Thursday, March 1, 2012

Cooking Up A Storm

Well, maybe not a storm. More like a little dust devil.

I like cooking--I just don't. Actually, I started teaching myself to cook about 20 years ago, but my wife didn't like what I made and usually (teasingly) shooshed me out of "her" kitchen. In the past 4 or 5 years, I started watching the Food channel and, purely through osmosis, learned things I'd never known or understood before--such things as terminology; which tools to use for what; the indicators of knowing when something was "done."

Over the years I started feeling more comfident in the kitchen. Now, when my wife is out of town, I actually enjoy trying to prepare a meal. I must admit, my biggest downfall is multitasking in trying to prepare more than just a single item meal. I did observe that those on TV worked "smart and not hard" in that they prepared to cook by having previously measured portions in readily available cups, dishes and plates. I also learned that high heat is not necessarily the most effective way to cook. (I can see you giggling, but yes, I didn't know that before.)

When I was child, my grandmother taught me how to make homemade ice cream and that was something I would do at least once every summer when our children were growing up. In my teens, my mother taught me how to make a cake. (I have a recipe for a killer chocolate frosting that would even make my mother jealous....  She'd ask: "Why does the cakes you make disappear in a couple days and the ones I make sit around and get thrown out?" I'd laugh and say mine were moist (and they were) and tasted good.)

When I was in my 30's I finally learned how make scrambled eggs. (Hey, it was an achievement for me. I know, you're a professional chef and you find this all quite amusing.) Well, just last week, I got tired of scrambled eggs and wanted to be daring. I wanted to make something really hard--an omelette. So I watched some Youtube videos and then set out to do it--to make a French omelette. (I still struggle with coordinating anything beyond one item. So, I just can't time even making a piece of buttered toast or some hashbrowns. I just get too flustered. So I diced up some ham, pre-grated some sharp cheese, chopped some chives, mixed the egg with a little milk and whipped that with a fork. That was the prep. Next I heated the pan, dropped some butter, then poured the eggs and added the chives. I carefully followed the instructions in the video. Long story made short: It was delicious, but the presentation was lacking--it fell to pieces when I tried to plate it. (Ok, catch your breath and stop laughing so hard.) Oh, and I was actually able to make some tea that was ready just on time for me to plate the eggs.

That's pretty much my experience with cooking. (Altough I do make a great cappacino, that really isn't cooking.)

So, at nearly 61, I can make desserts (oh yeah, I forgot to mention I bought myself a Creme Brulee book and have gotten pretty good with that dessert.) I can scramble eggs and make coffee and I know how to prepare bagels and lox, but that's little more than assembling cold cuts. Even I know you can't call that "cooking."

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