Saturday, August 21, 2010

Making concessions for others

Have you ever changed a recipe for the sake of another person only to find you regret it. When I was in college, I was new at making meals for others, and being the people pleaser that I am, I always tried to make everyone happy. I offered to make spaghetti one night for a small crowd (4 or 5 people), but one person was a vegetarian. Well, back then, the only way I knew to make spaghetti was using the spaghetti sauce spice packet. Brown the meat, add the spice packet, some water, and a can of tomato paste.

(Okay, I just spent the past 20 minutes searching through my photos - real photos before digital existed - for a shot of this time period, but I can't find any! Where have all my college photos gone?)

Anyway, this vegetarian, who apparently didn't know much about food, said he'd be happy putting the tomato paste on his spaghetti. (YUCK!) So I attempted to make spaghetti sauce without the tomato paste. So instead of feeding all my friends a yummy meal and giving the vegetarian buttered noodles, I ended up serving everyone an awful excuse of a meal. Blech!

And another time, I decided to make a spaghetti squash casserole that I found in my Moosewood cookbook. (See, this time I decided to fix a purely vegetarian meal, in the event that damn vegetarian showed up again.) There was some ingredient in there that my boyfriend at the time said he didn't like. (I think it was ricotta cheese.) So what do I do? I leave it out. I may have snuck sneaked a little bit in, but it was bland bland bland.

So you would think after all these years of cooking and perfecting recipes, I'd have learned, wouldn't you? Well, last Frances had a friend over and they requested cookies for dessert. Their teacher at school had made them homemade cookies as some kind of reward and had mentioned that his secret ingredient was oatmeal. That jogged my memory and I was able to track down an old yummy recipe for cookies with oatmeal and chocolate chips - sort of a glorified tollhouse. I remembered them being really yummy. Well, since I'm a recovering pack rat, I was able to search my computer and find the recipe. The only problem - it contained walnuts. My kids, for some strange reason, do not eat nuts. So what do I do? I leave out the nuts (and I doubled the vanilla and halved the cinnamon - again because I was worried Frances wouldn't like them). Well, I'll be the first to tell you, "Blech!" They were no good. I used to think anything I made with butter and sugar and whatnot is bound to be pretty good. But these were not. Elsie's the only one in our house eating them, but she's thrilled because she can pretend that I made them all just for her.

But I didn't give up. I did make them palatable tonight by breaking one into pieces into a glass, adding some broken up walnuts, and pouring milk over the whole thing. I at it with a spoon like it was a bowl of cereal. Mmm . . . it was pretty good.

(And the picture above was taken in Leslie's kitchen. Notice all the requisites for a college kitchen: cookie dough, beer, and a sink full of dishes.)

So, have you flopped or flourished when you made concessions for others?

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