My grandson is in the marines. He’s served most of his four years and will be out later this year. For a long time, he was stationed so close to San Diego that he could zip there and order the most wonderful Mexican food he swears he’s ever had. It’s authentic. And he’d bug me about making “American” Mexican food, so I bought a cookbook and sometimes went to the bother of making pork shoulders and chuck roasts with seasonings and shredding them, etc. to make my Mexican meals more “real.” Now, he’s in Pendleton, California, and the food’s okay but nothing to brag about, and he often calls to ask me what I’m making for supper that night. The last time he came home for leave, he had a list of things he wanted me to cook for him.
My daughter and the two boys spent most of their growing up years living with us so that she could study to be a nurse and survive. We all liked it, and the boys loved to help me cook. They liked it so much that they became pretty darned picky about what they liked and didn’t. To the point, that when they were in fifth grade and their teacher was on a chapter about nutrition, she did a quick Q & A for the kids to recognize different foods. Our boys were the only ones who knew every single item, even the odd ones most of the other kids couldn’t identify, like bok choy, napa cabbage, artichokes, and anchovies. Our older grandson would go to the grocery store with me because he liked to pick out the cuts of meat I bought. He was really serious about chuck roasts.
Both boys are really good cooks today. So are both of my daughters and the boys’ friend who spent a lot of time at our house. When he moved in with his girlfriend, he’d e-mail me for recipes. I still love that kid.
I love to cook so much that it sneaks into every book I write. And I really DO love to cook. We only grab takeout or go out to eat once or twice a week, including lunch. But with Covid, and restaurants closed, I got bored and started making recipes I’ve never tried before. And nearly all of them have been successes. Some recipes are more dependable than others:) For French cooking, I always fall back on Ina Garten’s cookbooks. I have almost all of hers. For variety, I love Nigella Lawson. My daughter bought me her new cookbook for my birthday a couple years ago. For gatherings, I pull out Pam Anderson, and for healthy (I’m diabetic), I turn to Marlene Koch. They’re true, trusted cookbooks that have never let me down. BUT, a girl can never have too many recipes. So I tear pages from the many food magazines I’ve subscribed to. I read them for the same reason I attend my writers’ meetings twice a month. They recharge my batteries and inspire me to try something new.
My biggest new fad lately has been recipes for my air fryer. And one of my favorite cookbooks for that has been Every Day Easy Air Fryer by Urvashi Pitre. I’ve made shrimp & chorizo tapas, chicken souvlaki, and char sui, Cantonese BBQ pork, from that, among many other things. Nigella taught me the joy of coconut milk sauces, but this cookbook includes flavors that I’m not familiar with, and that’s fun. Even after our favorite restaurants open, (and I can’t wait), I’ll still grab this cookbook just because it’s not the usual spices and rubs that I use. I have more Oriental recipes than anyone needs (because the boys loved them), but these pull more from Morocco, the Middle East, India, and Africa.
Which means, that somewhere in the future, when you grab one of my books (I include recipes in my Jazzi mysteries), you might see spice mixes you’ve never seen from me before. And you’ll know that they cheered me during our virus scare. And they just might cheer you, too.
Here’s to happy cooking, happy reading, and lots of happy writing!