11 March 2007

Childhood food memories...

I must admit I have a large cookbook collection probably in excess of 300 or so books. I began collecting many years ago (more than I probably care to admit about now!) but I have since begun to refine my tastes and am now quite discriminating on what books I will buy.

I tend to go off on tangents and when really into something I would get all the best books on the subject. For instance, once when in the bookstore, I saw this book on chocolate - it was like porn for chocolate lovers. I could not put the book down. I did not get it that day but of course, it only took me a few days to go back and get the book. What was it you ask? Death by Chocolate by Marcel Desaulniers. I remember then finding a show on one of the cooking channels back home - how I wish I had kept the videos I had taped, I taped over them with Martha Stewart. While I am happy to have some of her older shows (they were the best if you ask me) it would have been useful to keep his shows too. Hindsight is 20/20 as they say.

Anyway, despite having the book I made only one item in it for a long time (probably more out of fear than anything else - the recipes often are intimidating to read through let alone make). I then, when moving to England, found that cakes here were nothing like our American counterparts. Icing here is usually fondant but I think it is such a super-sugar rush that I cannot stand it. They really do not do icing as we do. Therefore, I began to broaden my baking horizons and started making most of the items in this book. My particular favourite is the White and Dark Chocolate Pistachio Cake. It really is the best frosting by far and has just the right amount of sweet, chocolate taste.

Now for the reason for the posting - see I am already on a tangent! I made yesterday a loaf of bread - nothing unusual in that but instead of the usual loaf I made a sweeter type of bread more akin to a brioche but not as sweet. I got the recipe from my Dough cookbook (another one I recommend) and this got me to thinking of my childhood and how we had gotten this type of bread usually for our Easter dinner.

I then began to think of all the other breads I had that I cannot now find and one was a poppy seed confection that really was out of this world. Therefore, I naturally turned to a cookery book that I saw in the States about 7 years ago called Polish Heritage Cookery, what a gem this book has turned out to be. Eventually I found a recipe, which sounds similar to what I remember but of course, it will be a lot of work. I will have to gather a number of ingredients for it but I'll report back when I have made the item. I hope that I can get the camera to work and take a picture of it as well. I must admit I am a techie but working that thing is often beyond me.

Now this is a rather long post but I find it is often food that transports us back to our childhood and to relive those pleasant memories gone by. I am lucky to have many of my family recipes that my grandmother made. I so wished that she had written them down even if they were in Polish - it would be something. I do have her cookbook but the date in it is well past when she would have begun cooking so I can only assume it was a present. I can see some similarities to the recipes of some items I make but they are never the exact - nor are the ingredients.

I tend to cook the same way - I will synthesise a number of recipes and tackle it my own way. I sometimes have flops but then again life is a learning curve. Hopefully, I’ll have a bit more to pass on when I am gone as I try to keep a record of the recipes I like and have adapted. At least I hope there will be someone in my family that will enjoy cooking and getting the best they can from their food. We shall see…


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