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Entries in cooking (2)

Saturday
Aug292015

Getting my Gordon Ramsay on

I am not the world’s greatest cook. There, I said it. Quite frankly, I don’t have the patience or inclination to put forth the effort required to produce a five-star meal.  The problem is, however, my palate yearns for a more elevated cuisine than I can muster. 

I have been a rabid fan of Gordon Ramsay and his Hell’s Kitchen television show for years. This may seem a bit odd to you, since I am not all that fond of cooking.  But you have to admit, the dude is kind of adorable and makes cooking look so easy!  Maybe it’s all the cussing and yelling he does that inspire him and his followers to create culinary masterpieces. That being said, it doesn’t really faze or motivate me.  I just like to watch. Ahem…

Recently, however, the “chef bug” bit me and I have been cooking with a new enthusiasm and exuberance. It’s kind of scary, really.  I’m measuring ingredients, chopping garlic into teensy-weensy pieces, and dirtying every pot and pan in the house. My apron has never seen such action. My frig contains fresh produce and herbs, when it’s more accustomed to soured milk and containers of moldy, long-forgotten leftovers. 

What brought on this sudden lapse in providing microwavable misery-on-a-plate, you ask?  I blame it on the Cooking Channel.  I saw a commercial for a company called Blue Apron and I was hooked.  Blue Apron mails you different meals to cook, providing all the ingredients measured out and ready to incorporate into a stunning dish that draws oohs and ahhs from all your friends. Well, at least the ones who can’t cook.  They will eat anything.

 

 

So I ordered my first box of Blue Apron which consisted of three different meals for two.  This week it was spiced meatballs, salmon, and chicken something or other. So far, I’ve made the spiced meatballs. It took me 1.5 hours, when the recipe says 20 minutes. I had to learn to cut and smash garlic.  I had to learn to pit olives.  I had to learn about whisking, sautéing, braising, boiling, and a whole bunch of other cooking terms. All of a sudden, this new adventure in which I had plunged was proving to be a pain in the ass.  I’m going back to delivery and dinners-in-a-bag.

Admittedly, it was a little fun in the beginning. The Blue Apron box comes with recipes printed on large laminated paper (so you can wipe off the spaghetti sauce stains and your tears, as they happen).  The recipe cards also tell you how to do each little thing, just in case you’ve been living with your head under a rock, and don’t know an olive pit from a mosh pit.  I was kind of disappointed to learn the difference, to tell the absolute truth.

But I pushed onward.  I chopped that garlic, and I rolled out those meatballs. I made the summer squash salad with lemon juice, no pith.  Yes, I learned about pith, too.  My cookery vocabulary runneth over.  I can talk risotto, scallions and couscous with the best of them.

But I digress. The Blue Apron experience was fun for about five minutes and then it just became work. So what did I take away from this fancy food fiasco?

 

  • You can put the bad cook in the kitchen, but you can’t make her tasty.

 

No wait.  Let me try that again.

 

  • You can give the bad cook fancy cookware, but you can’t blame her when she sells it on eBay.

 

Dang.  Okay, one more try.

 

  • If you love your bad cook, let her go.
  • If she doesn’t return, your stomach will thank you.
  • If she does return, put her in handcuffs, order take-out, and watch some “Hell’s Kitchen.”

 

 

 **Images from Google Images

Wednesday
Feb272013

You know when you peel an orange, how the juice squirts in your eye? Yea, it’s like that

That’s how cooking is for me. One big old squirt of orange right smack in the eyeball.  Painful but not fatal.  An irritant but not a deterrent to the craft.  Just annoying.  And to think, just a mere five years ago I was perfectly content with my cooking skills.  In fact, cooking was one of the few stress-free tasks in my life. I had it down to a science, planning meals with stealth-like precision.

 ********

A typical week of menus might have looked something like this: Notice, if you will, the meals got steadily easier as the week progressed and my interest waned:

  • Sunday:  Pot Roast with vegetables, rolls, some kind of yummy pie or cake
  • Monday:  Spaghetti with meat sauce, garlic bread and salad
  • Tuesday:  Cream of Mushroom Chicken, rice, green beans
  • Wednesday:  Manwich (brand name, not a lesbian man-hating ritual, I promise), chips, macaroni salad
  • Thursday:   Bologna and cheese sandwich, leftover macaroni salad, fruit cocktail from the can.
  • Friday:  Take out.  Order in.  Or just do fasting and take a nap meditate. Chilled wine. Because there’s always room for Jell-O wine.
  • Saturday:  Margaritas and whatever was in the little bowl on the bar (not counting the cigarette butts).

Yes those were the good old days.  Back then, I thought I was a pretty good cook.  And then everything changed.  It was a recipe for disaster, and the name of the dish was The Cooking Channel.

Add one stormy weekend afternoon. Alone.

Combine boredom and channel surfing.

Set television to The Cooking Channel.

Sit down and get comfy.  Dare not get up until it is done.

Add the final ingredient – Hunger

Voila!  Somewhere a timer went off. I found myself staring at a very attractive woman fixing up some mighty sexy vittles.  I was instantly mesmerized. I was stunned beyond cognition.  I may have even been in love.

And then the realization hit me like a bucket of wet spaghetti. That woman on The Cooking Channel was nothing like me. And, she didn’t want me like I wanted her. She wanted my brain. She must have been an alien.

I had no idea what she was cooking (it looked good) or how she was preparing it (it looked complicated) or even what she was using to cook it in (no resemblance at all to my discount non-stick Wal-Mart cookware).  Something inside me knew it was nothing like I had ever experienced before and many questions entered my mind.  Like what the fuck was brine?  And when did they come up with risotto anyhow?  And lastly, how the hell did those chefs cut those vegetables so fast?  They appeared to have all ten fingers, so was it all just a ruse?  I could have pondered that stuff for hours. 

Becoming aware of this new information made me feel small and insignificant. Still hungry, but small nonetheless. The world was a big bad place, full of big bad chefs, put on earth to make me feel inferior.

 ********

That’s how it’s been for me since I found The Cooking Channel.  I now lust after lavish culinary concoctions splashed across my TV screen by famous chefs, while wishing I’d sprung for the Smell-O-Vision option from my cable company.

What?

Smell-O-Vision? It could happen. A girl can have a smelly dream.

What?

My menus have changed somewhat over the years, as well, but not from anything I learned on The Cooking Channel.  I sit and watch the lovely Giada prepare her repertoire of decadent deliciousness (and her food looks yummy too), and then I watch Rachel Ray cook up magic in a thousand dollar copper fry pan, and then I drool over Ida’s specialties on The Barefoot Contessa.  Every movement is like a seductive dance.  They pull me in with their wicked crafting of food.  I.Belong.To.Them. 

However.

By the time I finish watching the show and snap out of my entranced state, I have absolutely no idea what happened.  I just know it was wonderful.  I just know I went to a happy place for a little while.

But I still can’t cook like those people on The Cooking Channel, no matter how long I watch. I think it’s a conspiracy. I think there are secret messages deep within all that fancy rattling of the pots and pans on those shows.  They want me to watch. They want me to fall in love. They want me to buy their products and worship their awesomeness. But those bitches are not teaching me a damned thing.

I’m hooked on The Cooking Channel.  Tomorrow night I’m going to eat my bologna and cheese sandwich while watching Chopped.  Not sure about the proper wine pairing for bologna yet, but I have a few hours to research.

Bon appétit.

 

 

Images from Google Images