However, first and foremost, Marion Cunningham was a teacher. She made the most clueless cook feel capable of creating a meal to feed themselves, family and friends. Her book Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham provided step by step instructions so there is no question as to how a dish should be made. Her Cooking with Children book opened the door to life-long cooking. And all of her cookbooks featured ingredients that can be found in any supermarket. (Photo from her publisher's website.)
I believe her writing and teaching skills were all a way of reaching her ultimate goal of getting people back into the kitchen and around the family table. In the introduction of Learning to Cook, she told about the experience of teaching Saturday cooking classes to beginners in preparation for writing the book. She wrote, “Every time we cooked, we sat down around my dining-room table and looked at the results of our lessons. Cooking in my kitchen, then enjoying each other’s company over a home-cooked meal, helped introduce (or re-introduce) these adult beginners to the social pleasures of cooking and eating together, pleasures that are often missing in busy lives. They tell me how they learned that going home at the end of the day, after busy work pressures, to a quiet time of cooking can be the best kind of therapy. That feeling is one of the best gifts that cooking at home can give us, and I hope that all of you using these recipe and sitting down to enjoy a meal with your friends, family, or even alone will find the same kind of satisfaction.”
Marion Cunningham died on July 11. But her lessons and her food will endure through generations.
Here is one of her recipes that is both easy to prepare and wonderful to consume!
Crustless Coconut Custard PieAdapted from Learning to Cook with Marion Cunningham
2 cups milk1/2 cup all-purpose white flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large eggs
1 cup sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 cup sweetened packaged coconut, plus more for garnish
Powdered sugar, for garnish
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the milk, flour, baking powder, salt, eggs, sugar, and vanilla into a food processor and whiz for three minutes. Add the 1 cup coconut and whiz again for 3 seconds.
Pour the mixture into a 10-inch pie pan and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Check to see if the pie is done by sticking a sharp knife into the center. If it comes out clean, it’s done. If not, bake for an additional 5 minutes and check again.
Serve at room temperature or cold, cut into wedges. Dust with powdered sugar and sprinkle with toasted coconut if desired. Also nice served with fresh fruit.
To toast coconut, sprinkle 1/4 cup coconut onto a baking sheet. Place in the oven and bake until toasted, about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on it, since the coconut will reach the burning stage quickly!