"The secret of good cooking is, first, having a love of it." -James Beard
"One of the secrets of cooking is to learn to correct something if you can, and bear with it if you cannot." -Julia Child
"Here are my secrets for cooking without recipes. Know what you want to eat. Keep it simple. Enjoy yourself. Come to think of it, those are my secrets for having a good life, too." -Tod Davies
And the secret to cooking WITH recipes, is to read them all the way through to the end BEFORE beginning to cook. There are few things I find more nerve-wracking and hysteria-inducing than happily cooking along with a new recipe and discovering, when I'm three-quarters done at five-thirty PM with half a dozen famished persons expecting by six PM a satisfying home cooked meal, depressing phrases such as, "must be cooked over low heat for at least three to four hours more," or "leave refrigerated overnight." Or instructions to add towards the end of cooking some ingredient that is NOT in my kitchen (or available at the local grocery store) and "it is essential to the success of this dish and there is no acceptable substitute." In all these cases, it helps to remember Julia's secret. And if that doesn't help, remember waffles: with syrup and/or homemade jams, maybe some scrambled eggs (if the hens are producing) and bacon (if there is some in the freezer); or chocolate waffles with strawberries or other canned or frozen fruits, and if possible a bit of whipped cream or yogurt (or not); even if served simply with maple or brown sugar syrup, waffles for dinner is almost always cheering. Waffles can be made in half an hour for any number of people and most are quite pleased to be served waffles, with whatever you have to put on them, anytime of the day.
My husband and I both remember our mother's making brown sugar syrup during our childhood. My husband says his mother simply boiled brown sugar and water, mine added corn syrup and maple flavoring. It is less expensive than buying real maple syrup, which my youngest loves (I don't remember my mother ever buying real maple syrup), but not necessarily cheaper than commercial syrups. It is though, a whole lot easier to make, than bundling a handful of kids into a car before breakfast in the morning, when you realize you are out of syrup just after announcing you will make them waffles (or pancakes) and they are all happily chanting, "Waffles, waffles, waffles" (or "Pancakes, pancakes, pancakes") riot-mob-style.
Brown Sugar Syrup
In a small saucepan over high heat bring to a boil:
1 c. brown sugar
1/2 c. water
Remove from heat. Add:
1/2 c. corn syrup
1/2 t. Mapleine, imitation maple flavoring
1/2 c. real maple syrup (optional, or instead of corn syrup and Mapleine)
Makes about 1 1/2 cups