Clues From a Marriage
I don’t cook very much anymore, though once I truly enjoyed any special occasion, and mostly was happy to prepare our daily meals. I confess to a time when I used to be up at 5:30 a.m. and didn’t get home till after 6:00 when I wished we were rich and I could have a meal ready to eat for which I had done nothing. But that was only a few years, and then I could face supper again without a groan.
The other day, I got a yen for something I used to make two or three times a year that always signified some kind of special observance: chicken liver pâté. I took myself off to the nearest grocery store and discovered the only chicken livers were frozen in one-pound containers. That’s a lot of pâté, unless you’re planning a really big party. After all, it’s only for canapés or a bit of hors d’oeuvre. But that isn’t what I was going to write about.
There’s nothing complicated about making this treat if you have a food processor, and I do. It’s over 25 years old, and works perfectly. You don’t need a lot of pots or particularly unusual ingredients. So I was puttering contentedly, simmering the thawed livers, but having to keep watch so they didn’t boil over in a covered pan, and I began idly observing my more than fifty-year-old collection of cooking utensils, and I realized I was observing a kind of archeological record.
Our first apartment kitchen wasn’t big, but had room for a table and two chairs. I put together a traditional Thanksgiving dinner including home made pie using some of the things still in my cupboards that had come from my mother-in-law’s kitchen. Especially a three-tined fork with a wooden handle, and a bowl we still use for cranberry sauce, and another in which I steam plum pudding — or I did when we still had Christmas dinner at our house.
I looked behind those bowls, and there was one of two casseroles I needed for the big (30 or so) dinners I prepared for my husband’s company’s foreign representatives for annual sales meetings. There was the rimmed cookie sheet and the enameled steel lasagna pan that saw us through more than thirty years of informal dinners with our friends. Up on the top of the cabinets in the laundry stand two lobster steamers. I still have my mother’s favorite mixing bowls.
The year we moved to England, we needed to buy cooking implements because our children were going to live in our house. And so we bought a new set of pots. They’re the most-used foundation of anything I fix that requires cooking. Stainless steel with heavy layered bottoms, they’re easy to clean, handsome to look at, and completely reliable, now that I’ve learned how to regulate the heat for their super conductivity.
Photographs: Joan's kitchen cabinet; photo of home made pate (not Joan's)
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