All types of cooking have basic foundations, from the Three Sisters of Native American cooking (squash, beans and corn) to the Mirepoix of French cooking (onions, celery and carrots). They vary from region to region but all of these aromatic blends are used to define a region and are the foundation of local dishes.
This collection of recipes are my foundation, they are as much a part of me and my life as my family and friends. I was blessed to belong to a family of good cooks and even more blessed to have inherited this talent along with many coveted recipes.
Some of my best childhood memories revolve around the kitchen or the art of cooking. Sitting at the kitchen table as our mother cooked, talking about our day at school or just watching the carrot tops grow in a bowl of water I found comfort in the sights, sounds and smells coming from the cooking area. And I can never smell fresh baked bread without thinking of standing at my fathers side while he made rolls and breads for the holidays.
My grandmothers kitchen also held wonderful joys to a young child and even eating at the kitchen table with Aunt Mary Edith her housekeeper was not punishment but a treat. I was a young adult before I sat at the dinning room table and to tell you the truth I missed the kitchen, painted soft yellow with black and white tiles on the floor, the room seemed to smile when you walked in.
Though my grandmother never had the chance to teach me how to cook, I did inherit her cookbooks and have spent years pouring over these and her recipe files and notes. From stories I have been told she loved to entertain as much as I do and often hosted some event or the other. I know that she always seemed to make even the most simple lunch a special affair. She would take my grandfather his peanut butter sandwich, glass of tea and side of coleslaw on a tray dressed up with the best silverware, linens and a flower from the garden.
For years I have thrown a party for any rhyme or reason, St Patrick’s Day, Halloween, Christmas, birthdays, engagements, open houses, etc. After catering our daughter Becki’s wedding everyone wanted to know why I didn’t cater; well time, money and energy are the three main reasons I never chose this profession. But I have thought about it and decided that I would just share my secrets including my recipes.
If you happened to eat at our house or have attended a social function where I was a guest you have likely eaten one of these dishes. Many of them have been in my family for years and some are new additions that we have adapted to our taste and are fast becoming favorites. Others have been shared by family and friends and I thought I would include those as well.
I have also included a few recipes that I were given to me by an old friend (Sue) from Ireland, some I have tried and some I have not, but felt that they needed to be here as Ireland is where my roots began and the love for the land and people is in my genes.
This is my gift to you, my family and my friends who are a vital part of the foundation of who I am. May you use this book with love and may your next meal, party or covered dish supper be a huge success.
Since I originally wrote this forward I have decided to combine this cookbook into a blog, I hope you enjoy the recipes and stories of my family and welcome all your comments.