Tuesday, January 15, 2013

TdJ: Cooking

And today I come to a joy.
Basically, with Topic du Jour every third post is a joy in my life.  The instructions were to alternate with a worry, then something I need to pay attention to, then a joy.  Hence, this is the third TdJ, so this is the joy.

I love to cook.

Sometimes I am fabulous.  And I don't just mean, "Damn right I am great in the kitchen, I could eat for hours."  Although I used to be able to eat for hours, but then again, that is another TdJ.

I actually enjoy the act of cooking.  I like throwing some ingredients together - especially organic, home grown (i.e., farmer's market - no garden for me the last few years), working the alchemy and then savoring the results.

Usually my results are pretty good.  They range from sublime to edible.  In the process I have been able to educate at least one child's palate.

Case in point: Sunday night I had created a dipping oil for some sourdough to go with our shrimp scampi and pasta and wilted in garlic oil rainbow chard.  I used the new bottle of olive oil to wilt the chard, but the EVOO (which has been around and loving used for a few months - not so extra virgin olive oil any more, whore) on the dipping sauce.  The husband slurped it up.  The 17 yr old took one swipe with her bread and then said, "Disgusting!  What the hell is that?" and pointed to the dipping oil. I took a tentative taste: rancid.  Husband cannot taste that oil is rancid.  I am not sure why - perhaps the 50 years of eating shitty food has ruined his palate?  Maybe because he is a yankee and eats weird shit? Or maybe because his childhood gourmet delights were shit on a shingle and creamed peas?  Who knows.  At any rate, I am proud of my elder daughter, who caught it right away.  She is the one I raised with less male interference.  The younger daughter ate pasta with cheese on it that night.  No shrimp.  A crust of dry bread.  She is fighting the education of her palate all the way.  I suspect that when I am not around, her father is telling her that food not on the dollar menu is not worth eating, or some shit.  Because she is the least adventuresome consumer I have met.  Even my mother and sister will venture out on a culinary limb more often.

However, sometimes the results of my kitchen witch alchemy are less than sublime.  I've already told you of Sunday's rancid dipping sauce.  I have made things from recipes which were hideous.  I have also gotten a bag or two of vegetables at Trader Joe's that sounded wonderful by description but fell flat in the meal.  I have made things that were perfectly fine but by the time they were served I was no longer in the mood for them.  I have also made things - and this occurs most often - that my family loves but I cannot for the life of me understand the allure.

I am an impatient cook.  I am not afraid of the high setting on the stove.  I do not panic when pots boil and a little water sloshes.  My husband, however, if he hears a pot boiling, will go shut the stove off entirely or turn it down low.  A real problem if the recipe calls for boiling for longer than 30 seconds, which all of them do.  I am not a fan of overcooked pasta, yet my husband eschews al dente for mushy.     The most entertaining experiment in my household has been the whistling tea pot.  When I first started using it again (instead of the electric hot pot I've used for years for my tea), Tim and Chloe would go insane when it would whistle, run into the kitchen, turn off the stove and yell for me that the pot was whistling.  Now he will lie on the couch and she in her bed and ignore that thing until it boils dry.

I am also in love with garlic.  It features in at least two meals I cook each week.  My herb and spice cabinet is three shelves in a dedicated cabinet, and when I cleaned and organized it - New Year's Eve, of course - I counted over 100 varieties.  I had 11 kinds of curry, which I do feel is excessive, as I only make curries a couple of times a month.

I don't cook as much as I would like.  This is usually because I am so exhausted when I get home from work, or so overwhelmed and over life in general on the weekends.  There is also the fact the kitchen is usually a mess from the culinary efforts and grazing of the rest of the family, who inhabit the house a great deal of hours per day than I do.

Cooking is comfort.  It is a way to exert a tangible effort to nurture my daughters.  And it's a creative outlet.  I am down with that.

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