And now for something completely different

Food, that’s what it is. And cooking.

I got a clue a very, very long time ago when I realized that watching Julia Child was the main thing keeping me from walking out into traffic.  My mom is a great cook so I grew up watching and learning how things are supposed to taste.  Ultimately, cooking is what I do almost as a daily meditation.  Who knew?  The trend now of purchasing already made food, and prepared foods, and all of that….I find rather strange.  How did we get to a place where we don’t have time to feed ourselves or the people we love?  Making something for someone to eat is, in my opinion, one of the most healing things that can be done.  To me the fact that it is no longer routine is very symptomatic of what ails us as a culture, but We’re Not Going There Today.  No, today we’re going to review Things I’ve Made Lately To Avert Irretrievable Mental Breakdown.

First: chocolate sauce.  We had The Abomination as a next door neighbor for quite some time.  He finally, blessedly, moved out.  This was with the same activity level as when he moved in, i.e., it all transpired between midnight and 3 a.m., lotsa noise.  The police came twice.  The move-in had involved him parking a HUGE diesel truck..where? Need you ask? in our driveway.  Then revving it full throttle with lights and beeping backup noises and fumes at 4:45 a.m.  It felt like the house had been rammed.  Not a good start.  So this time? After the first police visit (his behest; the story of his fleet of  junkers can wait for another time) I thought: Hmmm. Action must be taken here.  So I went into the kitchen and thought: chocolate.  Thomas Keller has a great, easy chocolate sauce recipe, the magic ingredient in which is corn syrup (small amount).  So I made chocolate sauce, put it on ice cream, and peace was restored in OUR household at least.  See how easy.

Secondly, sourdough bread.  I referred to the baguettes earlier, but really.  Gentle Readers, I was at the ravelled wet end of that week’s rope.  Pulling myself up off the floor, I made the baguettes.  It’s a two day process but not that big a deal once you get the hang of it.  By the time they came out of the oven the next morning, I felt like a real human bean again. An amazing lightness of spirit.   Plus, good value.  For about $4 I had $8 worth of excellent bread.

Thirdly, that hoary chestnut Coq au Vin.  For an expenditure of…$10? I had a meal that served 8 and was…fancy-seeming.  Chicken drumsticks and thighs and a $4 bottle of red wine created something very special indeed.  And easy!  I made that to celebrate the Inauguration, actually.  My wine merchant friend gave me a lovely bottle of Spanish Cava which was just the perfect thing.  Bliss.

Fourthly, the last Exceptionally Challenging Few Days.  Cooking saved me once again.  The Partner is waaaaaaay under the weather and on clear liquids.  I decided to make things that I liked, that he isn’t crazy about, to see if I could tweak them around so he WOULD like them at some future time.  I managed to make a tofu and cellophane noodle thing (cheap! fast! easy!) (Really.  $4 worth of ingredients and about 25 minutes to make.  For me that is REALLY amazing as I am the original slow food person. *SIGH*) that he roused himself to sniff, insisted on tasting, and said: wow. That’s great. I’d eat that.  Success, people.  Up to now he has hissed and made the sign of the cross at the mere mention of cellophane noodles.  Another small triumph, which was also quick and inexpensive, involved rigatoni, canned tuna, kalamata olives, grilled green bell peppers (which you could skip but I happened to have some.  99 cent bag of elderly peppers from produce market, bake in oven, keep in old mayo jar with olive oil and there it is) and spinach (or mache), with feta tossed in.  It was really yummy.  Partner agreed, and tuna/pasta things are another matter for hissing around here usually.

So I submit to you, even though I may appear to be a Major ThrowBack what with making everything myself, that cooking your own meals can really save your bacon.  Next installment will feature  Ancient Secrets of Gravy.

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