Kiss the Cook

As I said, on Thanksgiving I have few duties. I set the table, I buy the ornaments and I make dessert. Sometimes I don’t get to make dessert, but that is another story for another day.

This year Mr. Blandings was hunting for recipes for pumpkin creme brulee, but I intervened. “You know your mother really just wants pumpkin pie. I think we should make her a pumpkin pie.” “Will you make your pumpkin chiffon pie?” “Um. Sure. You know that recipe is a little wonky.”

The recipe comes from a book that I started during a period of passing interest in cooking during my girlhood. (My friend, Stu, is laughing at the misspelling of “abbreviations.” She had a front row seat to the year that immediately followed my tenure in a progressive school that found spelling irrelevant. Turns out it wasn’t.) Thank heavens for the abbreviations page as these are clearly incredibly obscure shorthands.

Mr. Blandings loves flipping through this book, “What in the world is Coke Salad?” Really, I have no idea. I have absolutely no memory of Coke Salad, though Grandmother Rassmussen’s Doughnuts and Five Cup Salad are crystal clear. “Seems you had a bit of a sweet tooth.” Not had, have. Still, there is not one savory dish in the book.

Both my grandmother and my mother made Nana’s Pumpkin Chiffon Pie. When I made it for the first time as an adult, I was skeptical that my mother actually made this recipe. It calls for the use of a double boiler. I have no recollection of my mother ever using anything as sophisticated as a double boiler. Still, I forged ahead.

There are all kinds of weird things about this recipe. It calls for three egg whites, but later refers to beating the yolks. I have to guess a little. Oddly, the pie turns out great.

Mr. Blandings is particularly charmed by my review at the bottom of the recipe, “Delicious!!!!!!!” “Seven exclamation points. You must have really liked it.”

Which reminded me of my copy of Dorothy Rogers’s The House in My Head. The book is a wonderful, well, not peek, but full-on expose of a couple building a very thoughtful house. Even if the house they built is not your style, the effort that went into it will garner your respect.

At the back of the book is a collection of Rogers’s recipes. In my copy, the book’s original owner has written notes on the recipes. “This is perfectly elegant prepared and served in fresh tomato shells.” “The flavor is so mild and delicate, the sauce kills it.” “This had a rare and tangy flavor we both liked.”
Charmingly, I feel like Mrs. Sandy was writing these notes for me. Not the notes she has made of substitutions and how to reduce the recipe, not the cook’s tricks, but these reviews feel like something she was providing for the cook who came next. For me. These are absolutely delicious.
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24 thoughts on “Kiss the Cook

  1. Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House was on television over the weekend. I watched it in your honor. Such a great movie. Love your blog and always look forward to new posts.

    It, along with others, inspired me to finally start my blog. I feel like I've birthed at least twins, maybe triplets. I do love it thus far, only 6 posts in but a lot swirling in my brain for post options. Thanks again for the inspiration.



  2. Please tell about the dessert tradition. I love the recipe book; so many great memories brought into now. The tablecloth looks great.

  3. Oh my, the Coca Cola Salad brings back memories. My paternal grandmother used to make it- basically it's a cherry coke Jello salad. I remember taking one bite- so sweet that I got two cavities from the experience!

  4. I love putting (and finding) notes on recipes. It's the best part of having legacy cookbooks, whether or not the legacy is from my own family.

  5. Kathy – I completely agree. Mrs. Sandy's notes encouraged me to read through many recipes I might have ignored. Enchanting.

  6. Jennifer – I knew it! I knew it! It had to have an Atlanta origin. I am not brave enough to try it – and yes, I can see the direct cavity connection.

  7. Happy Holidays, Patricia…Lovely post. I make this Pumpkin Chiffon Pie, & have for decades (same recipe); it is SOOOO good people cannot believe it's pumpkin. Notes in ANY book make me happy, like the writer is reaching out to touch you. Marsha

  8. I always leave notes on recipes I have made and date them…for myself and my daughters…so many of the same recipes it is always nice to know for sure it was the one you made and enjoyed…

  9. Notice how none of the fawning comments were about your table? That is because it is pathetic and sad like your decorating. Why would you post a photo of your dining room that includes a look into the kitchen? Awful. Also awful are the stains on your chairs. And is that a tableloth or a bedsheet? The candlesticks are too big for the scale of the table and the sad pears need to be put in a bowl and accessorized. Have you not learned anything from your friend Eddie Ross? I am postive he would not have posted a photo of a sad looking pie in a cheap pie plate without styling the photo to the nth degree. Better step up your game Mrs. B.

  10. I need to start keeping a cook's journal. Rarely does a recipe turn out the same way twice. Not always a good thing.

    What is it with the spate of Anon spleen that has been vented lately? I don't mind constructive criticism, but these people rarely issue anything but condemnation. I suppose that's why they don't blog. The only things missing from your table are heaping platters and good friends.

  11. Your blog is one of the things I am thankful for! What a sweet girlhood recipe book and what a charming written on second-hand book — it's nice to see things like that cherished over time.

  12. Mrs. Blandings, I love your blog. It never fails to pick me up and I am grateful for it. Am astonished by the rudeness of the anonymous commenter and hope you know how much you and your blog are appreciated by so many of us.

  13. wait. what? you didn't hire a team of 3 stylist, 12 lighting experts, a photographer, 3 assistance and craft services? what kind of a blog is this?

    I come here to see, product placement, untouchable spaces and something sterile and commercial. Not this, November light filled room, warm with provenance and curated with the eye of a hostess who clearly has a great aesthetic…but most of all knows how to create ambiance and sense of family.

    On second thought, maybe this is what the holidays are all about.
    Thanks for showing us that. As always I'll be back. ; )

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