I think it's important to note, however, that for me, cooking has always been a hobby. Except for a few short years in college and graduate school, I never needed to cook to survive. For nearly half a century, Grandma Karen ensured her family was always well fed and well nourished. When I cooked, it was a diversion, a stress reliever; it was relaxing and it was fun. It also served a purpose; it fed the family for a day or two. It was an ideal hobby. It still is.
When I wrote the introductory material for this web site, I promised simple, reliable recipes. During the past several months, as I reviewed and edited each recipe for inclusion here, I began to realize that many of my recipes require an ingredient that not everyone has available to them – time! Being retired now, it's easy to overlook (or simply forget) the years when our family "joke" was: if we can't cook it, eat it, and clean up after it in less than an hour, we don't have it! That's an exaggeration, of course, but the fact remains. Some recipes are simply less practical than others for on-the-go families – at least some of the time.
In an earlier blog, I remembered my grandmother being constantly in her kitchen. I can’t say the same for my mother. In addition to her responsibilities raising a family, she worked outside her home much of her life. We always ate well, but meals requiring extra preparation times typically were reserved for weekends or special occasions.
There were some exceptions. When my mother (or oftentimes my father) prepared tomato sauce and meatballs, they would almost always make multiple batches. Three hours of work would ensure several meals over the course of the next week or so. There was almost always sauce and meatballs in the refrigerator ready to be reheated for a quick meal. A hard roll, a meatball, a scoop of sauce, and a sprinkling of Romano cheese made an incredible meatball sandwich in less than five minutes! To this day, I seldom prepare less than a double batch of tomato sauce; and I still enjoy those spur-of-the moment meatball sandwiches. Some things never change.
My favorite recipe for meatloaf is another exception. When it comes out of the oven, we usually serve it with a baked potato and a side vegetable. Inevitably, there also will be some left for the next day. Cold, and sliced thin, it makes another delicious sandwich. I like mine with catchup, but any condiment will work.
The point of all this is simple. Even recipes that require extra preparation time can be fit into busy schedules. It takes some advance planning and some refrigerator space, but I’m convinced the rewards are worth the time and effort.