Saturday, November 29, 2008

Family Cooking Adventures

I believe I mentioned that I, a non-cook, was venturing to make the turkey dressing for the family gathering this year (rather than buying my assignment.)

Here's how the project shook down. I stirred stuff up and cooked it and it was bad: no taste, weird texture. So I tore it up and added milk and some spices and whizzed it all up with a mix-master and cooked it again. Then packed it up for the trip to the coast.

The final product was better. Edible. Would have been good except for the fake bacon bits I threw in, which sort of dominated. Well, no one complained.

However, my ten year old nephew Tucker produced a triumph. His assignment was corn pudding (he likes to cook.) I didn't know who'd made what or that any of the kids had cooked anything, and said at dinner: "Who brought this?" It was phenomenal...inspired. The kid has a talent.

Talent or not --and both of those situations were represented-- I think Tucker and I were both pretty bold. For a ten year-old boy to produce a work of art in the form of a casserole...or for me to take a shot at something non-store-bought for the occasion both strike me as venturing outside the ordinary. And we all had a good time.

Hope your Turkey Days were good.

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K.B. said...

Have you ever picked up a copy of Cooks Illustrated, Peggy? It's one of my favorites. (I also have an online subscription.) I get the Annual every year. There are people out there who are convinced that I'm a really good cook, but I'm just following the instructions provided by CI.

I love them -- when they set out to figure out a great recipe, they go through a jillion iterations of the recipe, making teensy little changes each time, figuring out the food science, etc. And at the end of this very carefully researched process, then they give you an easy to follow, suitable for the home cook recipe.

Mind you, sometimes it backfires a bit. My ex told me he loved Chicken and Dumplings, so I set out to make the best dumplings ever, as light as could be, just a little soggy on the outside, with a lovely stewed chicken with a beautiful gravy. Found just what I needed in CI and carefully and joyfully made some truly beautiful chicken and dumplings...

Only to discover that my husband only liked dumplings the way his mother had made them: leaden, heavy, soggy masses of dough that really let you know you'd eaten them! :D

Peggy Payne said...

It's funny how differently we define "good." And everything else, for that matter.

I could throw down some of either one of those chicken dishes. They both sound good to me.

I grew up eating Southern, but am extremely flexible.

I've found that one of the advantages of not being a sophisticated foodie is that I find almost all food good.

K.B. said...

Yup. I am definitely a gourmand, not a gourmet! On the way home from the pub tonight, we stopped and had a doner roll at our favorite Turkish takeaway in Camden Town... nummy nummy! :)

Peggy Payne said...

I think I'll start classifying myself as a gourmand. Much cooler than fast-food-enthusiast or non-cook or sugar addict.