Category Archives: cooking

one hot mess.

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french-onion-soup

made a big pot

of bubbling hot

french onion soup

ladled it into little bowls

topped it with

buttered french bread slices

gruyere cheese

broiled it until it was just so

fully enjoyed it

though i knew

my big pan

was going to be tough to clean 

after caramelizing the onions

and 

cooking it for

such a very long time

to create a rich flavor

so 

after our meal

and

emptying out

the rest of the soup

i remembered 

an old kitchen trick

 reheat the pan

on low

with a little

water and dish soap

to unstick the brown bits

making for an easier cleanup

and

went off to work

on an art project

in the other room

music playing

windows open

nice breeze on a hot night

a familiar scent filled the air

wondered why the neighbors

were grilling out so late at night

took a break from the art

to get a drink of water

realized the 

‘grilling’

was going on right in my own kitchen

apparently

i’d forgotten about

my clever cleanup trick

that was fully in process

the water had cooked down long ago

the pan was almost on fire

inside was black and crackling

IMG_0866i quickly turned off the heat

grabbed the pan

with hot pads

put it into my sink

too hot to add any water

let it cool down overnight

in the morning

finally decided to

tackle the scrubbing job

now made so much harder

with the ultra char-grilled pan

went to pull it out of the sink

it seemed a bit stuck

wrestled with it a bit

finally used all of

my upper body muscle power

snapped it out of there

 flipped it over to see why

it was sticking

and

voila!

it had been so hot

that it had melted right to my sink

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and when i yanked it out

it took some of the ceramic with it
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 now

i need

a new pan

and

a new sink

but

damn, that soup was good.

“the only real stumbling block is fear of failure.

in cooking you’ve got to have a what-the-hell attitude.”

― julia child

 

‘let’s just make something quick ‘n easy.’

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(actual brick, not the frozen chili brick, but a very close resemblance)

it was a blustery night

mg and i had gone out early for a bit 

then later

as we settled in

for a movie

and a place on the couch

in warm pajamas

we had the great idea

to make

something

to eat

that was

‘quick ‘n easy’

we were 

too tired

to even

make sandwiches

and

that’s when

we found it

the massive

frozen brick of leftover chili

the perfect solution

no effort involved

no trouble at all

but

first

we had to get it out

of it’s plastic container

and thought

it would pop right out

but

it was frozen solid to the sides

we used hot water 

and knives

and all kinds of sharp objects

and we wrestled with it

and looked for the scissors 

to cut the container

off of it

and finally

coaxed it out

and

into the pan

where it refused 

to return to it’s original form

and we scraped it

and flipped it

and splashed stuff all over

and tried to chop it up

and chipped away at it 

yet

the brick held fast

and i wished 

we had

a blowtorch

and we were almost sweating

from all the exertion

and we could not stop laughing

at this quick ‘n easy solution

and i heard things like:

‘maybe a sandwich would have been easier after all’

and 

‘i think we’re making some headway with the edges’

and 

we laughed even harder

as it steamed

and simmered

and sputtered

and finally:

‘i want to be positive and not negative, but there is still a lot of it that is frozen…’

and 

it held fast

and we decided to walk away for a time

and when we returned

it had

somehow

transformed

back

to its 

liquid state of being

at last

and 

we poured it into bowls

and it was hot as all get up

and our tongues were on fire

and it 

hadn’t exactly been

‘quick ‘n easy’

but 

it was so worth it.

——

leftovers in their less visible form are called memories.

stored in the refrigerator of the mind and the cupboard of the heart.

-thomas fuller

too many cooks make a fine soup

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how do

a dozen adults plus teenagers, toddlers, babies and dogs

all in one kitchen

end up with a perfect meal?

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m and j actively working on their teamwork skills

as the fine web

of family connections

spins and grows

the communal vacation kitchen

thrives and glows.

philmon

“in the long history of humankind…

those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.”


~ charles darwin

the kitchen is a country in which there are always discoveries to be made. – Grimod de la Reynière

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yesterday

i wrote about my world of baking.

today

you can see a bit of where the magic happens.

and yes,

a good bottle of red,

hearts of all sizes,

animal head toothpicks,

and sparkly puffballs

are sometimes a part of the kitchen experience.

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I do like to cook; I’m sort of a mad scientist in the kitchen.
Kyle Chandler

 

it’s clever, but is it art? – rudyard kipling

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cake

my desire to bake began when i was just a little girl.

i was beside myself with joy when santa brought me an easy bake oven on my 6th christmas.

i imagined myself cranking out pies and cookies and cakes and cupcakes.

and making my first fortune.

i’d set up my bakery along with my lemonade stand.

and people would flock to my store.

and i would spend my days baking and going to first grade.

hasbr0

finally came the moment

when i whipped up my first cake.

put it in the oven.

realized it was cooked by a light bulb.

and would take a while.

and everything was miniature.

and each cake would serve a small mouse or two.

and i had no way to buy more mixes to bake with.

and it was a dream i’d have to wait on.

years passed.

and i grew up and continued baking.

using a trial and error method.

and i especially loved to make cupcakes for people.

for any and all occasions.

the brits call them fairy cakes.

and that is the perfect name for them.

you love mexican chili chocolate?

coconut lemon cream?

caramel and pecan?

no problem, i can do that.

i wanted them to be pieces of art.

with flavors, and colors, and designs, and surprises.

all wrapped in pretty little papers.

but they didn’t always look that way.

so.

i decided to take a six week cake decorating class.

i signed up and bought all of my supplies.

 tips, turntables, icing knives, pastry bags, pans, colors and flower pins.

and went to my first class.

taught by a seasoned cake decorator.

my classmates –

were a mother and angsty daughter who had never decorated before.

and three teenage employees of the local ice cream store.

i figured i could hold my own with this group.

homework assignments

were to bake cakes and cupcakes and bring them in to decorate.

my kind of  homework!

wilton-cake-decorating

and i imagined myself doing this.

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and this.

but –

once we started mixing the frostings, the icings, the colors

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my area actually looked more like this.

i had color all over the place, under my nails, in my cuticles, it dyed my hands and arms and my frosting got too warm and didn’t mix to the right consistency and i had a hard time filling the pastry bag without it getting all over and had to bite the tip off of it as i lost my scissors somewhere in the fray and i had to change tips to make flowers and edgings and all kinds of things and my book was covered in color and was wet and i clogged the class sink when i had to scrape off my buttercream frosting and start over a few times or so.

and somehow, the mother daughter team excelled.

and were naturals, working in sync like a precision ice dancing team.

and the baby teens perfectly piped their cakes, with nary a misstep.

and i wondered how they did it.

and i noticed the ice dancers preloaded their pastry bags at home.

using the colors they wanted, with the tips they needed, and closed off the ends.

and the teens just chose simple designs and one color and one consistency.

aha! that’s it!

but, as the weeks went on,

i never really got better at the process.

luckily our teacher was very kind and diplomatic.

and she liked my ‘shabby chic by accident’ and ‘evil clown’ style cupcakes.

and we all bonded in our mutual creative endeavor.

and shared stories and laughed a lot.

and i accepted that each week i would leave with a different color of skin.

and when we all made our final cakes for graduation day.

 the mom and daughter and teens all had beautiful cakes.

and when my teacher saw my final cake

(at the top of this post)

she said she had never seen a sheep and dachshund and polka dot cake before.

and it looked like a wonderful piece of art.

and she wanted a picture of it to keep in her book.

to show future classes.

and i was a happy baker.

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 Stories aren’t the icing on the cake; they are the cake!

Peter Guber