I am a television gourmet. Just about everything I know about cooking came from watching TV. Culinary shows send me straight to the kitchen in search of my chef’s knife and whisk, and made me the cook I am today. I guess this implies that I spend too much time in front of the television.
During middle school I discovered Julia Child on PBS. I am not afraid to prepare even the most complicated dish thanks to Child’s easy-going attitude about food. If a recipe doesn’t come out the way I planned, c’est la vie. Child taught me the basic skills that are necessary to allow me to explore recipes variation on my own. And I will be forever grateful to Child for providing the formula to roast a chicken to perfection every time.
Child’s cooking reminded me of maternal grandmother. Mamaw, as I called her, ran a farmhouse kitchen that was the heart of her home. Dinner was at noontime, eaten while listening to the news, weather, farm prices, and Paul Harvey on the radio. These were large meals of meat, boiled potatoes, gravy, and home-canned vegetables. Best of all was Mamaw’s chocolate meringue pie, made completely from scratch—crust, filling, and the light fluffy meringue. All this from a woman who, like Mom, hated to cook. Mamaw gladly gave up her utensils when she moved to a retirement home. I acquired her recipe file, which is one of my most cherished possessions.
Grandma enjoyed cooking for her large family (my father is the oldest of six children.) All of her dishes were country food—fried chicken and pork chops, buttery mashed potatoes, fresh green beans cooked with bacon, and numerous pies. I remember watching Grandma make homemade noodles that were so coated in flour that the chicken broth they boiled in became thick, rich gravy. The mere thought of that dish makes my mouth water. Now that Grandma is gone, the recipe is gone too, since she kept it all in her head. However, my sister challenged me one Thanksgiving to try to recreate the dish--and I did!
For someone who never wanted to captain a fine restaurant, my television has been the next best thing to culinary school. Here is the original Galloping Gourmet recipe for you to try in your own kitchen. Enjoy. It's delicious!
From The Graham Kerr Cookbook (Doubleday, 1969)
4 large potatoes
1 medium onion
4 tablespoons clarified butter*
1 1/4 cups tomato sauce
3/4 cup water
salt and pepper, to taste
chopped parsley, for garnish
Peel and slice potatoes 1/2 inch thick. Peel and chop onion. Heat butter in saucepan. Cook chopped onion until golden brown. Add potato slices, tomato sauce, and water. Cover and cook gently until potatoes are tender and liquid has reduced, approximately 30 minutes.
*To clarify butter: Melt butter and use only the clear yellow liquid, leaving behind the milky residue.