to share?

I am so proud of my mom!!

Living, Loving, Cooking

Today I want to dedicate my blog post to my mom, who today became a BLOGGER!! I am so proud of her for taking the plunge. You see, she is the real writer in this family. For reals. (hahaha, she would never say that!) But seriously, she taught me everything I know. She has never stopped seeking out happiness. She has never let life get the best of her (for too long anyway!). She is a writing instructor, a certified cake decorator, a culinary student, writer, wife, mother, grandmother (sorry for calling you out mom!), sister, and great friend, in no particular order. I don’t know how she finds the time.

I’m so glad that she’s writing again, and doin’ it out loud! I love you mom – happy blogging!!

So go check her out her inaugural post ya’ll! And make sure to go back for more, because she has a lot of amazing stories to tell!

Meal plan week of 1/2/12 – post holiday fridge and body clean out

meal planning

I wish I was as organized and inspired as LizMarie_AK on Flickr

Monday, 1/2 – Lots of New Years Eve and New Years day leftovers.

Tuesday, 1/3 – Southern Black eye pea minestrone (more leftovers!)

Wednesday, 1/4 – Chicken and pineapple skewers, salad with ginger-cilantro vinaigrette.

Thursday, 1/5 – Crockpot Mexican turkey stew.

Friday, 1/6 – Pizza Friday!!

Saturday, 1/7 – Pasta with meatballs, salad and homemade bread.

Sunday, 1/8 – Cornbread stuffing/veggie chili casserole, nacho style.

What are you all having? Any dieting/healthy living resolutions you are planning around?

The recipe box

Grandmas' recipe boxThis morning I was up with the baby at 3:30. She just needed a quick back rub and went back to sleep. Drama-less. Thankfully.

Since my alarm was set for 4:00 anyway, I ended up staying up. I tried to lay back down, but what’s the point?

So I decided to try to make my grocery list for today. I have to buy all of our Christmas food. I needed the recipe for “fart blossoms” (peanut butter cookies with Hershey Kisses on top). I opened my grandmothers little black recipe box to see if it was in there.

I sorted through the white recipe cards with the potted flower graphic running along the top. These were newer recipes, likely taken from Taste of Home or Redbook. Vegetable and Sausage Chili. Santa Fe Chicken Pasta.

White cards with a large butterfly on the left side, taking up a good quarter of the card. These are slightly older. Fruit Cocktail Cake. Deviled Hamburgers.

I squinted to read recipes written on bright pink recipe cards, where drops of water and sauces helped to fade the old ink and pencil. Sugar Cookies. Cornell Barbeque Sauce. Beef Stroganoff.

There were clippings, new and old. Randomly placed alphabetical dividers.

There were a surprising amount of recipes written in my mother’s handwriting. Her young handwriting – small, undefined, relaxed. Beef Stew Provencal. Tantalizing Baked Beans. Some recipes were written by my aunt Molly, with that same young, undefined, happy stroke. Wholegrain Jam Squares. Curried Chicken.

All of the recipes give credit to where they came from. Mimi’s Cheesecake. Irish Cream from Judy. Asparagus Casserole from Mary Lou, which calls for the crumbs of exactly 18 crackers! I love that casserole, I will have to make it for Ben – he loves asparagus.

I never did find the Fart Blossom recipe in that box, but I did find it written on an envelope in my recipe folder. So off to the store I go to gather ingredients. I just might have to make something from that box for dinner tonight.

I would love to know – do you have any family dishes you love to cook?