Saturday, May 25, 2013

What's cooking?

So the kitchen is done, well at least all the appliances and cabinets and floor and ceiling fan are in, so I guess it is time to start cooking. I’ve gone to the store and bought a series of pots and pans and trays and have two drawers of utensils but there is a problem.  What do I want to cook?
Cooking, as I have probably spoken about earlier, is a family activity. People gather in the kitchen and chat, drink wine, add ingredients, learn secrets and taste the meal being prepared. To some this is a classroom to learn recipes to take home and experiment with on their families then to others it is just an excuse to get the family together. The room offers a warm smoky atmosphere that is inviting to all with the constant cutting and moving and cleaning and laughter surrounded by wonderful aromas. In the end, everyone gets to participate in the feast.
There is a history of cooking. Here is mine.
My mother wasn’t much of a cook though she stayed in the kitchen most of the time. Her mother also loved the kitchen and made sure everyone was fed but what was cooked. I didn’t like my mother’s scrambled eggs but I liked my grandmother’s scrambled eggs. I found out the secret ingredient was milk.
I learned to have a taste for meat and potatoes that was the staple diet of the 50’s kid. This moved us into fast food without any resistance.
In college, I was lucky enough to be working for a vending machine company that supplied my apartment with canned chili and stews and sandwiches wrapped in plastic. On Sunday, I would go to the local market and buy a cube steak, beans, and potatoes. Cooked on the small oven and eating in front of the 9” black and white television was the supreme meal of the week. Unfortunately cooking requires cleaning the pots and pans and plates and my roommate and I were not real good at doing that. That bad habit follows me to this day.
Once married I found there was a thing called a “tuna casserole” that was amazing because I had never eaten anything like that. Other than that I don’t remember any overwhelming food discovers other than burning meat on a small Hibachi on our small porch outside. Luckily we could rob the stores from my parents to heat up and stay alive.
Again living alone, I think I mainly ate out. I would ride to the local burger places and order enough for several days. A cold sandwich in paper is just as good as a hot sandwich on my pallet. Salads and vegetables were rare unless prepared by someone else.
Once someone else was there to take care of me and provide interesting meals, I was off the hook from deciding what to eat and only sat back and enjoyed the presentation. There was the satisfaction of old favorites like meat and potatoes and stews but she was curious and wanted to know more.
After some classes we turned to oriental dining. An entirely different spices and oils and preparations were required. Learned to eat with chopsticks. It was fun and adventurous but after awhile we ran out of variations.
Due to whatever extractions were going on, cooking became a problem so the kitchen was unassembled and take-out became the norm. Just like going out to a restaurant but not leaving home, we found a company that offered menu items delivered to your door. Greek salads, double cheese pizza, cheese logs, mushrooms and all kinds of variables became our daily diet. Like a meals-on-wheels plan, an order was placed and we had food in the house for a week.
The past couple of years I have tried all the different taste I can come up with. Meat and potatoes, salads, Mexican, oriental, sandwiches, grilled, fried, take-out, eat-in, and every other variation that I can think of has been tried and tasted. Watching all the cooking shows only confirm what I already know. I don’t check coupons because I seem to leave them at home. I don’t plan ahead for meals of the week because my taste changes from day-to-day. Recipes must present something very special for me to buy additional ingredients that I will later throw away. Preparation doesn’t excite me and cleaning up is a chore.
Now with all the facilities available to me and all the utensils to prepare all the ingredients the local market has to offer, what will I cook?


TripleG said...

Here you go:

1 cup barley
2 cans great northern beans, drained and rinsed
2 cans garbanzo beans, " "
1/2 green pepper, diced
1/2 red pepper, diced
1/2 bunch green onions, thinly sliced
1/2 cup sundried tomatoes, chopped
1/3 cup basil pesto
1/3 cup white wine vinegar
2 tbsp basting oil (or olive oil)
3 tbsp italian parsley, chopped

TripleG said...

one more ingredient: escarole

Bring barley and 2 1/2 cups salted water to boil in saucepan. Reduce heat to low, cook, stirring, about 25 min. Drain, using hot water to wilt chopped escarole. Rinse with cold water.
Combine cooked barley with all other ingredients in large mixing bowl. Chill.
Light red wine and opera music optional.