Wednesday, June 22, 2005

The Cook Next Door

Two memes converged on my little kitchen this week. I'm finally getting around to the second, "The Cook Next Door", which was created by Nicky of delicious days and sent to me by way of Zarah at Food and Thoughts. OK, so let's see...

What is your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
I have a few of vague memories that I'll share, but I don't remember when it was that I first cooked something entirely on my own. My mom was really good about letting us help in the kitchen and often set us to work chopping or prepping things for the freezer. I remember sitting around the kitchen table shelling walnuts and chopping green peppers, and standing over the sink hulling strawberries. I remember that I had a cookbook intended for children, but can't remember anything I made out of it. I was briefly in the Girl Scouts and earned one merit badge - in cooking. Most of the work for that badge was done in a marathon session at a friend's house with her mom officiating (bless her heart). I remember one of the things we had to make was a white sauce. Most likely the first time I cooked without assistance from my parents was some occasion when I (or we) got up early to make breakfast in bed for them. I do remember a time when we made some sort of omelet which as I recall involved jelly or jam. After we served up the first one, my Dad came downstairs to assist with the second (which I think did not involve jelly or jam!).

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
Definitely my Mom. As I said before, she was really good about involving us with activities in the kitchen. That included the fun stuff - decorating the gingerbread cookies at Christmas, helping make dinner, etc., and the not so fun stuff - setting the table and cleaning the kitchen after dinner. I think I've probably acquired both her fears and biases in the kitchen. I've never asked her, but I suspect the cooking she enjoyed most was baking, as is the case with me. (See below for the fears!)

Do you have an old photo as evidence of an early exposure to the culinary world and would you like to share it?
I'm sure there is a picture somewhere of me eating, but I doubt there is a picture of me cooking. I've looked around though, and haven't been able to locate one - sorry!

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
My cooking fears are not about failure - I'm used to that - they're about burning the house down. I'm pretty sure I came by them naturally too (i.e. I inherited them from my Mom). I have never done any deep fat frying and only recently made a feeble attempt at flambéing. I don't think my Mom ever flambéed anything, but I do remember her frying chicken once. She prepared for that occasion by laying down newspaper over half the kitchen floor. Actually, as I think about it, I'd say her fear of deep fat frying had more to do with the potential for a mess than with the potential for a fire.

What would be your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
This may be a little too big to qualify as a gadget, but my Kitchenaid mixer is my most valued tool in the kitchen. I can't think of a really big letdown, but I do remember a little gadget I bought with high hopes and few years back which turned out to be an utter failure. It was sort of like a tiny mandoline for slicing a garlic clove. It wasn't very expensive, so it was no great loss, but it didn't work at all.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else!
Neither of these is something I eat these days, but both were things I relished growing up. (If it weren't for all the bad press fat gets now, I'd be eating them still.) When we would have roast beef, we used to cut a thin crispy layer of fat from the roast while it rested and eat it on saltines or white bread. It was beautifully browned and seasoned with salt and pepper and just scrumptious! We also made onion sandwiches - thin slices of raw onion sandwiched between slices of heavily buttered white bread and seasoned with salt and pepper. Yum!

What are the three eatables or dishes you simply don't want to live without?
Baked Beans
Chocolate
Bread

Any question you missed in this meme, that you would have loved to answer? Well then, feel free to add one!

Three quickies:
Your favorite ice-cream?
Can't list just one: Chocolate, Ben & Jerry's Cherry Garcia, and Butter Pecan

You will probably never eat?
Probably many things, but most certainly Steak tartare

Your own signature dish?
I only have a few recipes that are my very own and I've never served most of them to anyone else. But if signature dish means my own creation, I would have to say my Beans and Greens Soup. If signature dish just means something that I'm known for making, I would say Chocolate Pecan Bars.

Question added by Zarah: On average, how many times a week would you cook something to satisfy your sweet tooth?
Well, I have my regular weekly cookie making session, does that count? Most weeks those are the only sweets I make. Actually, I'm currently trying to clear out some of the things that have accumulated in my freezer like chocolate gingerbread and pumpkin cornmeal muffins, so I have quite a stockpile of sweets to work on!

Question added by Cathy: What do you usually eat for breakfast?
A bowl of cereal with fruit (usually banana, blueberries right now, and as soon as they're in season - peaches!) and skim milk and a glass of orange juice.

And, last but not least:Tag three people!
OK, now it's your turn!
Alice at My Adventures in the Breadbox
Nic at Bakingsheet
Rowena at Rubber Slippers in Italy

7 comments:

sarah said...

LOL! so far, through reading all the entries for this meme, i love reading the "funny/weird combinations" - and your roast beef fat on crackers is hilarious! mostly because i love picking off fat globules from steaks or chicken SKIN and eating it straight - lol!

Clare Eats said...

Hi

If you want some coffee (your in America right??) I think the place to get it from is www.sweetmarias.com
but I have never used them so I cant guarentee anything. If you have any problems when you try roasting coffee leave me a comment on my blog :)

I hope you try it is really, easy and fun and I am drinking the best coffee of my life!

Cathy said...

Hi Sarah - I've fallen behind in my blog-reading, so I haven't read many of these yet. I agree though, that will should be one of the more interesting answers! And in spite of my confessed taste for the crispy fat on roast beef, about chicken fat I'd have to say... ewwwww!!! :)

Hi Clare - thanks for the info! I'm going to have to go back and look Nic's post again as well as yours. I vaguely recall some mention of a hot air corn popper, which I don't have, so I'm not equipped to roast coffee yet - but I'm really interested in trying it!

rowena said...

Waaah! I came here looking for more updates on your Sicily trip and find that I've been tagged...again! Hmm...this one will take some time to do.

Anyway, have a great weekend!

Cathy said...

Hi Rowena - I'm sorry! I sent an email, but I probably should have waited to hear back from you!

I still plan to do more posts on Sicily... soon, I hope.

Zarah Maria said...

Ah, you too with the deep fat frying! And yes, your cookies count! If only I had such an "excuse" to bake... I just do it for myself most of the time, heh!:-)

Cathy said...

Hi Zarah - yes, I'm definitely a scaredy-cat when it comes to the riskier methods of cooking. I'm even afraid to boil the can of sweetened condensed milk like you did!