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3 PROMPTS IN ONE
13 October 2015
* What was the first thing you ever learned how to cook?
Oh Lord. The first thing I ever learned to cook? I don't have a clue, but it was probably chocolate chip cookies. My mother made them often and I loved them. Funny thing about chocolate chip cookies, though -- my favorite part is the part without the chips and there is a magic place where that part is just right. I can't explain the taste, but all I know is that store bought cookies don't have it and 90% of the time the cookies I make don't have it. But occasionally they do and then I struggle to remember what I did so I can do it next time, but next time they don't have it either. In my memory, my mother's cookies always had that taste. Is it light brown for dark brown sugar? Margarine for butter? Part shortening? I just can't seem to get it right, though the only person disappointed is me because they taste just fine.
I don't have a dish that is all my own made up stuff. For that you will have to go to son Tom. But I rarely make the same dish the same way twice. I have been known to take a recipe and other than the main ingredient (which was why I chose the dish in the first place), I have changed nearly every other ingredient because we didn't have what the recipe called for. Red wine for white, oregano for basil, orange for lemon, brown sugar for white, carrots for celery, red potatoes for white. Whatever. If the item is in the same category as the ingredient I am missing I'll substitute. Sometimes the results are better than the original, sometimes it's a big mistake. (The one ingredient I rarely need to substitute because I always have it is the one ingredient Walt would prefer I leave out entirely: onions.) But I figure if 10 year olds on the Food Network cooking contests can talk about "big bold flavors" and create amazing dishes, I can surely experiment.
I don't know that I have "a" most successful dish. One of Walt's favorites is Mexican Skillet, which came out of a La Leche League cookbook which was published in 1971 (I may even have a recipe or two in it). Mexican skillet is a favorite and I always use the recipe, though about half the ingredients have been substituted and I always make my own version.
There was a time when I occasionally made burgundy beef balls, from a Good Housekeeping cookbook. That was another of Walt's favorites. But I've kind of gotten away from beef in the last several years and don't cook much with it and the last time I made it, it didn't taste as good as I remembered it as tasting.
In the years when I was doing Chinese cooking, I could make a mean multi course Chinese meal, and in the years when we had lots of foreign students living with us, I made a mean feijoada (the national dish of Brasil) and a pretty good empanada (from Chile).
But these days, I don't cook as much as I used to and I'm learning the joys of having a Trader Joe's in the neighborhood. Just had their creamed spinach with summer squash au gratin tonight and why would I cook from scratch when that is so delicious?
PHOTO OF THE DAY
My favorite guy. He didn't win, but he was in the final 4.
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