“Food for the Soul,” Dec. 26, 2018

(NOTE: I’m taking off this week for the holidays. I hope you take some time off, too! The following is a “replacement” column. It first ran Dec. 20, 2011.)

Did somebody say eat? All I have to do is mention food in a column and I will hear from enough readers to polish off an all-you-can-eat buffet. They’re kind enough to say they like my column, but what they really want is a recipe.

Not that I blame them. I like food, too. Especially if someone else cooks it. That’s what my husband is doing as I write this. Listen. Can you hear him out in the kitchen, humming away, chopping garlic, banging pots, splattering grease…?

The man loves to cook. But he recently started a project (with the help of his younger son) that he has wanted to do for years, collecting family recipes _ his own, his mom’s, his sister’s, even mine _ plus a few handed down from his grandmothers.

More than just recipes, he wants to include photos and stories, the kinds of anecdotes and memories that add meaning and flavor to any family meal.

I, for instance, can provide a recipe for my kids’ top vote for “Mom’s home cooking”: Kraft Macaroni & Cheese. (To prepare it, follow the directions on the box.) On special occasions, I’d add hotdogs, applesauce and peas. I am not making that up.

Over time, I’ve expanded my recipe file, a fact for which my husband is grateful. It’s been years since I bought Mac & Cheese. But when I see it on the grocery shelf, I smile.

Apparently, reading all those recipes whetted my husband’s appetite for cooking. For dinner tonight, he announced that he would make Lemon Coriander Chicken, a recipe he picked up long ago, living in London. He started talking about it after lunch, the steps it involved, all the ingredients required.

“Do we have black mustard seeds?” he said, all excited.

I laughed. Then I realized he was actually serious.

“Um, we might have pepper,” I said.

Minutes later, he left with a list and was gone for two hours, part of which included buying a blender to replace the one I had broken. Never mind how.

He came home with five bags of groceries and a shiny new blender he needed to make the coriander sauce. Unfortunately, it was missing a gasket. The blender, not the sauce.

“No wonder it was on sale,” he said, clomping out the door. An hour later he was back with a not-on-sale blender and a notably less enthusiastic spirit.

“Are you sure you want to do this?” I said. “I can make pizza.”

“Absolutely,” he said, “you go work on your column.”

So I did. I planned to write about “Dutch babies,” a kind of puffed pancake I’d mentioned recently in a column, that prompted some of you (you know who you are) to beg for the recipe. Here it is:

Melt a stick of butter in a cast iron skillet in a 425 degree oven. Mix 5 eggs, 1 c. of milk and 1 c. of flour in an unbroken blender. Pour batter over butter, bake 20 minutes until puffy and golden. Serve with fruit or a squeeze of lemon and dust with powdered sugar.

The recipe is simple. What it means to me is not. I could never in the space of a column begin to tell you about all the times I’ve made it for family and friends, for my children’s sleepovers, all the stories behind it, all the memories it conjures up, how happy it makes me to take it out of the oven and watch it fall, once again, flat.

Any food can fill a stomach. But family food _ good, bad or even out of a box, seasoned with stories, fragrant with memories, stirred with a labor of love _ can fill the most homesick of hearts.

I posted a more detailed recipe for Dutch Babies on my website (sharonrandall.com) under “Recipes.” You’ll have to ask my husband how to make Lemon Coriander Chicken.



  1. Donna F. Decker says

    It is such a pleasure to read you online since our paper no longer carries your column. It was the highlight of my Sunday paper. Wishing you and your family a happy and healthy new year. My husband does not cook but I have a grandson who loves to cook and he is pretty good at it. Good thing since he has 4 kiddies and mom works long days. I think it is a great attribute to a man to be interested in stepping up when mom is helping to bring home the bacon. Keep the great stories coming.

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