This book is a tribute to my mother. She worked very hard at raising her children and at being a good wife. She had so many dreams which she had to give up. Her father was an immigrant from Germany in the 1920’s and didn’t believe in educating girls. His reasoning was that girls were only going to grow up, get married and have children, therefore a formal education was a waste. My mother didn’t believe that. She would always say to me, “Susie, find out what it is you can do and do it. Don’t get married right out of high school. You are smart, don’t limit yourself.”
My mother’s name was Ruth. She grew up very poor and had to leave home to work at a very young age. She never finished high school, married at 17 and by the time she was 18, she had her first child. She was not able to finish high school or to further her formal education….but she had dreams, wonderful dreams, which would be fulfilled in her children.
My mother was diagnosed with endometrial cancer at age 54. She had some very good years early in the disease course, but ultimately lost a 15 year battle with this disease. Her life ended quietly at home, in my father’s arms on October 20, 2002. She was 69 years old.
Now, a little bit about me. By profession, I am a Registered Nurse and have been since 1980. I began my career in Massachusetts. I moved to Texas with a job transfer in 1995. Moving to Texas was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. This is where I met the love of my life, my husband Jason. Jason is a wonderful man and is quite an accomplished artist.
Texas is where I began to stretch my culinary skills. Being from New England, if you boiled it, I would eat it. The food that I grew up with was very basic. My mother was an adequate cook. However, she was an extraordinary baker.
Other than my husband, I have 2 passions in life. The first is cooking and the second is singing. Yes, I can cook and yes, I can sing. My dream job after I retire from nursing is to open a small diner.
Family and friends have been asking me to write down and organize all my family recipes along with all the ones that I have developed over the last 12 years along with the ones that I keep coming up with...and I finally decided to commit to the project.
I'm not sure how long this will take and am thinking about setting a deadline. I want to be careful because I don't want the deadline to be too ambitious, but I also don't want it to be too generous.....this will take some careful thought.
The funny thing is, I didn't really start to cook until I was in my late 30's. I had been watching the cooking shows on PBS and loved several of them. I made it a point to be home on Saturday afternoons so that I could watch TV. Some of my early favorites were (of course) Julia Child, Martin Yan, Ming Tsai, Marion Morash of the Victory Garden, Marsha Adams in Cooking from Quilt Country, Jacques Pepin, and the Frugal Gourmet.
I came from a home in which my mother was an adequate cook. She didn't cook anything fancy, just basic food. In fact, she cooked meat until it was dead, buried and resurrected.....meat ALWAYS required something...butter, ketchup, mayonnaise, mustard....anything...to give it enough moisture so that it could be chewed and swallowed. Vegetables were cooked until they were mushy and fell apart. There was nothing bright green or crisp, unless it was the makings for salad.
But....my mother could bake. She could make the most amazing cakes, cookies, breads and pies that anyone could imagine. Any time there was a bake sale, my mom baked for it and her goodies were always a huge hit. The neighborhood kids were always at our house for goodies, particularly my brother and his friends.