Saturday, July 03, 2010

RRPC: Here's One I Made Earlier

My entry for the Round Robin Challenge: Food Preparation (as suggested by Sherrie of the blog Sherrie's Stuff) is going to be a bit of a rant. Apologies in advance! Let's start with a quote:
Jeanine (Jami Gertz): I don't cook. I reheat.
--from Sibling Rivalry (1990)
I've quoted that before, many times over. I'll continue to quote it, as often as it takes!

I'm a triple threat in the kitchen: I don't like to cook, I don't like to clean up, and I don't do either job very well. For me, food preparation usually consists of opening a $1.99 hoagie from Safeway and adding mustard and an extra slice of cheese, or pulling something out of the freezer and sticking it in the microwave for 4:44. The aftermath of my "cooking" tends to look like this:

I have numerous reasons (or at least excuses) for my lack of expertise or interest in cooking:

1. My mom, who considered herself an inferior cook compared to her own mother, did not really have the option of not cooking for her family of four, despite being a professional psychologist with a job, a private practice, a theatre group for which she wrote, directed and acted, and five boards of directors on which she served at the same time, all while suffering from polio encephalitis and its aftereffects. She kept things simple: one meat (chuck steak, pork chops with tomato soup dumped on top, Shake N Bake chicken, hamburgers or hot dogs), one starch (Kraft Dinner, instant mashed potatoes, or Franco-American canned spaghetti) and a canned vegetable. Sometimes we just went with tv dinners. She had very little interest in cooking, and over the years did less and less of it. She even wrote a satirical song (sung to Hernando's Hideaway) about her only-slightly-exaggerated attitude toward housework. It ran, in part:
Once like you I was a house-slave,
Chained right to the kitchen sink.
But the worries that the house gave
Drove me straight to drink!

So, not for me that new vacuum sweeper.
Making love is more fun and cheaper.
So get wise and, just close your eyes and join:
Come on and be a slob! Olé!

Actually, she did keep up the housework better than I do, and she wasn't much of a drinker. In fact, she treated alcoholics for a living. Still, it's safe to say that some of my attitude toward cooking comes from someone whose recipe for "Italian spaghetti" was as follows:

Part of a bag of frozen diced green peppers and onions
One pound of hamburger
One can of Campbell's tomato soup
One can of Contadina tomato paste
One package of vermicelli

In a cast iron skillet that's a pain to clean, sauté frozen onions for Karen to laboriously pick out of her food later, and also the frozen green peppers, in a pat of butter or some bacon grease that's been sitting out in an old green coffee cup. Add hamburger and continue cooking, breaking the hamburger into chunks. Add tomato soup and tomato paste. Meanwhile, boil vermicelli in the "spaghetti pot." Mix with sauce and dole out onto plates. Serves 4.

My dad and I used to add oregano to ours, but that wasn't until the early 1970s.

Um, I seem to have gone on a bit more than I meant to with reason #1 why I'm not much of a cook. Let's go for reasons 2-4:

2. John doesn't like it when I cook steak, lamb, etc., because he hates the smell of cooking meat and we don't have a vent in the kitchen.

3. John doesn't like it when I cook in the summer, because it heats up the house, which has only room air conditioners in three rooms, even further. This is Tucson, after all!

4. John doesn't like it when I cook anything complicated, because I make a mess! Oh, and I don't like cleaning up the mess!

Case in point: when John got home from work on Thursday at almost 9 PM (he worked overtime and then went to the gym), he saw this on the stove:

John assumed it was a dirty dish from earlier in the week, when I baked fettuccine alfredo from two packets of chicken strips, fresh fettuccine, premade alfredo sauce, a splash of milk and a handful of shredded cheeses from a bag. He went straight to the fridge and started eating a $2.00 hoagie. I had to tell him that the dish of the stove contained freshly baked ravioli. It was similar to the fettuccine but made with whole wheat spinach ravioli and a different sauce, plus the leftover half of a roasted chicken, cut up. I'd already eaten my half. John ate part of what was left, and I finished it off tonight. Now I've got the cleanup to do:

It tasted pretty good, but was it worth the effort? Probably not.

Okay, okay. For you guys, I'll cook. It's something very simple, which I've made several times recently. It's flan, the Mexican version of custard. I've been making it as part of "Fish Custard," a better-than-you-think-it-is food combination introduced on an episode of Doctor Who in early April. I can't find packaged American custard from Jello at all any more, so I've been substituting the two closest packaged products I can find, flan or Crème brûlée.

Here goes:

The ingredients are easy: a box of flan mix and two cups of milk.

Step One of the directions, and I'm already messing up! I'm supposed to pour caramel sauce in each custard bowl, but ended up getting more than half of it in the first bowl! I evened it out as best I could.

Step Two: mix the milk and custard mix in a saucepan, and stir constantly while bringing it to a boil.

Step Three: pour it into the custard dishes, right on top of the caramel sauce.

Step Four: put the bowls in the refrigerator for an hour to set. Good thing I laid down a paper towel, because despite my best efforts I spilled a little.

The fridge was not the only venue for my clumsiness. Pouring equal measures of boiling liquid into small ceramic bowls is hard to do well with one hand while photographing the proceedings with the other hand. Inevitably, I made a mess!

Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a kitchen to clean up. Take a look at everyone else's food preparation adventures. I'm sure most of them do this stuff right!


Linking List 
as of 5:46 AM PDT/MST Saturday, July 3rd, 2010 (K)
Sherrie's Stuff

Carly - Posted

Gattina - Posted!
keyhole Pictures

Linda - Posted
Mommy's Treasures

Freda Mans
Day One

Karen - Posted!
Outpost Mâvarin

Rich - Posted!
Rich Image

Jama - Posted!
Sweet Memories

Sandy - Posted!
From The Heart Of Texas

Your Daily Photo Depot

SuzyQ421's Photo Blog

Jenn **Welcome, new Robin!** - Posted!
Shutter Happy Moments


Carly said...

Hi Karen

Oh well, different lifestyles, different food prep options... right? Love the Eating Right products, especially the Chicken in Basil Cream sauce. It makes for a nice, low fuss weekday lunch.


Gattina said...

I loved cooking very much it was a sort of hobby for me. But after 40 years of cooking I am a "little" fed up, lol !

To your question about the lost head on the roman statue, it was probably due to an earthquake, these statues often date before JC !

Jama said...

I love cooking and cleaning up! but after years of doing so for the family, I welcome any help I get in the kitchen. Usually it's the younger son, he's into cooking. I'm glad I 'trained' him from young! lol

Linda said...

Most of my cooking is in the form of heating or reheating these days, too. Love the pictures!

Rich said...

Great write up as usual, I really enjoy reading your thoughts on the assignment. I hope you got it all tidy afterwards with out to much effort. :)