About De Ashton aka La Cuisinière – De’s Home Style Food Crafting blog is a family’s personal and virtual cookbook. It is also a reflection of a multi cultural upbringing on an international scale.
This blog is De’s way to document the homestyle country French cuisine she grew up eating, the Pennsylvania Dutch regional cooking she learned to prepare without losing the acquired taste of the cuisine of many countries.
Years of living “off the land” on four continents and using available local ingredients to adapt favorite family recipes add spice to a background in country French cuisine and American regional cooking.
The children are grown now but they want to continue the culinary traditions passed down through generations of their families.
This virtual cookbook blog allows De to cook her way through a massive collection of recipe clippings and vintage cookbooks belonging to both families!
on both sides of the family and on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, these notes for tasty treats go back more than four generations!
It’s the perfect fusion of the old and the new – vintage recipes prepared with new ingredients or familiar old recipes adapted to make use of available ingredients. You’ll discover what the families prepared in the kitchen and served for dinner over the years.
No stone is left un-turned. No recipes set aside as unpalatable. From the simplest to the fanciest fare, she’ll share them with you.
If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to send De a note.
Best Regards from,
The Family Chefs at De’s Home Style Food Crafting
by De Ashton
A daughter, a sister, a wife, mom, grandma, teacher, business person, even a “gatekeeper” but always a cook!
I enjoy cooking and not just because we all have to eat. Cooking started as a hobby more than fifty-five years ago.
The hobby became a way to keep intact the tasty family traditions of our home in France. Later, I added the recipes and Pennsylvania Dutch cooking traditions of my husband’s family heritage. To make our menus even more distinctive, I also incorporated the familiar flavors of international cuisines from the many countries we called home.
Prior to 1970, my personal exposure to the United States consisted of very infrequent visits referred to as “home leave” – four of them to be exact. They were more like extended vacations to the United States. During the mid-sixties, my family did spend a short tour in Washington D.C.
The year was 1965, and we lived in the Cleveland Park neighborhood of the District.
While waiting at a bus stop in front of a CVS pharmacy, I noticed a rack with small booklets just inside the door. They included one of Pillsbury’s 16th Grand National Bake-Off. Hot off the presses. 50 cents. I had that in my coat pocket.
To this day, I can list the recipes in that little book but the one that started my cooking fancy was the Double Pizza Special. I arrived home announcing that I would cook dinner that night. Today, family members still ask for the pizza, and I am on my third copy of what is now a truly vintage booklet.
Just over a year later, we were off again to part unknown. These countries became home and as in the past, we relied almost entirely on the local cuisine.
To my family, our home was anywhere, everywhere and where ever we happened to be stationed at the time.
Home included a long list of countries from post-war Europe to the Balkans, the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. It meant living “off the land” and eating the local fare.
Both my great-grandmother and grandmother cooked with the food that was available in a small country town in post-war France. I distinctly remember the day her kitchen was upgraded to include a gas range and a refrigerator.
I learned quite a bit about cooking on a wood stove and baking in an oven that also served as a source of heat. It was my job to run and fetch another log to crank up the heat for baking purposes. It was cooking by smell, taste, and sight.
My mother cooked with locally available ingredients during our years in third world countries. The easiest way to create meals was to eat the way the locals did so we quickly became accustomed to a wide variety of regional and international flavors, ingredients and cuisines.
These flavors became an integral part of lives – part of each and every meal we prepare at home. Even today.
It also created a unique way of shopping for food and cooking a meal. We rarely go to the supermarket (an incredible concept compared to some of our past food sources) with a firm menu in mind or a month’s worth of menu planning in hand. If we do, it can easily be scrapped at the sight of another cut of meat, another vegetable, or just about anything that screams cook this today!
It is a legacy of years of shopping for food not knowing what would be available on any given day. It is also the result of being very creative with what you can find to create a memorable meal.
Click on the link for more curiosities and little known facts about me!
A few years ago, I was urged to write about it. Write about the travel experiences, the food, the memories.
It turns out the easiest way to approach the writing task was to be myself. With a collection of wonderful photos to document it all, I started to write about food, family recipes and the memorable flavors of our life adventures in third world countries.
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