Looking Out: Finding the perfect recipe

March 18, 2024

“I printed some recipes I found online,” I say to my beloved wife, Marsha. 

“Oh?” she says. 

“We can see how we like them,” I say. 

I know what some of you readers are thinking. “He prints a recipe, gives it to her and she has to do the work.” 

Not in our house. We share the cooking. Sometimes she cooks, sometimes I cook. Usually, we cook together. 

When we married, she had little experience in the kitchen, having been a serious student, musician and athlete. 

Jim Whitehouse

I, on the other hand, had been a serious kitchen observer of my mother, my aunts and my Grandmother Rupp. (My Grandmother Whitehouse rarely cooked. When she did, if something required 5 minutes on the stove, she tripled it, thus defeating the “rarely” part.) 

In that first tight-budget year of our wonderful marriage, I taught Marsha the secrets of haute cuisine. We dined well on macaroni and cheese from a box, hot dogs and beans, bologna sandwiches, raisin bran and fried eggs. 

Today, we decide to review the recipes I have just printed. 

“Ah! Chili!” she says. We look at the ingredients as I run my finger down the list. 

“This is identical to the chili we’ve been making for decades,” she notes, “except they don’t add celery.” 

“Chili must have celery,” I say, wadding up the paper and tossing it in the recycling bin. 

“Well, those chocolate chip cookies look good,” she says, looking at the next recipe. “But they are just like the recipe we already use.” 

“Huh. I didn’t notice. Next,” I say, throwing that one in the bin too.

We look at the next one.  

“That looks really good,” I say. “Beef stew with carrots and potatoes.”  

This recipe has a lot more ingredients and more instructions, so it takes a bit longer to peruse it. 

“Did you notice that it is cooked in the oven and not in a pot?” she says. 

I look. 

“Holy cow! Three hours? No way are we going to cook anything for three hours,” I say. “But look — it calls for some red wine. That would be good.” 

“Otherwise, it is identical to our crock-pot version,” she says. “Let’s add a little wine next time. Or, we could do it like your Grandmother Whitehouse and put it in the oven for nine hours and turn off the furnace.” 

“Check. Add wine. Note that the recipe says to use inexpensive wine that is still drinkable,” I say, crinkling the paper and lobbing it at the recycling bin. “I like that tip, even though I’m a teetotaler.” 

This leaves the last recipe. Chicken breasts in a light-but-creamy sauce of chicken broth, light cream cheese and half-and-half, along with a nice medley of spices. 

“Ooh! That looks good,” says Marsha. “Let’s keep this one.” 

“Do you mean we don’t have one like that?” I ask. 

“I don’t think so,” she says. 

You may think it odd that she is the one that knows and remembers the ingredients while I don’t recognize the duplications. 

It isn’t odd at all. She, after all, can sit down at a piano with a piece of sheet music she has never seen and play every note. She does our bookkeeping. Precisely, to the penny. When she cooks, she actually measures ingredients. 

Recipes are marching orders. 

When I cook, my hand gets a little dusty from the spices I pour into my palm. A recipe is but a suggestion. If a recipe calls for 1/8 teaspoon of ginger, I read that as “put in some ginger.” 

We complement each other. We also compliment each other. Love is like that. 

Jim Whitehouse lives in Albion.

Your custom text © Copyright 2024. All rights reserved.