Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Turkey Divan and fear of pie-ing

When I was growing up, my mother was a competent cook who presented the simple, basic foods of the day. She didn't experiment much but stuck to her familiar repertoire. We had homemade sloppy joes, chili, boiled dinners, fish sticks, awesome potato and macaroni salads, and the occasional breakfast for dinner (which began my guilty love affair with Spam).

I still occasionally get a craving for macaroni mixed with sliced hot dogs and tomato soup or stewed tomatoes.

She occasionally made homemade bread, pickles, cinnamon rolls, and the best brownies I've ever eaten.

At the time I couldn't tell how she felt about cooking. It seemed like something that just needed to get done, and registered a sort of emotional neutral.

With two notable exceptions.

First, pie crust. For some reason making pie crust sent her into a tizzy. She had a primal fear of tearing. I eventually learned to leave the house when pie was in the making.

The results always turned out beautifully; the fluting on the crust looked like a picture from a magazine. I can't replicate it.

But was it really worth it?

Keep in mind, this was before the days of Xanax, and she wasn't a drinker. Where was all that angst supposed to go?

To this day, the legacy of crust avoidance continues. I still fear the pie shell. I can only pray that my children will break the cycle and step into tart freedom. But only time will tell.

The second example of Mom's emotional cooking was the day she made chicken divan for a ladies event.

My mother was never the kind of woman who attended bridge parties or things of that sort. She was too busy working. I'm not sure what event therefore prompted the divan debacle, but it did involve ladies. And so I couldn't help but notice the recipe below, the starring dish of a Ladies Luncheon menu.

Looking back I know that it wasn't the recipe itself that gave her agita. Especially now, when I see her making spinach souffles, marinated asparagus, complicated desserts and many other dishes.

It was Something Else.

I'm guessing her fear was all about expectations. She didn't want to disappoint anyone. Same as with the pies.

Luckily she no longer seems to be burdened with such unnecessary food fears. Cooking after all is about love, and sharing. It is a gift of self, and should be judged as such.

That being said, I don't think I've ever made chicken divan. Nor am I planning to.

But for those of you adrenalin junkies who like to live on the edge, here's the recipe from the book.

Turkey Divan

1 1/2 lb. fresh broccoli or 2 pkg. (10oz. each) frozen broccoli spears
6 slices turkey (about 1/4" thick) or 1 1/2 to 2 cups pieces of turkey
6 slices cheese
1 can (14 1/2oz.) evaporated milk
1 can (10 1/2oz.) mushroom soup
1 can (3 1/2oz.) French fried onion rings

Heat oven to 350 degrees (mod.). Cook broccoli to crisp-tender stage. Put turkey in bottom of oblong baking dish, 11 1/2 x 7 1/2 x 1 1/2". Cover with broccoli; top with cheese slices and cover with mixture of milk and soup. Bake 25 min. Cover with onion rings and bake 5 min. more. 4 to 6 servings.

1 comment:

  1. Cooking mixed with memories,family and laughter.Reading this was like desert.