We don’t know if any of you have realized this yet, but we’re working with cookbooks and the community.
It’s okay. Take a moment to compose yourselves. It’s understandable to be shocked.
But seriously, with a topic such as this that drives us to examine the role of our university’s cookbook collection in the community, we feel that we would be remiss if we didn’t add a bit of ourselves into this project. You know, to hold true to the whole communal aspect of it all. We’ve spent weeks looking at differences between cookbooks within the collection, from commercial ones to ones more reflective of personal experiences, and more often than not we find ourselves comparing our discoveries to our own experiences growing up and cooking, both with our families and by ourselves.
And besides, isn’t the whole point of a project like this to engage with it?
So without further ado, here we are—the lives of the humble site runners/projecteers Dakota and Kinsey, as told through our own miniature cookbooks.
Though I’ve lived nowhere but North Carolina, my parents hail from New York, so the products of our kitchen have always been an interesting mix of the two cultures (though I only really realized it when I sat down with this project). Both of my parents cook, but not overwhelmingly frequently; I know that my mom isn’t a huge fan of it. (I feel you, Mom.) I do know, though, that all of us can admit that there are a few meals that just kind of click with us, and they’ve been staples of the household for a long time.
- When we’re in the mood for mac and cheese, there’s no such thing as Kraft in our house. When we go, we go big. We always cook up a batch of this stuff when we’re in the mood—and while it’s admittedly not a dish that shows up every week or anything, it’s still one that we can devour in one night if we aren’t careful. Dad found the recipe somewhere years ago, and after a few tweaks we made it our own. It’s one of the dishes I most vividly remember making with him before I became the mac-and-cheese queen of the house, but even if I make it alone it’s still great to see them smile when they walk in the kitchen and just breathe in the scent.
- This is the first dish I brought into the family entirely on my own, and it was all because of my Humanities professor’s life-changing chili. I wanted something that could measure up to that miracle, so I got to hunting, and eventually I found something that I felt comfortable customizing. Coincidentally, this is also one of the few recipes that I know while my parents do not, due partially to a desire on my part to assert my dominance over at least one dish in our kitchen. So far: success.
- I’m all for buying dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets from Harris Teeter because I’m a bona fide adult like that, but they’ll never even come close to my mother’s recipe for chicken nuggets. I remember helping her make them all the time when I was younger; she would always put me on crushing duty (crushing the Corn Flakes for breading), and I would go ballistic. The kitchen would be filled with banging sounds for a while as I experimented with crushing tools ranging anywhere from my fists to rolling pins (or whatever I grabbed out of the drawer first).
- This recipe for spinach lasagna came to our kitchen through my wonderful girlfriend, who in turn got it from her grandmother, who in turn got it from someone named Georgie. Who’s Georgie? We don’t know, but they apparently make a mean spinach lasagna.
- Sure, Swiss Miss is decent, but why resort to that if you have the ingredients to make this hot cocoa? My father found the recipe years ago and we’ve been making it ever since—mostly in the winter around the holidays, but nothing ever stops us from making it anytime else if we get a craving. I’ll be the first to admit that my first resort is usually Swiss Miss with water (I know, I know, shame on me, but it’s only because I have minimal fridge space and don’t have my own kitchen), but you can bet your last dollar that as soon as I get my own kitchen in May I’ll be making some. Doesn’t everyone make hot cocoa year-round?
- If you’re up for some experimenting, then this recipe for apple cider is for you. My father and I cheat a bit; we buy apple cider from the store to use as our base, and then respice it ourselves—but come on, the spice is where the substance is. Thing is, there are no set ingredient measurements because my father prefers to eye this. Super convenient for people like me who, you know, can’t eye anything.
- Need a quick appetizer for a family dinner or something? Well, here are two. These are small so I’m lumping them together, but they’re low-effort and are always gone within half an hour of arrival. They’re my mother’s go-to for fast party food.
To put it quite frankly, I don’t know how families and friends operate if food isn’t a part of that relationship, because it has always been a part of mine. My dad’s family is rooted in the South, where food and family go hand in hand. My mother’s side of the family is enormous (she’s one of nine siblings), so when we all get together, there needs to be food-a lot of it. This abundance of food definitely impacted my life; I have trouble cooking for any group of people smaller than four or five, my first reaction to help others is to feed them, and I will always volunteer to help cook or do dishes. It’s ingrained behavior stemming from a childhood of being in the kitchen. As soon as I was old enough to stir batter, Mom and Nana had me in the kitchen helping them bake. I learned to love all that goes into making food from the flour all over the counter to the dishes at the end.
For me too, it cooking isn’t just a woman thing, but an entire family thing. My Grandpa is one of the best cooks I know, even if he uses, to quote Nana, “every pan and pot in this house for one meal!” Dad and I also cook together whenever I go see him and that is a special kind of fun. We have staples that we eat, like eggs with cheese and sage sausage for breakfast or salmon with brown rice and creamed spinach for dinner. It’s a lot simpler than the kind of cooking that I do with Mom, but it is just as much fun. Plus, it’s only something we’ve started doing together in the past couple of years. I promise that the conversation between us about whether or not I possessed the culinary ability necessary to make a grilled cheese without burning down the house was hilarious.
The motto of my Nana’s house is “If you leave this house feeling hungry or unloved, you did something wrong.” Food, family, and friends go hand in hand. The recipes below are an amalgamation of various family recipes and ones I picked up from others. I hope you enjoy!
- Pickle H’orderves: What are these you ask? The answer is quite simple really: pickles wrapped in cream cheese wrapped in dried beef and then sliced. I know, I know. These sound at best odd and at worst horrible, but the combination of flavors is really quite good. They’re always a party favorite at our house!
- Quiche: Quiche is one of my favorite un-healthy healthy foods. Anything with that much heavy whipping cream in it can’t possible be the best thing for you, but the rest of it is pretty healthy and delicious. Plus, it’s great for people who are constantly on the go since it’s easy to transport and can be eaten warm or cold.
- Baked Salmon with Red Onion and Pineapple: Baked salmon is one of the easiest dinners to prepare. Even large pieces of salmon don’t need more than about 15 minutes in a 400 degree oven to cook. The trick is finding different ways cook it. My go-to is lemon juice, garlic, and pepper, but this version is delicious and great for the summer!
- Summer Pasta Toss: What I love about pasta tosses is their relative ease. Everything gets cooked and then everything gets tossed into one big pot. Tada! This toss is meant to be served room temperature and has lots of fun flavors to work with.
- Hot Chocolate: As much as I love a good mug of tea on cold nights, some days you need to pull in the heavy hitters. This hot chocolate recipe began as your standard from scratch recipe, but evolved over this past fall into the decadent mess that it is. Caution! You don’t really need more than a regular’s mug worth of it.