Cooking, etc...


Once in awhile, I like to talk about cooking. And baking. And food. I don’t have the innovation, time, or photography skills to be a food blogger, but man, would it be a good time. There’s something about following a recipe and working with ingredients that is the perfect mix of science, creativity, and focus. Things have been chaotic lately, and the constant of cooking is calming. A cup of flour is always a cup of flour. Water will boil when heated hot enough, and noodles will soften. Messes made are easily enough cleaned up. While some recipes are complex and frustrating, there’s still some sort of fundamental simplicity in the process: gather ingredients, combine, wait, eat.
My newest challenge has been week-night dinners, since my husband gets home late and we generally have about twenty minutes to eat before it’s time to start putting the baby down. Things have to be easy enough to prepare while simultaneously dropping Puffs on a high chair tray, but still more nutritious and labor-intensive than popping something frozen in the oven and setting a timer (I cook Sunday-Thursday nights). Prep work can’t involve chopping seventeen vegetables and there can’t be multiple stages that require precise timing. We’ve adapted, though. Tonight will be good old homemade Mac and Cheese, with super sharp cheddar and a few tablespoons of wing sauce for a tiny kick.
Speaking of the kid, it’s also been fun starting to feed him “people food.” He’s particularly fond of pancakes, waffles, bread- he’s basically you’re quintessential carb-loader. He’ll eat cooked, mushy vegetables, guacamole, sips of fruit smoothies, and peaches, too. He tends to always looks disgusted when he tries something the first few times, and often gags. It’s hilarious.
This past weekend I made a Lemon Blueberry Cake from Sally’s Baking Addiction, and it was delicious. Our lemon tree is producing fruit with exceptional enthusiasm, so I was pleased to find a reason to use three of the twenty or so growing. Baking a cake from scratch can sometimes be a bit dicey, and I knew this one would be no exception, since it purposefully has a heavy batter so that the berries don’t sink while baking. Over-mixing would be a constant threat, leading to a hard, dense cake. But, it worked out. The triple layers felt fancy, and  cream cheese frosting is always a win. It basically tastes like the cake version of a blueberry muffin. My husband, a cake-hater, ate more than one piece and suggested I make it again for Sawyer’s birthday in a few months (we’ll see).
This weekend we watched Chef, a movie starring Jon Favreau, about a talented chef that has to decide between working at a restaurant and cooking boring menu, or taking a risk on his own. He takes a loan from his ex-wife’s ex-husband (played by the always hilarious Robert Downey Jr), and starts a food truck specializing in Cuban cuisine. I generally dislike movies (or more so the process of watching them), and I thoroughly enjoyed this one.
I recently read Sous Chef by Michael Gibney, and then had my students do a quick analysis of some of the passages in it, since the writing is great for teaching certain elements of style. I’m also listening to Anthony Bourdain’s Medium Raw, which I downloaded from Audible right before I canceled my subscription. I love that man. I also added several other cooking memoirs to my wish list. Because having 67 unread books on my shelves isn’t enough, apparently.
I’m also coveting quite a few kitchen products. I desperately, desperately, desperately need a good set of kitchen knives (and the skills to use them properly). I’m not going to spend hundreds of dollars, but I’ve had my eye on these or these. I also want a new food processor, since all I have right now is a mini Cuisinart one that holds just a few cups. I’d also like some new mixing bowls, a blender (I broke the last one… again), food storage containers, and serving platters. It’s the whole want/need conundrum. It’s not like going out and buying a new purse, since it’s “for the house,” but still. Cuts will have to be made.
In the non-cooking/baking area of the food arena, I have to give a shout-out to General Mills for bringing back French Toast Crunch cereal. Time to hoard.

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