Friday, 15 October 2010
The Crazy Cook
It’s not enough to learn how to cook, you have to also know how to feast.
I grew up learning how to feast, but not how to cook.
My mother used to throw the best dinner parties. She’d hire a caterer and then put her energy into helping her guests enjoy themselves. They did, even if it meant they had to show up in costume or prepare a little rhyme for the occasion. I remember “The Old Fashioned Merry Christmas” when two of the men showed up in long red nightshirts, striped stockings, and matching night caps. Another time the harpist from our local symphony arrived for dinner, her harp carried in by her dutiful husband. It was talent night, and we were excited that she would be playing for us. Instead it was her husband who performed. While she strummed in the background, he read an “Ode from the Harp Player’s Husband,” which recounted his years of carting the monstrous instrument all over the region.
At mom’s parties the food was always fabulous, but it was the feast that made the memory.
How to cook chicken…
That was all well and good, but I still didn’t know how to cook. Oh, I could whip up a batch of chocolate chip cookies, but anything past that was new territory.
My husband married me anyway. Three weeks later–after our honeymoon, Christmas with my family, a cross country move, and several dinner invitations–the time had come. We weren’t going to be able to feast if I couldn’t cook.
“What should we have for dinner?” I asked brightly.
“How about chicken?” my husband suggested.
“Sure.” I pulled some chicken out of the freezer. “How do you cook chicken?”
He rolled up his sleeves, gathered up his two years of bachelor cooking experience, his mother’s recipe cards, and pitched in to help. That was good, because when I opened a cookbook I had received as a wedding present, I was overwhelmed. I had no idea there were that many chicken recipes in the world.
After that experience Joy of Cooking became my bedtime reading. Luckily for both of us, I liked cooking better than any of the other household tasks that vied for my attention.
Not a food blog, but…
I still remember how it felt to be mystified by cookbooks. To feel like they were speaking another language. To be intimidated if the ingredient list was more than five items long. To give up if the steps involved turning to another recipe and completing it before returning to this one. Even now, I like to cook, but I’m slow and tend to drop things. If you were to watch me cook, you’d probably get frustrated. I’m a little crazy.
That’s why this is not a food blog, it’s a Bible study blog. But blogging makes me hungry, so let’s talk about food, too. From time to time I’d like to share some of my favorite recipes and tips, minus the food photos and dietary correctness.
From one crazy cook to another.