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My View: Searching for the secrets to replicable recipes

By Wendy Schreiner

There are some people who will not divulge their recipes, or if they do you swear that they must have left out their “secret” ingredient(s) because you can never get yours to come close to theirs. The taste is just off a bit and you can’t seem to figure out why. Perhaps it’s years of practice or that “special” pan or dish that it’s prepared in or so and so’s oven.

One dish in particular is lazy pierogi. My late Aunt Dorothy’s and my mom’s friend Helen’s were both so delicious and I can’t ever figure out what they did to get theirs to taste so good, as mine was always lacking something. And as far as regular rolled out pierogi go, forget it, mine are a tried and true disaster time and time again.

Perhaps I rush them; I’ve never been too patient. The dough is always way too thick. They will never in a million years come close to those of my godmother, my late Aunt Alice. Hers were the best ever.

My Aunt Dorothy’s chocolate chip cookies were the yummiest by far. I’ve made chocolate chip cookies dozens of times, but they were never like hers. My two sisters-in-law each love a certain cookie that I make.

One is a chocolate chip cookie with a surprise chocolate inside and the other one is a shortbread cookie featuring colored nonpareils. I have given them both the recipes, but I think they prefer when I bake them a batch as a surprise and then they don’t have to do the baking themselves.

Wendy Schreiner.

I actually like some meals I prepare, like golabki. I rarely make it, though, as it’s not on my husband’s top 10 list. My husband can whip up chili or beef stew like a pro.

 

My younger brother once won a contest for his grape pie, while my older brother makes a great chicken souvlaki salad.

I request my mom’s sour cream coffee cake as my “birthday” cake every year. The cinnamon flavor is to die for. This cake I have never even tried to bake on my own.

Once I surprised my brothers by making our late paternal grandmother’s turkey shaped cut out cookies that featured the red cinnamon candy eyes on a gingerbread-flavored, turkey-shaped cookie on Thanksgiving a few years back. They were good, but they weren’t the same as when our grandmother handed out the tins to each family with a certain number of cookies in them. I have also made her pecan tassies, but they are just not the same.

Chicken cordon bleu is my favorite dish. I have made this before, but a local supermarket does such a fine job that I usually let them do the work for me and let my oven do the rest.

One of my favorite desserts of all time, Danish puff pastry, can sometimes be found at church sales. Those ladies sure can bake. The attempt I made at that pastry concoction didn’t compare in flavor at all.

My cousin Mary Ellen’s husband, Nick, once made us lazy lasagna and it was the best tasting lasagna I ever had. Italian food is my favorite.

Maybe part of the greatness is that when others prepare the food for us it just tastes that much better and we don’t have the messy kitchen and cleanup to go with it.

Maybe the “socialization” that comes along with eating is also part of what makes food so yummy. When you are having a good time and enjoying good company and good eats, what more could you need?

Just hand over that recipe please and don’t hold back those secret ingredients.

Wendy Schreiner, of Warsaw, is searching for the secret ingredients used in her friends’ recipes.

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