I think it was at least 3 years into my relationship with my Master before I had to cook for Him. I was terrified at the thought. When I visit Master, He barbecues great steaks or ribs – all meat and potatoes meals. One serving of steak was as much meat as I would eat in a week at home. So when Master started to stay for hunt week, I got quite stressed over what to feed Him. Master just shrugged and said if He didn’t like it, He would find something else to eat, but that rather horrified my subbie side. I turned to my large collection of cookbooks to find recipes that would satisfy my wish to serve healthy nutritious meals, made with more fruits and vegetables than meat, while at the same time tickling Master’s taste buds.

I first started with breakfast foods. The Farm Journal’s Country Cookbook has a wonderful recipe for “Apple Griddle Cakes”. They are quick and easy to make, thicker than usual pancakes, and even better when you add more apples than called for! They are totally unlike another great pancake recipe I have. Jamie Oliver’s “Pancakes USA Style” creates an amazingly light fluffy pancake by whipping the egg whites separately then folding them into the batter. This recipe is from his Happy Days with the Naked Chef, but all of Jamie Oliver’s cook books are fabulous. Subbie can spend some happy days looking at pictures of Jamie (alas he is never naked) while pretending to find recipes to use. Unfortunately, I have never been able to use either recipe with Master, as He does not eat breakfast. As a firm believer in breakfast being the foundation for the day, I am lucky if I can get Him to eat a cinnamon raisin bagel before our hunting day begins.

I love to cook but I do not like to spend a lot of time doing so if I am with Master, so most of my favourite recipes are quick and easy. Two Canadian favourites are Anne Lindsay and Rose Reisman. Both specialize in light and nutritious meals, and often their cookbooks are sponsored by a charity, such as Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. The recipes are usually accompanied by a nutritional breakdown, which I found helpful when cooking for a family member on a low sodium diet. Anne Lindsay’s New Light Cooking has a fabulous “Ginger Beef and Broccoli Stir Fry”. Stir fries are a great way to move Master away from the all meat meal, adding some more interesting veggies to His diet.

Canadian Living Magazine also produces some great stir fry recipes in one of their Canadian Living’s Best specials 30 Minutes and Light. The “Chicken Fried Rice” is equal to any take out that I’ve had at Master’s house, and even better because I can use all the veggies that I like (no peppers for me!), and add extra water chestnuts, which will make Master come back for seconds. A recent magazine, I believe it was December’s, had a recipe for “Cashew Chicken” that I knew my Master would love. Canadian Living magazine is the most reliable food magazine I have found, and their cookbooks are well produced and always interesting. When I was teaching myself to cook in my twenties, I used Canadian Living recipes almost exclusively, as I knew I would not have to deal with too many disasters.

Sometimes I do give in to an occasional meal that is heavier on meat. Desperation Dinners by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross has a great recipe for “Sloppy Janes”. I have no idea what makes them different from Sloppy Joes since I had never eaten those, but this recipe is quick and delicious and also tastes great made with ground venison. I make it a little more interesting by using garlic parmesan buns or rosemary focaccia instead of the usual hamburger buns.

Another quick and reliable series is Canadian Sandi Richard’s Cooking for the Rushed. I have Cooking for the Rushed: Life’s on Fire and The Healthy Family. I think she has at least one more on the market. Recipes are divided by the week, and by the amount of time needed to prepare the meal. She also has sections for shopping lists so you can plan a week’s worth of meals, get everything and then move smoothly from one day to the next in her cookbook. I admit I have not tried this, mainly because I am usually only cooking for one. Each meal for me lasts at least two nights, with an extra put away in the freezer for when the time is short or for when Master visits and I can’t be home for lunch time. My favourite meal from Life’s on Fire is “Hazelnut Chicken with Pasta and Salad”. It’s basically a big one pot dish of veggies and chicken with a lovely sauce, flavoured with liqueur, that you toss with pasta. I do not have hazelnut liqueur, but I have had great success with Drambuie and other liqueurs. Although I usually follow recipes as to quantities of ingredients and am totally unable to cook without a recipe, I often substitute ingredients for others I might like more. Lamb’s Spiced Rum is my favourite substitution for vanilla in all sorts of recipes (especially French toast).

Master rarely gets dessert in my house, as I usually never have time to make one! I did manage “Whisky Pumpkin Pie” from Edna Staebler’s Food That Really Schmecks. The flavouring of the whiskey will really influence the flavour of the pie, so make it a good one. I tend to rely on a decent scotch, although since there is a large quantity needed to use a blend rather than single malt! (I doubt that’s what the Mennonites used for this, but you never know and Edna doesn’t say). There are a couple of good Canadian whiskeys on the market that have rather a fruity flavour that I think would be excellent for this pie, but I have not experimented with them yet.

I have many more cookbooks to search through for tempting recipes for Master, but we have limited days when I can cook for Him. I recently began suggesting that I cook one meal for His family when I visit. That way I can try more foods that He might like. Still, although it’s a lot of meat, nothing beats His steak on the bbq! Perhaps I should expand my repertoire of nutritious side dishes! Do you have a favourite cookbook that you would never be parted from? Are you trying to change your Master’s eating habits? Share your stories in the comments below!