My mother made getting a meal on the table, every night, look flawless to a then 14 year old girl. No pot or pan ever made it to the table… everything was in a serving dish (I know because my sister and I hand washed all those dishes immediately after the meal). Best of all, there was almost always dessert. Her recipes were housed in a large wooden recipe box and it didn’t take long for us to figure out if the box made an appearance, something good was sure to follow.
Fast forward a few decades. I’m a blessed 40-ish-year-old momma of five beautiful and busy kids ranging in age from six-month-old twins to 16 years! My husband is my biggest cheerleader and my rock. I love that our kitchen is the place where we gather as a family and have important discussions, laugh at a story, cry about mishaps and celebrate great moments. The reality is that while I very much enjoy cooking and trying new recipes, there are nights when a frozen pizza from a box is the best thing I’ve seen all day. And those serving dishes, well, we plate many of our meals buffet style from a pan on the stove and the dishwasher does the dirty work as we scurry off to the evening’s activities.
Baking is what I enjoy the most. Homemade breads and cinnamon rolls, cookies and pies, cakes and cupcakes. I tend to tinker a bit with recipes to fit my family’s tastes. At the New Orleans School of Cooking, my senses were introduced to how using high quality spices can really impact a recipe. Where I can use generic ingredients I do, but spices are where I splurge.
Sundays are planning days. Each child fills me in on what their schedule for the week is. I plan a menu that will provide the least stressful path for me to satisfy tummies (and leave a few leftovers for hubs and I to eat for lunch the next day). I like to make what I consider are real recipes with real ingredients. If I can’t find an ingredient at the local store, the recipe won’t likely make it onto my menu. I like recipes that can be doubled or cut in half to meet our needs on a specific night.
Providing a meal is more than just satisfying a basic human need. It’s a pathway to a snapshot in time where, just for a moment, things might slow down and intimate conversations take place around the table. It’s that moment when your daughter opens her lunch cooler on the way to a softball game and finds her favorite monster cookies with a sticky note saying “I love you!” Sometimes it’s as simple as a warm bowl of soup on a cold night when your son has had a bad day to make him feel unconditionally loved.
Sharing and swapping recipes with friends provides a treasure trove of possibilities to keep the menu fresh and to keep this experimental cook on her toes. I hope you will consider me a friend as I share recipes from Sutton Central, a place of mass chaos yet complete organization. Rest assured, if I haven’t tested it out on my family, I won’t share it. Most of my recipes are quick and simple as well as budget friendly. Oh and did I mention my obsession with aprons…