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Monday, August 9, 2010

How Wolfgang Puck sent me back home.



Year after year after I married, had children and worked full time, I took liberties with my mother's recipes. I began to use frozen meals, canned products, simplified version of the dishes she cooked.  My minestrone began to taste like the water-down version in a can of Campbell soup.

I stopped eating the minestrone I prepared.

My husband, raised on Chef-boy-R-D tought everything tasted fine.
I was too tired to care, actually.  After an entire day on high heels and tight girdles-yes, the picture is important because my legs and calves suffered-walking around a classroom of unruly teens, I wanted to collapse at the end of the day, not fix a meal that took hours to develop all its flavors.

I opted for quick meals, and knew not what I was doing to our health.

Then, after we visited a Wolfgang Puck cafe in Santa Monica, and I saw how the chef sauteed the vegetables on the side before adding them to the cooked beans, after I tasted the authentic minestrone of my childhood, I swore never to take shortcuts again. 

It's just not the same thing.
So, I have to give credit where credit is due.  I'm plagiarizing Chef Puck's recipe. It is also the original recipe my mother passed down to me. She would be proud of me.

Should you wish to see this recipe, it's on my  Real Food blog.

24 comments:

Helen said...

I must admit ... in my old age ... I sometimes take the easy way out. But when I put time and effort into preparing meals, the result is stellar!

RNSANE said...

I rarely cook anymore though I have 500 wonderful cookbooks from all over the world. In the 25 years since my extensive back surgery and the 21 years of working literally, day and night, and having to be on call 24/7, I just took the easy way out. In explaining to the head of DPH personnel one time as to why we deserved our call pay, we told him, it was a little difficult to make love ( he said he could do it quickly ). We also told him, "You can make toast but you can't bake a cake" - unless you want to put it all down and head out when the beeper went off, if there was no one home to take over. I found that the addition of some personal touches to "fast" food helped to make it tolerable.

When I do cook now, I try to make it really special but, oh my goodness, does my back ever hurt.

Brian Miller said...

ah, you can always tell when a shortcut has been made...especially in the kitchen...off to get my cooking lesson now...smiles.

Everyday Goddess said...

I'm heading over to see your inherited gem! with a spoon!

pink dogwood said...

I have the greatest intentions during the day. But sometimes when the work day extends, it is so tempting to pick something precooked on the way.

I love your new blog :)

Eva Gallant said...

When my kids were home, I cooked regularly; when they left home and I changed jobs, I had less enthusiasm for cooking and took short cuts, bought take out, and at out often. Now that I've been retired for a year, I've gone back to cooking again, and I have to say, I love from scratch, home cooked food!

L. D. Burgus said...

You made me hungry. Good food with a little work.

Cloudia said...

Good for you. Mangia!




Aloha from Waikiki :)

Comfort Spiral

#1Nana said...

It is one of the gifts of retirement to be able to spend time preparing meals. All those years that I worked I developed expertise with the crock pot. Now I'm rediscovering cooking....not every meal, but at least once a week. Funny how much money you can save when it's all prepared from scratch. One chicken makes three meals...who knew?

Sophia said...

I can totally relate to those days. Especially during the summer temps. I have no desire to come home after a full day's work and cook at all in the heat!! :) Hee

the walking man said...

Just goes to prove you can't miss what you have never known.

Tabor said...

I used to cook like that often when I was too busy or the kids had activities, but I now realize that fast food doesn't have to me flavorless or unhealthy. I am printing you recipe and when the weather gets cooler I will try it and see if it reminds me of my mother's.

Arkansas Patti said...

Oh how lucky you were to have married a "Chef" raised man. Think I will add that as a requirement in my personal ad :)))

Lizzy Frizzfrock said...

Rosaria, I know exactly what you mean about wanting to cook something fast back in those teaching days. When I finally dragged home it was difficult to go into the kitchen!
I like your "Real Food" blog & left you a note there.

NitWit1 said...

As a working professional all my like until an encounter with cancer forced me into disability and retirement, my minimal cooking skills became nil; in retirement I haven't had the urge to redevelop any, s I have always been faced with my overweight need to reduce calories countered by my husband's very underweight need for heavy calories.

Now I am facing further difficulties of severe salt restriction I am finding it even more difficult to get excited.

Saretta said...

My grandmother once asked me, "So, Sara, do you cook?" to which I responded, "Grandmother, I eat, so obviously I cook!" But, apparently it is not so obvious, so many people get by on prepared foods which I think are terrible for us for the most part. So, congrats on your new resolve!

Phoenix said...

I grew up with parents who always took the easy way out. I never had fresh food and at Thanksgiving (sadly) my parents would order food from a restaurant.

Now when I cook with fresh ingredients or when my boy does - it feels like love.

yaya said...

Missed a few posts so it was fun to catch up on your news..especially the cooking blog! Don't wear yourself out though with all the visitors, yard work, and cooking too! Have a fun week!

becky at abbeystyle said...

Oh, the easy way out...I totally get that and have done the same thing. Now I see my daughter doing the same things and noting my grandsons eating habits...not the best. Currently, we're working on habit changing...a weigh-in for football taught us all kinds of reasons for making changes.

Smitty said...

Oh I love this title, too. Catchy! I had to read your entire post to puzzle it out. That kind of writing WORKS!

Sarah Laurence said...

It is hard to make time to cook well while working and raising kids. Thanks for the recipe! I love your seascape photo.

Marguerite said...

When my kids were growing up, I ran a business in my home and always had a big pot of something homemade, simmering on the stove, while I worked. I also had a big vegetable garden, every summer, and froze and canned what we could not eat. I have never regretted it, as we've all, always been very healthy.

Rob-bear said...

What I've learned so far is that there is more to cooking that just throwing a few things in a pot.

For here, it's all up hill. Or down hill.

I don't expect to be a chef; I'd like to be a decent cook. Even half-decent would be good!

Relyn said...

But now you cook - and live - sans girdle. Yes?