Previous Challenge Entry (Level 2 – Intermediate)
Topic: Cooking or Baking (01/04/07)
TITLE: Trials Of A Domestic Chef
By Darlene Casino
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I was in the kitchen preparing my first full dinner as a new bride. It was to be a New England boiled dinner, ‘just like his mama used to make’. Every so often he would call out the condition of his stomach. When I could no longer bear his mournful cries, I served dinner. After a bit, I noticed him chewing away with seemingly great effort. “Is there something wrong?” I inquired. “Well,” he answered gingerly, “it’s not quite like mom’s.” Later I learned this meal requires more than one and one half hours of cooking time!
Needless to say, I was not, nor am I now, a ‘wanna-be’ Betty Crocker.
As the years went by, I did manage to put food on the table for my family and most of it was edible. Often I had to remind a finicky child about the poor, starving children in some remote country. Of course, there came a time when that same child offered to send his dinner portion to one of those starving children. And there was that time, when they pointed to the dog who was standing over his bowl of stew, and remarked: “Look ma, even Blackie won’t eat it”.
I remember the day a friend gave me a recipe for ‘Italian Chicken’. It surprised me because I realized I had been making it for years without knowing it had a name. That night, I told my family that we were having Italian Chicken. As I watched how ravenously they ate, and how free they were with their compliments, a light went on in my understanding: evidently a dinner with a name is always more palatable than ‘something I just threw together’.
As for baked goods and deserts, I kept it simple… jello, ice cream, a store bought cookie now and then. Besides, everyone knows that sweets are not good for you!
With time, I grew bolder and one day I decided to make an apple pie. This was nearly my undoing. It doesn’t seem fair that so few ingredients should cause such distress. My first two attempts were disasters. I rolled and rolled and added more water, but all they would do is break apart like pieces of a puzzle. Finally, in a fit of frustration, I pitched the whole lump across the room nearly beaning my husband. I did eventually make peace with piecrusts when I decided I would roll them out once and whatever condition they were in was exactly what I wanted. I also learned the fine art of patching.
My sons were in their teen years when many of my friends went back to nature. Home made bread was the rage and before long, I joined them. This came easier to me. Maybe it was all the punching and slapping one gets to do! Of course there were days when life was against me and my bread didn’t rise. But for the most part it was a good experience. That is until I realized that my family attacked the bread fresh out of the oven, and slathered it with butter. However, cold bread could not be used for sandwiches or meals. Then I decided that the work and expense of the project was not practical.
Again, my hubby and I are alone. He has become less demanding with his meals. I have learned that home cooking can be achieved by mixing two or three boxes together. Actually, senior meals at local restaurants are quite economical and very tasty…
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