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2011-08-24 / Loose Ends

Interested cooks always do better in the kitchen

Susan Nienow

I don’t cook. I used to cook and did as well as most people, but gradually my other half started taking over. First it was breakfast on weekends and then dinners on the grill. When my family quit showing up for dinner, I lost whatever interest I had in meal planning and preparation.

One of the kids would be working with a group on a project, and they were going to get a pizza. Someone else was going to catch a burger before going to a meeting, and my other half was going to be late and would get something on the way home. That left me with dinner for four in the oven.

Then the kids went to college, and it was just the two of us. One day my other half said he wouldn’t mind cooking if I could wait until later to eat. He said it relaxed him after work. It probably would sound better if I said I took some time to think about it, but I handed him my wooden spoon before he had second thoughts and haven’t regretted it since.

Give me a piece of toast or some yogurt for breakfast, and I’m happy. When he has time, my other half wants a meal – eggs, bacon or sausage, toast or an English muffin, or he’ll make an omelet. I can’t look at an egg before noon. When I was “cooking,” my menu featured toaster waffles, or if I was really being creative, biscuits from a box with honey.

There are some dishes I became attached to when I was in charge of the kitchen. Meatloaf, lasagna, mashed potatoes – don’t mess with a good thing. I want plain, old meatloaf, not the enhanced variety. And don’t put sausage in my lasagna. It should be hamburger meat and not ground turkey either.

I have tried to watch food shows. Tonight I caught the words “liver emulsion,” so that was the end of that show. On another I learned to whip egg whites in a copper bowl. It’s better than stainless, and don’t use plastic, or the fat will stick to it. The only copper bowl we have has a plant in it. I confess I don’t know a frappe from a flambé.

My favorite part of these shows is watching the chefs slice vegetables. They are wizards with knives. It’s like watching the gymnastic finals at the Olympics. When I use a sharp knife, I always cut something I am not supposed to, like my finger or the bag the cheese goes back into.

One of these shows challenges chefs to make the best dish of their lives. I can’t remember what they chose, but I have three dishes in my repertoire now: boiled eggs, Lean Cuisine and toast. I have to use the burners for the eggs, the toaster oven for the toast and the microwave for the Lean Cuisine. I have complete command of the kitchen.

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