by Joanne Rock
When I was writing historical romance, I was frequently frustrated by the lack of texts handed downby women. There are a few notable pieces from medieval times, spiritual writings or diaries, penned by powerful nuns or queens who could afford the expense of preserving their thoughts and who were well educated enough to write them down. Some of the more mundane texts by women that have survived the times are recipes, cooking instructions and ingredients lists that sometimes contain amusing asides about potential preparation hazards.
I am not surprised that at least a few of these writings survive given the necessity of cooking in everyday life and how much it has dominated feminine time for decades. Even now, when we can throw dinner in an “Insta-Pot” we still need to share recipes and idea for how to best use the tools available, and there is no escape the endless rounds of shopping for ingredients. Cooking take time. Furthermore, with studies showing that kids who take part in regular family meals are more well-adjusted, happier, higher achieving, you name it, we are called upon to make a ritual of eating. That means more thoughtful planning, table setting, shopping. If we’re lucky, there will be wine.
I have a binder full of recipes that I’ve acquired since getting married. My favorites are written in loved ones’ handwriting. My grandmother’s scrawled notes on cheesecake. Beloved dinner meals from my youth that my mother wrote down for me. My mother in law’s bonus notes on choosing cuts of meat after I confided that I was often flummoxed at the butcher window. I feel the love when I read those notes.
|Available April 1st|
But there are other personal recipes that call to me, too. I have a handful of emails from my critique partner, Catherine Mann, from the crazy years when we were both trying to sell our first books, writing constantly while raising lots of kids. Cathy’s asides are all about how to make things better, faster and tastier, how to adjust a main meal for the younger set so that there’s less time spent on prep. Like every other arena of my life, my cooking efficiency benefitted from her friendship.
In a life filled with books, my recipe binder is one of my most important. When I move houses during the year, it’s one that always goes with me. I can understand why medieval women made sure their cooking notes were well protected throughout their lifetime. Long after my latest romance novel is out of print, I hope my granddaughters will find something to smile about in the cooking adventures of their granny Joanne.
Friends, my husband brought home a rice cooker for me this week. Any hints? Fav recipes to share for a writer still looking to make the kitchen work faster, easier and tastier? I’d love to hear any and all dinner suggestions! I’ll give one random poster an advance copy of my May Harlequin Desire, The Magnate’s Marriage Merger. In the meantime, I hope you’ll look for the prequel book, The Magnate’s Mail-Order Bride, available April 1 from Harlequin Desire!