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1. French Toast and Pancakes. Nothing will impress him or her quite like a tall, warm stack of delicious pancakes with butter melting off sides.
2. Egg dishes: Scrambled, fried and poached. Note: When cooking eggs, remove them from skillet before they actually look completely done. They continue cooking even after they're removed to platter.
3. Buttermilk BIscuits. Buttermilk in a recipe makes everything instantly better. Whether it's biscuits, pancakes or cornbread, it's presence improves flavor ten-fold.
4. Great coffee. You absolutely must be able to make a sensational pot of coffee. Do your research, try out different beans and always, always grind your own coffee. You can get a grinder for under $20.00, and it will be 20 of wisest dollars you ever invest.
5. Hamburgers and their cousin, Cheeseburgers. I'll let you in on a family secret, a little garlic salt is difference between, "Honey, this is good." and "Wow! My mom (dad) never made burgers like this!"
6. At least one really good homemade soup. I know, little red and white cans are awfully convenient (and you'll find about 10 in my own pantry), but being able to make a sensational potato or vegetable soup is a great big feather in your culinary cap.
7. Fried Chicken. Back to Buttermilk for a minute, soaking your chicken in buttermilk (in fridge) for about an hour before coating and frying makes for a juicier, more flavorful meat.
8. Mashed potatoes. Never. Under. Any. Circumstances. Use. Instant. Potatoes. Don't even look their way in store. Peel, boil, and mash your potatoes with milk, butter and....pssst, another family secret, sour cream. It's worth effort.
9. Yeast rolls. Okay, I'll admit it, these aren't as easy to make as other 10 or so foods talked about here. That's because yeast is tempermental. It can be likened to Goldilocks, of all things. It gets angry if liquid is too hot, it gets angry if liquid is too cold. It wants it just right, and when temperature isn't just right, whereas Goldie laid down, your bread will lie down. Flat rolls. Ugly rolls.
10. (3-way tie!) Chocolate Chip Cookies, Apple Pie and Your sweetheart's favorite cake. Master desserts and even when main meal isn't up to par it'll be okay. The last thing a person eats, after all, is thing they'll most recall. You know saying, all's well that end's well.
Cogratulations, good luck, and have fun. It may sound like something out of a 1940s cookbook, but that really is biggest secret. To most things in life, actually.
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