Dad taught us all he knew and learned about cooking, and that knowledge came from the supreme source: Julia Child. He loved her recipes and show. Her books were the most worn along with the one book you only really needed...The Gold Cookbook!
Some of the great dishes that he made over the years came from the recipe cards of his dear mother, Agnes. I was fortunate to be able to see her performing her magic in the kitchen when I was little. It was her dishes that he passed down to his kids. Those poppy seed rolls above came from one of her recipes.
To dad cooking was an extension of love and family health. He always made EVERYTHING from scratch and only used the best ingredients. Nothing was processed or cheap and the proof was in the pudding. His favorite ingredient was butter. "A little pad never hurt anyone." One of the favorite dishes he liked was cooked beets and now I have a liking for them because they are very healthy for the body. His belief was that if you ate right with fresh produce and a mixed diet of greens you'll always be in good health. Today most of the foods in grocery stores are processed and bleached out of its product the nutrients you need to stay balanced. Dad always taught me about this and how it related to having healthy babies.
The holidays were massive feasts and he would make more dishes then he had bowls to fill them. He once cooked for over 200 people at a private house party on the East Coast. He roasted two huge pigs underground in a fire pit for hours. The guests raved about the dinner. I've seen the photos and it was an impressive soirée.
Over the course of this next year I'll be posting some recipes and cooking tips that he shared with us in his domain: the kitchen. He helmed the captain's chair with a pair of tongs in one hand and a Beefeater martini in the other. The highlight of my family togetherness was in the sharing of our home-cooked meal and to see him happy with his kids and friends around to entertain, since he was always the consummate host.
There will never be a more joyous and festive time again now that the captain has left his ship. I wish we could raise a toast one more time and say "Bon Appetite!"