Over the weekend I shared a story on Medium about a “luncheon” that my mom threw, and her favorite cookbook Bound to Please. In that story, the quiche I describe is Mom’s go-to quiche—a quiche Lorraine, made with ham of course, but also with a Pillsbury pie crust and two different kinds of pre-shredded cheese. Here’s the one that I made myself on Mother’s Day.
There was a time when I thought it was a good idea to try to make quiche a little less dairy rich, more egg-oriented—”healthier.” But that might have been the last time I made quiche (it’s been a while). Since then I’ve come to recognize it for the decadent dish it is and rather than trying to tweak it to be marginally less rich, I think I’d rather just eat it less often, reserve it for special occasions.
For Mother’s Day, Food52 let me share a little essay I wrote about my mom and the first recipe I ever came up with—which is these lemon bars, dubbed “Lucas’ Luscious Lemon Bars.” It’s a slight detour from the veggie madness thing, but if you like lemon bars, I can vouch for that recipe. (And if you’re curious about the spelling of my name, it’s kind of an embarrassing story—about college, and self-expression, and poetry I was writing at the time—but suffice it to say that at the time I was making these lemon bars it was “Lucas,” and now I spell it “Lukas.”)
For the past few weeks I’ve been slowly reading one of my mom’s favorite cookbooks, Bound to Please, by the Junior League of Boise. It’s an older book, from 1983, and unless you know me or are from Boise, you’ve probably never heard of it. In New York people don’t seem to even know about Junior Leagues—which are networks of women that organize different types of community development projects, with chapters stationed all over the world. Mom was a member around the time that I was in elementary school, which is the late eighties, and Bound to Please is one of the JLB projects that she worked on. (She also had a hand in the second cookbook they published, Beyond Burlap—a collection of potato recipes! This clever title makes me laugh every time I think of it.)
It seems Bound to Please was one of the first cookbooks that made Mom excited to cook. Her copy is has neat little notes next to the recipes she tried and checkmarks down the table of contents—it’s clear that at one point she wanted to cook through everything. I remember feeling the same way when I moved to New York and was living on my own, with unlimited access to a kitchen. I was about the same age as when she first got Bound to Please. I laid out my copy of The Dean & Deluca Cookbook on the kitchen counter, leaned over it with a pencil in hand, and cooked away like a pupil (though in reality I studied the book a lot more than I cooked from it—those are some expensive ingredients for a college student!). Imagining that Mom may have done the same thing with Bound to Please has made the book function as something of a portal to her lately, especially with Mother’s Day coming up, a difficult holiday since she died. Continue reading