My mother chased me out of the kitchen not wanting me in the way, but my grandmother invited me in. She’d married at fifteen and had no clue how to cook much to her husband’s regret. It took years for her to perfect her cooking skills, which allowed her to support herself after her husband’s early demise. She wanted me to learn how to cook as soon as possible.
My first paying job consisted of making salads and desserts. Unlike most teens, who felt working in dietary was on par with purgatory, I loved it. My efforts showed and the nursing staff let me know they missed me when I was gone. On my days off, there were no chef salads or rich Better than Sex chocolate cake. I made head cook in a brief time, which was slightly uncomfortable for me since the other cooks were middle aged.
I went on to cook for pay another decade and even took on some waitressing jobs too. While my friends would read their horoscopes in magazines, I checked out the recipes. Most folks were hooked on popular sitcoms, I watched Rachel Ray and the Iron Chef. I even dated a chef briefly, but surprisingly he didn’t like to talk about food or cook since it was his job.
So, yes, I like to cook, but because I cook I’m aware of the puffery of cooking. People who use terms such as Bain-marie instead of water bath. I refuse to do this in my books. There are recipe ingredients that I’d never find unless I drove the three hours to Jungle Jim’s International Grocery. Then there is the time involved in making certain dishes too. (I only make stuffed grape leaves once a year because I don’t look forward to spending an hour stuffing and rolling grapes leaves. I always make a big batch because there’s no sense in making a small one.) Donna, my sleuth in The Painted Lady Inn Mysteries series, would probably pass on the grape leaves due to being busy running an inn and solving murders.
With this is mind, I search for recipes that have easy obtainable ingredients, clear instructions, and limited preparation time, then I tweak them to make them mine. I’m still using the easy fudge recipe I learned in scouts that has only two ingredients. Ironically, my family prefers it over the harder to make and slightly grainy traditional fudge. Unlike, Charles Schulz, who never owned a beagle, I do own a dog like Jasper and I do cook.
My cooking misadventures sometimes end up in the books too. I forgot to turn on the oven for salmon crabcakes. I ended up frying them and when that didn't cook them through, I microwaved them, so we could eat before eight pm. Look for that in book seven, Weddings Can be Murder, which will be out in August 2017.
There’s a lot of my mother in Donna, and perhaps a little bit of me too, especially the cooking part.
Set-up: 60 minutes
Servings: depends on how much you like fudge, but at least twelve.
1-12 oz. package of high grade semi-sweet or dark chocolate chips. (The cheaper the brand the grainy it will be. Milk chocolate doesn’t set up as well.)
1 can 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk (I use Eagle, but it depends on what is available in your area.)
- Butter an 8x8 square pan. (Make sure to get the sides too.)
- Use a heavy sauce pan (4 quart works better.) Place on medium low burner. Pour in chocolate chips and stir with a wooden spoon to assist in uniform melting.
- When the chips are melted and gooey, slowly pour in the milk while stirring. When it is all the same color, it is time to pour it into your pan.
- Cover the pan with foil and place in the fridge for 60 minutes to set-up. (You’ll be lucky if it stays in the fridge that long if your family knows it’s there.)
You can add in nuts just before you pour it into the pan if you want to.