The Gift That Keeps On Giving

Forever ago, when hubs and I walked down the aisle, food was the last thing on my mind. I had salmonella, after all, and had contracted it from food I didn’t even eat. (Thanks, cross-contamination!) When we opened gifts, however, we received this cookbook.

I think. It could have been a shower gift? I don’t really remember. I don’t remember who gave it to us. If it was you, you’ve saved our mealtime more than once. Thank you.

The Gift That Keeps On Giving

I’ve owned and gotten rid of so many cookbooks over the years, but I consistently return to two of them. This one, and the Betty Crocker book I stole graciously given to me from my parents.

Growing up, Mom was never excited about cooking. She could make a killer meal, but she never really liked to cook. I enjoyed dabbling in it now and then, but it wasn’t until I took Home Economics in the 7th grade, that my love for food reached an entirely new level. (Mrs. Stubblefield, you’re a saint.) When I started learning I could make food – ridiculously tasty food – and fairly simply, I was hooked on cooking.

I used to ask my parents if we could invite people over, so I could cook a meal. I baked goodies after school all the time. I perfected recipes and loved nothing more than making food people would rave about. Mostly, I loved the attention. But cooking extra tasty food was a great vehicle for said attention. So it stuck.

Brent has always been a fan of my cooking. He hasn’t always loved what I cook, but he loves that I actually cook. A growing family and a crazy schedule later, I don’t cook every single night. But when I do, it’s pretty tasty.

This cookbook, however, has been the inspiration behind many a meal. And dessert. And bread. For the last almost-13 years, it’s been my go-to for recipes and ideas on feeding my family.

Last week I was feeling especially domestic and had all kinds of adventures going in the kitchen. I made pot roast, and apple cake, alongside a couple of apple pies and cooked some pumpkins to use for the famous pumpkin pie I make each fall. This book saved my tail in the way of the apple cake.

Yum & Yes, Please!

It never gets put away – it stays out on the kitchen counter for how often I reference its pages. After we were married, I made my first-ever Chicken A La King from this cookbook and catered our first (of many) Superbowl parties with appetizer recipes from this book as well. It truly has been the gift that never stops giving.

I’m kind of a rare bird when I cook in the sense that I really don’t want anyone’s help. I need the kitchen to myself, else you’ll most likely just end up in the way. I also had to learn to offer my assistance to others in their kitchens, since I want to be alone in my kitchen turf, it took me a long while to realize not everyone else is the same way.

Holiday meals are my favorite to prepare, and I love the fact every time I cook a big holiday meal, my husband puts himself on clean-up duty without being asked. Another reason on the long list of why he is my favorite person on the planet.

I am sorely disappointed I am the only one in my household who has deep love for sweet potatoes, though. They are a holiday staple for me, but my husband and children don’t share the same enthusiasm. Pray for them to be healed from this malady.

One holiday meal tradition for us has been prime rib at Christmas. The first time I made it was for my family Christmas five years ago. I was incredibly nervous. Prime rib is an expensive hunk of meat, and one you can’t really afford to screw up. Thankfully, it turned out deliciously. After a few bites, my brother-in-law turned to my husband and asked, “Did you ask Val to marry you after you tasted her cooking?”

Yes. It had nothing to do with my personality, my hilarious wit, my love of music or not murdering him when he quoted every line before it was spoken during the movie Tombstone. He didn’t really love me until he put a fork full of homecooked goodness in his mouth. And they lived happily ever after.

There is something to be said, though, for people enjoying the fruits of your labor of love in cooking a giant, hearty, tasty meal. It’s a gift I love to offer, a skill I’ve enjoyed mastering, and something I’ve grown to appreciate even more over the years.

This cookbook has become an important part of my kitchen. It’s a wedding (shower?) gift that has kept on gaining. Er, giving. Giving us pounds. Of love.