Saturday, May 2, 2015

When I started cooking....

Hi, I'm Ron Merlin. I live in Seattle, Washington, and have been cooking and baking since I was a little guy who learned to cook by helping Grandma in West Springfield, Massachusetts. (I'll never forget the homemade donuts, she made them EVERY time we visited.)

Anyway, some odd years later, I've decided to share with you the recipes, techniques, and the love of fine food I've learned over the years.

Grandma lived in a red little house with white trim way up in the Country with Jim Patterson my step-grandfather. (Is there such a thing?) I remember Grampa Jim apparently didn't like kids much as he rarely spoke, just sat in his rocker, smoked a big old smelly pipe, and watched TV. Grandma waited on him hand and foot. He scared the hell out of me frankly.

But you can't make this stuff up. I was born and raised in Worcester, Massachusetts and lived with my Mom and once at Christmas and once in the summer, we would travel to Grandma Patterson's home 85 miles away up in the woods. It was during these trips I learned about baking, and cooking, and blueberry fields, and cowpies and how all the 'neat' stuff in Grandpa Jim's garages was NOT to be messed with.

I realize now, that at the time I was living the picture card Christmas life. We would drive for two hours, up into the 'hills' west of where we lived, and drive and drive through fields, sparsely populated, covered with snow, and eventually, at the top of some hill off the highway, hit a gravel road, turn right and travel a half mile to this little red and white farmhouse, covered in snow, smoke coming from the Chimney, (which was attached to both the fireplace and wood burning stove in Grandma's kitchen), with crooked Christmas lights hung here and there, because Grandma had placed them, Grampa Jim wasn't into that kind of stuff. I would walk in, and there was Grandma, greeting her grandkids as generations of Grandparents have done no doubt, so glad to see us.

And every time, EVERY single time, Grandma would say to me...... "Ronnie (yes, grimace, I was called Ronnie in those days) would you like to make some donuts?

And Grandma and I would enter the "pantry" to the right of her kitchen......Pantry is a joke, it was the size of a small closet, with shelving on three sides from floor to ceiling, and just stuffed with canned goods, bags, seasonings, etc. etc. etc. On one side was a small wooden, well worn counter-top. She would place a wooden bowl on it, and to my amazement begin to make donut dough......No recipe, no measuring, no nothing. As liquids were needed Grandma Patterson would hand me the right sized measuring cup or utensil and send me forth into the kitchen to retrieve the liquid. Meanwhile, much to my amazement at 5 or 6 years old, begin to create a dough, with no help whatever, that within 30 minutes we would begin to deep-fry on an old wood stove. Misshapen donuts and little donut holes.......Which then it was MY job to shake around in paper bags filled with sugar and cinnamon and nutmeg.....

And then, and then, I was rewarded with the best donuts I have ever had, with ice cold milk, me and Grandma, eatin' donuts in the kitchen.

It amazed me how she could do that. And I admit, it's what got me started on being interested in cooking....and to this day, I love to cook and bake with NO recipe.....(although in this blog, I will try to measure things out)

Anyway, in honor of Grandma Patterson, I think my first recipe should be Homemade Buttermilk Donuts, compliments of her. God Rest her Soul.......

What do YOU think? By the way, when is the last time you have had homemade donuts? Huh? You a Krispy Kreme freak?

Try these, and if ya have kids, give them some. And let THEM shake 'em up in a 'sugar bag'

They might write a blog about YOU some day.....


This post was re-created at the suggestion of Patience Brewster. I thought they had a good idea for Mother's Day, so I recreated my first post.

My cookbook now available!