Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cook Down Memory Lane

Lauren Marie’s Gluten Free
Isn't it amazing how the taste or even the smell of a dish can completely transport you back to a specific time and place?  That is probably one of my favorite things about good food. Everyone has family recipes that are passed down from generation to generation, not only because those recipes are tried and true, but also because attached to those recipes are priceless sentimental values that you just can't get anywhere else.

When I cook a family recipe, I always think about the person or people who used to make it.  When I make flan, I always think about my grandmother. I think about how her hands you used to do the same thing that mine are doing.  I wonder what kinds of things were going on in her life when she made all those flans.  Who was she making the flan for?  Was there music playing? (Knowing my grandmother, yes, and it probably was a song by Julio Iglesias.  She LOVED him!)

I also always think of my mom, who still makes my grandmother's recipe today.  I remember when Patrick and I threw our first big party.  I was going crazy with all the things I had to do!  My mom offered to make a flan for dessert and it totally saved me! She not only made it, but she drove it to Patrick's office so he could take it home with him.  And of course, it was a big hit at the party!   

I also remember another time when my mom left the flan in the oven a little too long (my mother never sets a timer for anything!).  She served it to the whole family at lunch the next day.  And you know what?  It was surprisingly caramelized and still to this day, one of the best flans she has ever made!   

And as I stand in my kitchen and mix together the eggs and the vanilla or put the flan into the oven, I just can't help but think of all those memories. Sometimes it seems that the stories attached to these special dishes are just as important as a crucial step in the recipe.  And that's how I feel about my Citrus Chicken Pasta.  It was one of the first big meals I ever made for Patrick, so it holds a very special place in my heart.  

You see, our first year of marriage wasn't quite filled with amazing food.  I was working long night and weekend shifts at a local TV station and Patrick was in grad school full time.  Needless to say, we didn't have a lot of free time on our hands to spend in the kitchen.  But I do have to give Patrick some props... he did a lot of the cooking that year!

When the year was up and Patrick graduated, we temporarily moved to South Florida so he could train for his new job.  We lived in a tiny corporate apartment for three months.  It was a weird feeling.  It didn't feel like home (the furniture wasn't even ours!). We didn't know the area at all and our schedule had drastically changed.  Now it was Patrick working the long hours starting early in the morning.  But there we were...just us newlyweds, our little puppy Rosie (who we sneaked in..shhhh) and lots of hope.  We did the best we could to make it feel like home. Of course, it all started in the kitchen.  And one of those dishes to come out of that tiny corporate apartment kitchen was my Citrus Chicken Pasta.

It has since gotten quite an upgrade with a little white wine and some fresh rosemary.  But every time I cook it and every time I taste it, I think back to that time in that little corporate apartment when all we really had was each other.  And I don't think it's a coincidence that this is one Patrick's favorite dinner requests to this day.

And who knows? Maybe years from now someone else will be cooking this recipe and making their own memory that will always be just a quick sauté away.