Saturday, February 23, 2013

What should we give the bride and groom?

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue...


If you are like me, you want to give the bride and groom something special for their wedding. I've been told that cash always works, but it seems crass to put a dollar value on the start of a life together, and unless the new couple puts all the money they receive toward a big purchase, like the downpayment for a house, they won't even remember what they bought with the money gifts after the first blooms of marriage begin to fade.

February is a long time away from the traditional June wedding season, but it's a perfect time to prepare a truly memorable gift: a personalized collection of recipes. If you are a family member, you can enlist the help of other relatives to gather recipes that go back generations, holiday specialities, picnic favorites, comfort foods unique to your heritage, the foods that you love.

You don't have to be a family member to give recipes to the new couple. Diane, one of my teacher friends, gave me a box of her family favorites when we were married thirty years ago, and many of those recipes have become staples in my kitchen. Even though I haven't seen Diane is twenty-five years, I think of her every time I make lemon chicken or banana blueberry muffins.

The presentation can be as simple as a box of recipe cards or as formal as a printed book, but it should include the stories behind the recipes as well as the recipes themselves. If you decide to create a printed book, you can even scan some original, handwritten recipes and include snapshots of the people who passed each recipe along.

Of course, you can create a personal recipe book for any occasion. My daughter took the digital family recipe book that I compiled for my brothers and created an heirloom book for Mothers Day. It is hardcover, with pictures of everyone in our family.

Now is a great time to start sifting through your recipes and calling friends and family to pull together a gift that will be treasured forever.

Here is one of my very favorite recipes from Diane's wedding present. In fact, I'm making it for dinner tonight!

Lemon Chicken

3 chicken breasts (split, boned, pounded--six pieces, each about 1/2 pound)
salt, pepper
¼ pound butter
2 tablespoons sherry
2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1 cup cream
6 thin pats butter
Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper chicken breasts.  Heat butter in heavy skillet.  Saut√© chicken in one layer for 5-8 minutes in hot butter, turning once to cook both sides.  Remove chicken to oven-proof shallow dish that is large enough to hold chicken in single layer.  Pour sherry, lemon peel and lemon juice into pan.  Cook one minute, stirring.  Add cream slowly.  Stir.  Pour sauce over chicken.  Place a pat of butter on each chicken piece and sprinkle with cheese.  Put under broiler until lightly browned and bubbly.  Serve at once.  It is delicious over rice.  Add a green vegetable and salad and it looks like you worked all day!  Serves 4 to 6.

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