Monday, August 19, 2013

The Perfect Recipe

My mother was an unbelievable cook. Want to know why Charlie Chaplin enjoyed that boiled shoe so much in The Gold Rush? It was because he used my mother's recipe for Spiced Sole, the one she had pinned to the side of the refrigerator with a magnet, alongside her Famous Rolls recipe and the Funeral Casserole instructions.

She was such a good cook, in fact, that she was constantly asked for recipes, and because she believed delicious food was a gift and not a property, she shared her recipes without thinking twice.

My grandmother also was a good cook, but she had been a Depression mom and had fed her four boys by growing her own food, milking her own cows, raising her own vegetables. When she tried Mom's fabulous recipe for salmon patties, she was disappointed in the outcome.

"I don't know what happened," she told my mother. "I followed your instructions exactly. Except that salmon was pretty expensive, so I substituted tuna, and instead of whole cream I used skim milk, and I didn't want to fry them in butter so I used some bacon grease I had left over."

I thought of that story this weekend when I made "Grandma Ople's Apple Pie" from the For the first time in the 26 years we've lived in the House on the Corner, weather conditions were not too hot and not too cold but juuuuuust right and the apple tree in the back yard produced a bumper crop. Husband and I harvested at least half a bushel of fruit, and I got all housewife-y about making it into a pie.

People, this recipe is really, really good. It looked like the picture (more or less) and it tasted like fall weather on a plate. It was so good that I decided to add my comment to the 5,000+ who already have raved about the recipe's excellence online. That's when I discovered that almost all of those commenters are my grandmother.

"I added a teaspoon of cinnamon, a good dash of nutmeg and a tablespoon of vanilla to the syrup prior to simmering (compensate for adding the vanilla by omitting a tablespoon of that 1/4 cup of water). Next, definitely mix the syrup with the apples rather than trying to pour into the pie (save enough to glaze top crust)...."

"WONDERFUL PIE!!! I heeded other warnings and suggestions on this one. 1. I baked the pie at 350 degrees for the entire time to minimize scorching. 2. I added 2 tablespoons flour and 1 tablespoon cornstarch to the syrup mixture. I also eliminated the water from the syrup mixture which made the pie very thick and gel-like. I also added cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg to the syrup...."

I won't continue because they go on and on (and on) in this vein. "The perfect recipe, so I made these changes..."

Pfffft. It's the perfect recipe. Just make it, or you may end up with Salmon Patties.


  1. These commenters are my mother, who has many good qualities, but baking isn't in her wheelhouse mainly because she constantly trying to substitute things and make changes. Sigh.

  2. This made me laugh! I always chuckle at the million modifications in the comments on recipe sites too. Glad your pie recipe was fantastic as written.

  3. Oh that is my mother. She is wired in such a way that to follow a recipe as it is written is impossible for her.