MEMORIES…PERFECT PEKING DUCK…..by ISABEL

When I was in college I would frequent a very formal Chinese restaurant. It was near a nightclub, where my then boyfriend worked, or I never would have discovered it. They had a dish which they called Peking Duck. My brother, who traveled the world for work and frequently visited his in-laws in Hong Kong, has since described the correct procedure for preparing “True Peking Duck” and I have no idea if any of these methods were used. Their Peking Duck, however, was one of my favorite dishes of all time. Each piece was like a miniature Duck “Napoleon” with layers of very crisp duck, skin and sauce. The experience of savoring those flavors lives on in my dreams and desires.  My brother continues his search for the “perfect” Peking Duck”…and I look forward to tasting it….But, somehow, I feel it will never live up to my first experience…..

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MEMORIES…SCHOOL LUNCH…..by ISABEL

I never attended a school that had a cafeteria… Some of my children had that nasty experience and my youngest has been spoiled by the local restaurants delivering to his school. My mother, along with her no cooking policy, had a never wake up early policy as well. My father made us breakfast and even brought me orange juice in bed when he came in to wake us up (my brother insists he did not get the same service). Her solution was to bring us food at lunchtime. I liked my lunch; cottage cheese, cantaloupe and cucumber…with the occasional peanut butter and grape jelly sandwich.. My brother only got the PB&J…..When we moved to another house my brother’s school had a cafeteria..which he did not like. My mother brought him a pork chop everyday for a few weeks and then got “busy” and it was back to the cafeteria for him……

MEMORIES…BISCUIT DOUGH PIZZAS…..by ISABEL

My earliest memory of cooking was making individual pizzas (yes…pizza again) with my father and brother.
We used pre-packaged biscuit dough which is still sold, in tubes, in the refrigerated section of the market.
My favorite part was squishing the canned whole tomatoes (no diced tomatoes in those days…) into small usable pieces.
It was so tactile and engaging that I would recommend letting your kids use their hands in this way while getting them “hooked on cooking”…..
The

was very simple.
I repeated this tradition with my children…..My brother did too…..

LEGENDS AND MEMORIES…..by ISABEL

My mother was the middle child of five…but for many years she was a youngest child. Her two, much older, sisters had formed a kitchen “team” with their mother and they didn’t want her in the way. So…. she never learned how to cook. She spent a lot of time with her father having “intellectual” discussions and sometimes going to work with him. He died, tragically, when she was 12. Her mother soon remarried, as one did in those days, the younger children fit in with the new husband’s once motherless children but my mother was, once again, the odd “man” out.
The only things she ever cooked when we were growing up was a very good sour apple pie for Thanksgiving (pumpkin too..but the recipe was on the can) and very occasionally blintzes…which were also quite good.