Ethel Helps Sallee Write Cookbook
9 year old Sallee Mackey attempts to write a cookbook with a little help from Ethel
Sallee marched into the kitchen armed with a pencil and a pad of paper. Pulling out a chair she plopped herself down and announced to a bemused Ethel, “I’m writing a cookbook.” Then she stared hard at Ethel.
“Why you lookin’ at me?” Ethel asked as she stood at the sink polishing silver.
“Ethel, I don’t know if you know this, but you have to know how to cook to write a cookbook.” With pencil posed the child continued staring at the woman as if her overstatement of the obvious was the key to unlocking Ethel’s vast culinary knowledge.
Suppressing a laugh Ethel asked, “an’ you want me t’ what?” She waited for an answer from Sallee. When none came she offered up, “give you a recipe?”
“All of them,” Sallee stated flatly without a hint of irony. “When I grow up and move away I want to cook everything just like you do. I need you to tell me how you make all of the food you cook for us. Ok?” Without waiting for Ethel to answer she said, “Let’s start with marmalade tarts.”
Ethel squinched her eyes together hard trying to remember how she made marmalade tarts. It wasn’t that she didn’t know how. It was trying to put what her body did automatically into words that caused the effort. Finally, she said,
Preheat de oven to 350°
Two handfuls o’ flour about a cup plain flour
A biggish pinch o’ salt
½ stick o’ butter, or half butter half lard
2-3 shakes o’ cold water about a tablespoon a shake
Place de flour, butter/lard an’ salt int’ a bowl.
Rub de butter/lard int’ de flour wit’ yo’ fingertips ’til de mixture is like fine meal, workin’ as quick as you ken. Don’t want de butter t’ get too warm.
Add de water t’ de mixture an’ usin’ a fork stir ’til de dough binds together, add mo’ cold water a teaspoon at a time if de mixture is too dry.
Wrap de dough an’ chill fo’ at least 15 minutes an’ up t’ 30 minutes.
Roll dough out t’ about half as thick as yo’ little finger ¼” thickness usin’ a large jelly jar cut out rounds.
Spoon a ½ t orange marmalade int’ each round an’ fold over, crimp edges together wit’ a fork an’ bake in a hot oven ’til just brown. Cool on rack.”
Sallee dutifully took down every word. The task proved to be slow going and required Ethel to repeat each step several times. With the silver polished and her head aching she suggested that perhaps this could be a long-term project. Sallee jumped at the suggestion folding up her pad she skipped out of the kitchen leaving her pencil, pad and an exhausted Ethel.