Thursday, October 8, 2009

Confessions of a Reluctant Cook

I don’t cook. I mean, I can. Kind of. A few dishes. Very few. So why in the world am I posting on a cooking-themed week? Because I have a story to tell, of course!

My daughter currently attends a college that has a culinary school. She wants to be a research chef. She loves to cook. And she doesn’t just cook. She creates. She prefers to proceed without a set recipe, or with several that she can combine. She rarely measures. She isn’t afraid to toss the whole concoction in the trash and start over. It’s been an amazing thing to watch. And to eat.

But besides filling my tummy (so much so that I’m having to watch my weight for the first time!), her cooking has done something else for me. It has impacted my writing.

I’m sure you are scratching your head about now, but, like I said, I have a story to tell. My current work-in-progress is a novel set in 1918. On a farm. They cooked three meals a day, so any story of a woman in that time and place would indeed encompass scenes in the kitchen. A few months before my daughter graduated from high school, my mother’s cousin gave her a graduation gift—The White House Cookbook, circa 1900. My daughter found it amazingly cool. And so did I. After all, not much would have changed for a woman in the realm of food in the intervening 20 or so years. And of course my daughter wouldn’t need to take it with her to school. So I absconded it into my stack of research materials.

What an incredible treasure! I can look up how to make almost anything, for the book contains not only recipes but also tips and even illustrations. And every time I add a food detail to my story, it is a tribute to my daughter—as well as both her paternal and maternal great-grandmothers.

My daughter wields her art in the medium of food while I paint pictures with my words. The one who cooks challenges the one who doesn’t cook to create a savory dish on the page. And in my mind, that’s much better than staring at an inedible dish in the middle of the dinner table!

In the meantime, here’s one of my “easy as pie” staple recipes for you to enjoy:

Tilapia fillets (I use frozen ones and thaw before cooking)


Shredded Parmesan or shredded 3 cheese Italian

Put fillets in a shallow baking dish. Spread pesto on each fillet, more or less, depending on your preference. Sprinkle with a bit of cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes or until the fish flakes.

(Told you it was easy!)

Of course if you’d like to be entered to win a collection of Inkalicious recipes, just leave a comment on this blog. Please leave an email address so we can contact you if you're the winner (include spaces or brackets around the "@" sign so Net spiders, etc, can't phish your address). We'll pick a winner at random on Oct. 11. Remember, all comments left today will also be entered in our grand prize drawing on November 1st


  1. Hey D'Ann!
    I really see a resemblance to you in your daughter. What a great story. A research chef?
    It's wonderful and not surprising that your daughter's accomplishments and enthusiasm are influencing you. She's like your personal motivational speaker!

    Thanks for the tilapia recipe. I do like to cook, but I don't believe at all that we need to make things difficult. During the week, especially this week, I want simple and fast. I think I need an apron that says I'd rather be writing. Tonight it will be something from the freezer.

    That cookbook will be a treasure for both you and your daughter. I have a slew of those little homemaker cookbooks from the forties and fifties that show mom in the kitchen in her cotton house dress, pearls and apron, selflessly and joyfully preparing for her appreciative family. I never look at them, but I can't seem to part with them either.
    They remind me I was a child of the fifties sort of like Beaver Cleaver.

    PS I can't wait to read your story.

  2. Hmm, I think I might adapt your recipe for chicken. We don't eat much fish. But you can't really go wrong with pesto IMO.

    And I'm jealous of your cookbook. WHat a fun, and invaluable resource!

  3. i'VE WRITTEN MY own very short cookbook I call Faster than Fast Food. I hand it out at booksignings. All recipes guaranteed to be faster than pulling through a McDonalds.

    Unless maybe if it's RIGHT on your way. Then I don't know.

    But they're FAST.

  4. Fun post, D'Ann! I confess I have coveted that White House cookbook for years. It looks like a lot of fun. They used to sell it in the Current Catalog, ages ago.

    Thanks for the recipe! Tilapia is such a mild fish that it's the kind we eat most often around here. I'll have to try your recipe.

    Mary, I had better go to one of your booksignings! I need that cookbook!

  5. Hey everyone! Thanks for your comments. I was looking at my calendar for today and thought, oh, the irony! My cooking post went up--and we're having leftovers for dinner! I guess my brain can only take one cooking task at a time, even if it only talking about cooking!

  6. The recipe sounds yummy. I love pesto. I have been wanting to get my hubby to eat more fish too.

    I believe we all have our gifts of creativity that we are blessed. Some, like you, have the gift of creating with words and some, like your daughter, have the gift of creating with food.


  7. What a fun post! D'Ann, your daughter is adorable... takes after her mom :+}

  8. Hey, D'Ann! I want to win! I actually used to love to cook, before I started writing. It was sort of a creative outlet. Now it's just something else I have to do!
    melaniedickerson at knology dot net

  9. Your daughter reminds me of one of my nieces. I'm sure she took over the family kitchen by age 9!

    Sadly, no such child exists in my house ;-(

    And isn't it wonderful when our kids start to inspire us!

  10. I'm with you, D'Ann. I don't cook. And I can, kind of. But it's nothing anyone wants to eat.

    I really admire your daughter. What a wonderful goal she has. And I think it's amazingly wonderful that you research and put food detail in your books.

  11. You sell yourself short. When you cook, it is always good, friend. I think I may have to find a copy of that book myself!


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