Reading Lives: Too Many Cooks

In support of the Culinary Arts program, the Mayfield Library has many cookbooks. Whether you want to cook Southern, explore your Italian side, make breads from around the world, or explore French cuisine with Julia Child, we have the cookbook for you.

This week the reading group shares their cooking experiences:

Colette: There’s a saying in my family; whenever something goes terribly wrong, or when the reality of a thing falls far short of one’s expectations, we call it a “Jelly Roll.”  If, for example, I went on a camping trip and spent the whole trip huddled in a tent while the rain poured down in buckets, I’d say that the trip was, “a total Jelly Roll.”  This saying comes from an ill-fated attempt on my part to impress a new love interest with my cooking.

 Normally, I pride myself on being a good cook, but the best laid plans sometimes turn into an unservable mess on the kitchen counter.  I was going to make a chocolate jelly roll – the perfect cherry to top off a scrumptious dinner.  In the magazine picture, it was a beautiful alternating spiral of thin chocolate cake and whipped cream, rolled into a log which is sliced and placed flat on a plate.  When done correctly, it is the Golden Ratio of desserts; however, my jelly roll didn’t have any roll to it.  It had more cracks than mud in a drought, so when I attempted to roll it into a log, it dropped huge hunks of itself on the counter and on the floor.  I had bits and pieces everywhere.  Plus I’d whipped the cream too long, so it was as close to butter as whipped cream can get, without actually being spread on toast.  When all was said and done, it looked like one of those baking soda and vinegar volcanoes that kids make in fourth grade.  I threw it in the trash and started again.  The second jelly roll turned out exactly the same…a mountain of crumbly nothing, topped with butter.  Needless to say, I think I served a dish of ice cream that night and I have not tried to make it since.

Emily: My mom set me loose with the oven and the Kitchen Aid mixer at a relatively young age. Cookies were my specialty; and one summer in elementary school I stood on a stool and baked them each and everyday. I also ate them each and everyday, which resulted in what my grandmother refers to as my “chunky summer.” In honor of my “chunky summer,” here’s my favorite cookie recipe of the moment.  And, if you want to have your own chunky summer, here’s my “Sweets” Pinterest board to keep you busy trying new recipes. 

Pam: Snippets of memories come to mind as I recall trying to learn to cook and how my mother would get SO FRUSTRATED with me worrying about the details, such as the memory of me asking her if I needed to level off the baking soda with a knife to make sure it was perfectly 1/2 tablespoon. Exasperated after so many questions from me, she snapped “OH, PAM, just dump it in there”! I was always so messy, too. I know that’s not surprising, as I’ve even been nicknamed “Pig Pen” for anyone who knows the flurry of debris I leave behind, crumbs, fuzz balls, napkins, and let’s not mention the back seat of my vehicle – which my landlord teases me to be renting to someone who lives there! But, to follow my trail in the kitchen is truly a dream come true for Hansel and Gretel! Perhaps my greatest feat was when I first started working at Nashville State and didn’t know how to make chili but was determined to enter the Chili Cook-off. True, I had once stirred together some hamburger and tomato paste and chili powder when I was 22 and living in Eureka Springs, Arkansas for a summer, buuut, I didn’t really know how to make it. I scoured cookbooks, asked Sara Maxwell how, asked Charles May how, called Mom, blah, blah, blah, and finally I just decided to use my head and put in it what I thought would be delicious. I literally tossed together garlic, sausage, ground chuck, lots of spices and an entire stick of butter and carried my pot proudly to school (I didn’t even own a crock pot). And, I WON THE 1st PLACE BLUE RIBBON! Ha! I have never been any prouder! I pinned that baby on my blouse and wore it around campus the entire day! Now, time to go home and make one of my favorite recipes from Mom – chocolate fried pies! Hey, Mom, do I need to add grease to the ….? “OH, PAM, just dump it in there”!

Sally: My favorite cookbook is one that I got for Christmas from my parents when I was probably in 4th or 5th grade. It’s the Kids in the Kitchen cookbook.  The recipes are arranged “Beginner”, “Intermediate”, and “Advanced”. My favorite recipe is “Springtime Salad”. My other favorite recipe is one that I clipped from a magazine a long time ago because I like hotdogs. It’s called “if you’re Hungry for Hotdogs”. It’s a stir-fry recipe. My other favorite cookbook is one the library does have, A Taste of Homecoming by Daisy King.  It has some great Tennessee stories and recipes. 

Jolly Librarian: I am not known for my prowess in the kitchen. In fact, when I first moved to Nashville, I was invited to a cookout. I was told just to bring an onion to put on the hamburgers, which was the hostess’s way of saying that she was not going to ask for more than I could give. So on my way to the party, I stopped by the grocery and bought one nice fat onion. I’m still not sure why everyone mocked me about proudly plopping an unwashed, unsliced onion on the kitchen table.


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