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Jul 27, 2011 05:48 AM

Fun family recipe instructions

Do you have recipes with instructions like this in your collection?

"Olive oil and butter in a frying pan. Don't ask how much, you know we didn't cook that way. Enough for the bottom to be wet, and a bit more so it doesn't dry up. Don't put heat under it yet, we have more to do first."

"Clam bake. That yellow stuff they sell at City Fish is clambake. It's also used for making Onion Rings. We made onion rings a few times, but they mucked up the fryalator, so we didn't do it too often. But, I digress."

These snippets are from my cousin, describing the signature dish from the restaurant where we grew up. Reading it makes me smile every time--a little story within a story that personalizes the recipe and makes it part of our family history beyond the food itself.

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  1. OH! I loooove your cousin! And I just love those kinds of recipes!

    I have one - this is a recipe for a seafood chowder... did you want the whole recipe? I wasn't sure. It is a darn good recipe, in spite of any excess accidental turmeric.


    Adapted from a few recipes I googled which all looked good but none of which quite fit what I was looking for.

    1 small carrot, diced
    1 stick celery (with leaves), diced
    1/2 onion, diced
    3/4 cup bacon, diced
    a little olive oil for frying
    butter, abt 1/4 cup
    flour, 1/4 cup
    turmeric - optional. I just heard it's good for the memory so I'm using it
    worcestershire sauce
    2 cups stock
    170g can crab meat with brine
    2 or so cups chopped cooked prawns
    1 1/2 cups scallops
    pinch nutmeg
    fresh parsley - about 1/2 cup, chopped
    Light cream (about 1/2 cup)
    brandy, just a dash
    cornstarch slurry for thickening

    1. Fry bacon, onion, carrot and celery in the oil until onion is translucent.
    2. Add butter, let melt, add flour a little at a time until something resembling a roux (with bacon and carrot and celery in it) develops.
    3. Add turmeric. Add way too much turmeric if you want a bright yellow chowder (or if you just assumed that your turmeric had a sprinkle cap when in fact it didn't). Remove as much excess tumeric as you can, try not to swear.
    4. Add a dash of worcestershire sauce, and two cups stock. I just used chicken stock. It worked fine.
    5. Add the seafood, the nutmeg and parsley. Heat through, then add the cream and brandy.
    6. If the mixture needs thickening, stir in a slurry of cornstarch (about 1-2 tablespoons in about 1/4 cup water) and bring it to a simmer (try not to let it boil)

    Once you're quite sure the scallops are cooked through, it's ready to serve. If the yellow bothers you too much, consume in semi-darkness.

    Notes: I think it worked quite ok. Next time I might increase the roux (the butter and the flour) just so it's thicker. Oh, and reduce the amount of turmeric (that goes without saying). I was actually trying to re-create a most *AMAZING* chowder I had in New Zealand last year, and while this wasn't it, it was still pretty good. Give me time and a few tweaks and I might achieve it.

    1 Reply
    1. re: ursy_ten

      Thanks, I love him, too.

      The turmeric instructions/comments are classic kitchen comedy! With all that extra turmeric, she probably can recite the recipe by heart now. ;)

    2. My favorite was from a recipe my dear mother-in-law gave me for Orange Cranberry bread when I was dating my husband. No oven temp given and it ended with "Cook until done".

      She also was the source for another of our favorites. She was an amzing pie baker and we realized we needed to learn as well so went to help one year when she made the Thanksgiving pies. I thought my husband was going to die laughing when she said "Now add lumps of Crisco". We asked how big was a lump and she replied a soup spoon size. Thankfully my husband picked up her knack for making the crusts but we never make the pies without laughing over the lumps.

      2 Replies
      1. re: annl

        I love ALL of these--yours, ursy_ten's and buttertart's, too. Surely there must be more...hmmm.

        1. re: kattyeyes

          Another of my mom's from another recipe card done at the same time, on her chocolate chip squares recipe - "Can add chopped, salted peanuts on top. I don't." (I can hear her asaying it, 100% a my mom remark.)

      2. My favorite is a recipe card my mom wrote out for me - the recipe is for a labor-intensive pecan chiffon pie that she made especially for my then to-be husband (made it seldom because it was a lot of work) when he mentioned that he loved pecan pie (him thinking the American corn syrup one). She asked him how he liked it and he (never one to speak anything but the truth as he sees it) said "It's very good but I prefer the other style of pie, actually, Mrs. C".
        The recipe card? Titled "Pecan Chiffon Pie" and subtitled "THIS IS A FAMILY FAVOURITE" in caps and underlined 2x.
        So there, Mister Smarty Pants.

        1. I have a wonderful one from my dad; his handwritten recipe for chiles rellenos. His "thing" was to hang out with his buddy McR of a Sunday morning, elevenish; they'd knock back a tequila shot or two and commence with the making of the rellenos. Guess things got a little outta-hand one particular Sunday, though, because there's a line drawn through the recipe card now, with the instructions, "have pizza delivered." :) And another fab. one from Gramma Ida, for her supreme noodle kugel, with the bottom instruction: "Remember to remove Saran."

          2 Replies
            1. re: buttertart

              Cryovacced Kugel. We knew something was horribly wrong, that mistakes had been made, when Dad practically needed an axe to cut it into portions. And then, all THAT work for nothing too. :)
              I miss Gramma Ida.