Friday, December 16, 2011

Exploring cooking roots -- My mom's nobake cookie recipe and me

Hey yall!  So just how are you all doing?  This is the beginning of a new series of articles in my blog, exploring the cooking roots of people.  I mean, hey, exploring our roots has been with us since 1977, when the miniseries based on Alex Haley’s book, “Roots: The Saga of an American Family”, premiered on the ABC television network of stations.   

But your family tree roots and your cooking roots are two different things.  Your family tree roots involve who you are related to, starts with your parents, and works back from there.  However, your cooking roots involve who or what influenced your food tastes and cooking skills throughout your life.  One deals with people you are related to, while the other covers a wide range of people and places and things.

My family tree roots are something I grew up with, listening to different family members talk about.  For example, I had 3 ancestors who fought in the Civil War; and I had one ancestor that I know of who fought in the American Revolutionary War.  My roots on my father’s side trace back to England, and France I believe.  While on my mother’s side, because of her last name, I suspect that my roots may trace back to maybe German descent.  Now this is where my family roots and my cooking roots mix.  Because another thing that causes me to suspect that my family tree on my mother’s side has roots in Germany was her New Years Day tradition of making sauerkraut and sausage and black-eyed peas. 

Now that tells you something about my family tree roots.  But let’s get on to my cooking roots.  The bulk of my cooking roots begin with my mother’s kitchen, and enjoying the food she made; and also helping her prepare food for special occasions.  Another part of my cooking roots is the fact that as a kid, the only bean I would eat were green beans; and now I love all beans.  As a kid, I would pick the beans out of the chili my mom would make.  So a lot of the time she would make chili with rice instead of beans because I didn’t like beans.  Yet another part of my cooking roots involves the fact that I am from a small town in Kentucky.  So we could say that your cooking roots comprise of the cooks you were around, your personal food likes and dislikes, and the area you lived in.

Most of my cooking training came from my mom.  She was a really great cook who had a repertoire of dishes that she had no written recipe for.  These were what I call her ‘everyday food’.  They included dishes such as spaghetti, chili, soup, roast, vegetable dishes, and more.  I look forward, in future posts, to sharing my versions of these with all of you.  Another part of my cooking training came from the home economics classes I had in school.  Personally I think home economics classes are something that every guy and gal should take in high school.  I treasure mine, because they taught me more than I realized at the time. 

My time spent cooking with my mom mainly falls into two different cooking times:  getting ready for holidays and my time at home after high school.  You see, on pretty much all the holidays, either family was gathered at our house to eat or at a family member’s house to eat.  That was just how we celebrated the holidays, with getting together to eat and visit.  No matter whether it was at home or someone else’s house, my mom always cooked.  And when I got old enough, I started helping her with the holiday cooking. 

I always say that when I really learned how to cook was after high school.  When I graduated, I had plans to go to college, but couldn’t decide on what I wanted to take.  So after high school, I took a couple of years off, and spent them at home with mom and dad.  Now my dad worked second shift, and so the main meal of the day that my mom cooked was at noon.  With me there at home around the house, my mom put me to cooking the noon day meal.  This freed her up to do other things.  When I first started, she would have planned out what she wanted fixed and all the stuff for it.  She would tell me how to fix it, and she was always there around house to ask if I had any questions.  By the time I headed off to business college, I was planning the meals myself, and didn’t have to ask too many questions. 

Another thing that influenced my cooking roots was my karate classes that I took in my mid-twenties.  Now you are probably sitting there wondering how karate classes connect up with cooking.  As a result of the classes, I took an interest in oriental cooking; and explored it by way of checking out several books on oriental cooking from our local library.  One Christmas, mom and dad got me an electric wok, which I still have.  My dad just loved my stir-frys I made in it.  And my mom and I even tried our hand at making egg rolls one time.  They turned out pretty good as I remember. 

So all this brings us down to the recipes.  My mom enjoyed collecting recipes, as do I.  She kept her recipes in a kitchen drawer for a great many years, until I got a Macintosh Plus computer in the early 1980s.  Now her recipe collection consisted of bits and pieces of paper from newspapers and magazines, and some of the recipes were hand-written on pieces of paper by friends and family.  So after I got my computer, we came up with the idea to go thru the recipes, and I would type them all up and print them out.  So we sorted thru all of them together, and got rid of the ones which we couldn’t figure out why we had kept.  Then I sorted them all into categories and typed them all up, and printed out 2 copies of the recipes - one for me and one for my mom.  I still have mine, and I think one of my family now has my mom’s copy.  I look forward to sharing these recipes with you in upcoming articles; like my Aunt Lucy’s recipe for Candied Orange Peels, my Granny’s recipe for Butter Pie, and my mom’s recipe for Licking Good Salad.

But right now, I am going to share my favorite recipes that my mom made for me as a kid -- Oatmeal Nobake Cookies.  I think she originally got this recipe from a newspaper.  I still remember the scrap of paper the recipe was on.  Sometimes, if the mixture wasn’t cooked long enough, the cookies wouldn’t want to harden up; but I never cared.  I would rake them off the wax paper and eat them anyhow.  So here is my mom’s recipe for those cookies:

Oatmeal Nobake Cookies

2 c. white sugar
1/4 lb. margarine (1/2 cup or 1 stick of margarine)
1/2 cup milk

Mix in saucepan.  Boil one minute.  Remove from heat.  Add:

1 t. vanilla
2 T. cocoa
1/2 c. peanut butter
3 c. one-minute oats

Stir together, then drop by tablespoons on wax paper and let cool.   

It’s a really simple but very good recipe, and I hope you enjoy it.  And if you are hungry for no-bake oatmeal cookies, but don’t have the time to cook them, check in the deli of your local grocery store or Walmart.  Our local IGA carries the Lofthouse brand no-bake oatmeal cookies, which comes in peanut butter and peanut butter fudge. 

I have also found chocolate no-bake cookies under the Walmart brand in the deli area of our local Walmart.  Both are quite good.

Hope you enjoyed reading about my cooking roots, and love sharing one of my favorite recipes with you all.  

Would you like to share your cooking roots and a favorite recipe with everyone too?  

If so, just drop me an email at:  

-- and put roots as your subject.

Well that’s all for now.  Till next time,
Happy cooking and delightful eating!  
From my kitchen to yours.

1 comment:

  1. I enjoyed reading your blog... hope to try the recipe above. When I find some time, I'd like to send a recipe or 2 as we too hand down/swap/share in our family :) God bless you~