As a child I watched cooking shows for entertainment with the same enthusiasm and attention I gave to The Jetsons, Brady Bunch, The Munsters and other 60s and 70s shows. It fascinated me that there were people who made culinary magic in the kitchen. I had the heart of an artist and appreciated the skill and beauty of bringing together a variety of ingredients to create a glorious dish the way a painter uses colors to create a picture.
The two biggies; Julia Child and Graham Kerr captivated me at a very young age. They both had such unique voices and an effervescent passion that came through the screen and added to the intrigue. I loved the music their words created and the way they bopped around with their shiny cooking utensils. I watched them regularly but it never dawned on me in those days to get in the kitchen myself and try a recipe out. There wasn’t a lot of cooking excitement or experimentation in my childhood home. Mom’s interests were elsewhere and Dad didn’t cook a meal until he retired. Meals were all about convenience. My parents wanted food that was quick and easy and neither had an interest in becoming a Matisse in the kitchen.
In high school I discovered Art Ginsburg, a.k.a. Mr. Food. Mr. Food’s syndicated cooking segments were a regular part of our local New York news programming and when he jumped onto my screen each day, his charm, warmth and cozy demeanor lit it up and drew me in. There was a comfy way about him and an everyman quality to his appearance that had me wishing I knew him personally. I’d sometimes daydream that he was in my kitchen getting dinner ready and when it was ready he’d say his signature “Ooh it’s so good!”. Mr. Food was the originator of Quick and Easy Cooking and watching him over time got me thinking I could do more in the kitchen then open a can and heat up a pot of ravioli
One of the first cookbooks I bought for myself was The Mr. Food Cookbook published in 1989. I was delighted to see his friendly face on the cover and took it as my invitation to enter the world of cooking creatively. It was the perfect vehicle for my transition from mostly canned and frozen foods to fresh ingredients paired with those conveniences. From this book I learned quick and easy could be tasty and satisfying.
It’s been a while since I took this book off the shelf. With multiple moves around the country over the past eleven years, it spent some time packed away in boxes and couldn’t be found and didn’t get unpacked until subsequent moves years later. It’s amazing how time flies by. I got to thinking about it just the other day because when we moved here to California, I happily found it in pristine condition in one of my box openings and immediately placed it safely in my cookbook cupboard; it was like being reunited with a long time friend. The other day I was talking to my ten year old daughter and asked if she remembered the Turkey Cranberry Meatloaf I used to make. The blank expression on her face made me realize it had been at least ten years since I made it and “Ooh It’s So Good!!!!”.
Cranberry Chicken Loaf (I use ground turkey)
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 cup whole-berry cranberry sauce
2 pounds ground chicken or turkey
3/4 cup (6 ounces) evaporated milk
2 tablespoons bottled steak sauce
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 teaspoon prepared mustard
3/4 cup cracker crumbs
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or to taste)
2 tablespoons diced onion
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9-inch loaf pan. Sprinkle the brown sugar over the bottom of the pan.
Spread the cranberry sauce evenly over the sugar; set aside.
In a large bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients; mix thoroughly.
OK, some people might consider the picture above to be icky, but I love it. I love the look of all those ingredients plopped together and the anticipation of digging my hands into it’s cold messiness. It takes me back to my preschool days, helping my Nana in the kitchen every time. Love it!
Shape mixture into a loaf until smooth and firm.
Bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until done. Let set in pan for about 5 minutes, then invert loaf onto a serving platter.
Note: The sugar and the cranberry sauce combine to make a rich sweet-and-sour topping.
Beyond delicious. My family was gaga for this one! Oh and what did I serve with it? I flipped through the pages and came upon this recipe for Broccoli Pancakes. I made them with spinach because I had a craving for it. These pancakes were such a hit I made them two times after and my husband has asked for them again. They are SO easy…crazy easy to make and “Ooh So Good!”.
1 1/2 cups chopped fresh broccoli (spinach) or 1 package frozen chopped, thawed and drained
1/2 cup pancake or biscuit baking mix
Vegetable Oil for frying
If using fresh broccoli, boil or steam it for 3 to 5 minutes just until crisp-tender. Plunge it immediately into a bowl of cold water to keep it crisp. Drain in a strainer, pressing out excess water with the back of a spoon. Combine the pancake mix, egg, and salt in a large bowl; mix well. Mix in the drained broccoli. Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet. Drop mixture by spoonfuls (about 2 tablespoons per pancake) into hot oil, being careful not to crowd pan. Cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown. Repeat with remaining batter, adding more oil to the pan if necessary. Serve warm or cold.
My family wants me to make this meal every day. I will definitely be making it a part of our regular rotation because once again, “Ooh It’s So Good!”.