Last week’s blog, "A Mental Health Break," wiped me out. After writing it I felt drained, sad, and dirty. Remembering the pain, humiliation, and the chaos of being “raised” by a severely mentally ill parent brought me to a place I have learned to skillfully avoid. That said, the outpouring I received from friends and strangers who wanted to share their experiences with mental illness was humbling. There is much need for those either suffering with mental illness themselves or that of a loved one. Like I said last week, NAMI New Orleans can help. Please utilize this resource. I wish it has been there when I was a child.
Of the many anomalies to have come from my odd childhood was a well-established curiosity for cooking by the time I was six. No one was paying much attention to what I was doing, and the kitchen was a fun laboratory. I had a thing for onion rings (still do) and, while the home pantry was not particularly well stocked, onions, flour, and cooking oil were usually on hand. I must have cooked a thousand batches of them, all terrible, as I watched “The French Chef” with Julia Child on PBS after school.
In 1975, more age-appropriate recipes came to me by way of my best friend’s mom. Her kids had a copy of "I Cooked It!" a small spiral-bound children’s cookbook compiled by the Newman Parents Association in 1975 and sold all over town as a fundraiser. She gave me a copy, too.
I made every single recipe in that book numerous times and now use a rubber band to keep classics like Mystery Breakfast, the Grandma Sandwich, Hong Kong Ham Helper, Zoller Lemon Squares, and my very favorite Peanut Butter Balls No. 1 (aka Peanut Butter Play Dough) from falling out.
My daughter, Cecilia, came to love my tattered, stained old book and we cooked our way through it together, Peanut Butter Balls No. 1 holding fast as the now family favorite.
Try this fun, if not so healthy, recipe with a child in your life.