I made a cookbook for each of my daughters as part of their belated Valentine's Day present. Also included in each package were some great children's books (The Penderwicks - one of those quirky family stories like Half Magic or Circus Shoes - the littlest sister's name is Batty - and Ellen Tebbits for one, I Saw Esau and the first Hornblower - not a kid's book - for the other), a handknit washcloth, and chocolate, of course.
The first page was a note to them; the second page were our house rules for cooking:
1. Always use the best-quality ingredients. It’s worth it to spend a little more and get a great result than to skimp on the basics.
2. This holds true, especially, for olive oil and wine and pots and pans and bread.
3. Never, ever, ever use anything but fresh garlic.
4. Cooking is a whole lot more enjoyable if you pour yourself a glass of wine and drink it as you cook. It also makes you feel unbelievably cosmopolitan and European.
5. Clean up as you cook. Some of us are not as diligent as we should be about this, and then Dad comes into the kitchen, looks at the mess, and makes concerned comments.
6. Addendum to #5: if you cook, then the other person is the dishwasher. Don’t take No for an answer.
7. Always have ice cream the night before a Big Event. Even better, go to a movie and then go out for ice cream.
8. Chocolate is one of the basic food groups. Any chocolate will do, even the chocolate chips from the supermarket.
9. Underbake your cookies. And eat a few chocolate chip cookies straight out of the oven with a glass of cold milk.
10. Enjoy yourself. Life is short, and food and good books and friends and family make it all much better.