Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Tuesday at the Table

I credit two women with teaching me to cook, one imaginary and one real. I didn't know the one was made-up until I was a young woman, and I confess it was a shock. It was Betty Crocker whose cookbook was the first I ever consulted, kind of the cooking Bible in my childhood home. It was there our family favorite cookies were found; it was there I looked up unfamiliar food terms, techniques, and table settings; and it was there I looked for recipes to create exciting new things. 'Born' in 1921, her first book published in 1950, Betty's picture changed over the years - and I was in disbelief that they would mess with such an icon! After all, besides her book, her baking mixes were staples in our pantry, and we grew up saving her coupons. In fact, the silverware in my drawer right now was purchased with them. And as you knew I would, I have my own well-worn orange cookbook on my shelf.

The second woman, thank goodness, is real. And that would be my mom, who shared Betty with me in the first place. I don't remember ever being told to get out of the kitchen, but was welcomed in to watch and learn and share. I was given beaters to lick after cakes were mixed up, running commentaries as I watched her cook, and a stool to stand on until I was tall enough to reach the counter. I learned from her that cooking was a way to care for those you loved.

Eventually, I was applauded as I made jello parfaits, filled angel food cakes, and other creations of my own choosing. And finally, one summer when mom and dad were working full-time, my brother and I in high school and fully-capable, we were pretty much handed the "keys" to the kitchen. Back in the days where we could take a signed, blank check to the grocery store and buy what our self-created menu required, come home and have a nice dinner ready for our family.

I still consult Betty occasionally, but it was mom I quizzed last weekend when I decided I'd make a pea salad for the pot-luck we were going to. After all, mom IS the queen of pea salad! And I think, with her expert advice, I made my best one ever. Thanks mom - for the pea salad, of course - but also for the years of mentoring and sharing in the kitchen and around the table. And by the way, Happy Birthday!

Mom's Pea Salad
2 bags frozen peas (10 oz. each), cooked just a couple of minutes in boiling water
1/2 head cauliflower, cut into small florets
two cheeses - a white and a yellow (I used cheddar and jack), cubed
green onions, sliced thinly
cocktail peanuts
bacon, crisp and crumbled
seasoning salt and pepper
sour cream (I use "light")
mayonnaise (I use "light")

This is more of a guide-line that a true recipe - but it's like mom told me. Combine the peas, cauliflower, cheese, onions, and pepper. Stir in equal amounts of sour cream and mayo, per your taste. Season with seasoning salt and pepper. Top with bacon just before serving.


  1. That looks really tasty.

    Delia Smith taught me to cook as my Mum isn't very good at it ;)

  2. Your salad looks great, Debbie! I love pea salad, but it is one of those things that I rarely think to make for some reason. But I'm always so happy when someone else does!

  3. Ouuuuu, yum! Gotta try this one- thank you :)

  4. Sounds delicious, thank for sharing the recipe. My mum is great cook too and I learned a lot form her. When I was younger she used to send me out of the kitchen (because of our very small kitchen...) so I had to learn it more or less by my self. Today she´s calling me very often asking for my special italien recipes....

  5. What?? Betty Crocker wasn't a real person? I seriously did not know that until this moment.

    The pea salad looks great. Mmmmm.

    And since I'm here, and I know you're a good cook with lots of go-to recipes....do you have any good ones for ribs? My mom made ribs at Christmas and my kids absolutely devoured them, as well I've always known that my husband loves ribs, I just never cook them. I'm curious if you have any favorites!

  6. Fun! My two ladies would be Fannie Farmer and my mom (and grandmas and aunts of course) and my mom is the queen of Frog Eye Salad - quite the distinction, right? ;-)

  7. My mouth is watering, that pea salad looks so good. I may have to make some real soon, it is a dish I love! Up until a few years ago, our local grocery store would accept checks like that too! One of those places that everyone knows your name...oh the good old days!

  8. Your experience is very similar to mine. It was mom and Betty and getting the "keys to the kitchen" early on. My sister and I took turns cooking for the family when she went back to work. The pea salad looks good, and I remember eating that back when I could still eat dairy products. Yum!

  9. Sharing my pea salad recipe has resulted in many affirming comments and tasty additions to a special meal. However, my original recipe did not include the cauliflower. Adding 2 or 3 different types of cheese made for a nice color presentation. Oh yes, the salted peanuts and bacon so adds to the flavor. Enjoy! Debbie...thank you for serving me your delicious pea salad for my birthday lunch!!
    Love you Dearly...mom