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Another Christmas Eve

12-24-2011

It’s Christmas Eve again and I’ve pulled out my Mom’s Good Housekeeping cookbook that’s ratty and torn and well used. Sometimes that’s how I feel too.

I’ve thought about doing a series of essays about her and about how much she influenced my love of cooking. I tell friends that when I was trying to decide what path to walk down in 1984, it was a coin toss between law school and culinary school. That was back when going to culinary school wasn’t fashionable.

I chose law school because:

  • I knew more about the law than I did about creating good food
  • I was chicken

The coin toss is mostly true — I used a quarter. The falseness is that both sides were law school.

I figured that, as a lawyer, I would make more money and not be standing on my feet 16 hours a day. Ha! Try dealing with a long trial where the judge yanks you to a sidebar every 3 seconds. Those pumps got pretty nasty after a while.

I was chicken about applying for culinary school because I didn’t think I had the chops. I could pretty much talk my way out of most situations — my college theater dept classmates will attest to that, right Snydes? — but I was pretty sure my curtain would be drawn back when I couldn’t do a great beurre blanc on the first day of cooking school.

This blog is about cooking with my Mom, about using her cookbook even 70 years later, and about life in general. when I was growing up in t he 60s my Mom threw the hammer down on my telling my friends who she was. She was a famous person in her day and still has groupies in 2011.

My Mom was Shirley Ross. There ya go, Mums. I said it and lightning ain’t falling from the sky. Shirley Ross Shirley Ross Shirley Ross.

Done and done.

But who was Shirley Ross? The song “Thanks for the Memory” was written for her by Robin and Ranger back in the 30s. Yes Bob Hope took it as his theme song. But without my Mom he wouldn’t have had it to use. They introduced it in the movie, “The Big Broadcast of 1938″ and she told me they did it in one take. My Mom was the best second soprano I’ve ever known. Google her and listen to her voice. Angelic.

So we’re digging into the Good Housekeeping cookbook for the info on cooking a standing rib roast for Christmas Day. Check out page 164 if you have the edition first published in 1942. And Yorkshire Pudding is on page 450.

Here’s the thing about standing rib: The book says 325 but I’ve found that 350 does a better job. Try searing the outside for about 20 minutes at 450 to start and then reduce the heat to 350 for the remainder of the time. About 20-23 minutes per pound.

I’m also going to try something new this year: salt and pepper the outside of the roast, place it in the roaster and then refridge it overnight.  We also love a good Yorkshire pud with our roast but if you find you don’t have enough drippings, add some good beef stock to the pan. You can also use a new product by Knorr Swiss that is a concentrated stock. Excellent! Yes homemade stock is best but not always practical.

Cooking with my Mom was a joy and I hope you’ll dig in. Merry Christmas everyone!

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