Tag Archives: Cooking

Killing it in the Kitchen

“Show me your spatula,” ordered my friend Hildie as she stood in my kitchen with her hands on her hips.

“I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.” I replied.

“Show me your spatula,” she repeated, ignoring me.

“I’m sorry, but I just don’t think I know you well enough to share something so personal,” I responded.

She reached behind my back where I was hiding my spatula.

“THIS IS YOUR SPATULA?” she gasped as she peered at the undersized plastic utensil she had grabbed from me.

“Yeah…”

“Where did you get it? An Easy Bake Oven set?”

I guffawed. “No!” I looked at the sad little excuse for a spatula. “I’m pretty sure it came with a Happy Meal.”

She shook her head at me. “I can see we have a lot of work to do.”

The work in question, was me, in my kitchen, cooking. Or rather, not-cooking, which was my problem. My friend Hildie was there to rescue me from myself, turn me into a world-class cook, or at least make sure I didn’t burn down the house. This is her business… helping moms with little time and few skills become moms who can whip up delicious, nutritious dinners that everyone in the house will eat. She is really, really good at this and has a wait list a mile long for desperate moms, like myself. But she decided to take pity on me and bump me to the top of the list after I undercooked something and gave my family food poisoning.

In my defense, the meat thermometer was broken and the food looked done. Or at least done-ish.

The first thing on her to-do list was a pantry and utensil assessment.

“If you want to be a good cook it helps to have good cooking tools,” she told me.

“I have two hammers, a wrench and a screwdriver,” I informed her.

“Not the right kind of tools,” she assured me.

We quickly discovered that, in addition to my sorry excuse for a spatula, I also had the wrong kind of whisk, lousy knives, and a twenty-year old blender that I also used as a juicer, a food processor, and a Play-doh mixer.

“You made PLAY-DOH in here?” she asked incredulously.

“No! Not made. Mixed. We only had blue and yellow and we needed some green, so we mixed it together in the blender. But that was at least 10 years ago so I’m sure it’s all cleaned out by now.”

She sighed. “Buy New Blender!” she said, adding it to my master kitchen purchasing list.

Next she opened my pantry and jumped back in fear.

“When was the last time you bought new spices?” she asked, holding up an ancient jar of cayenne pepper.

“What was the year that ‘Rock the Casbah’ was popular?” I asked. “I think I was listening to that on my walkman when I went shopping for spices.”

“Buy New Spices!” she said, adding it to my growing kitchen purchasing list.

She peered into the pantry again. “… And balsamic vinegar, extra virgin olive oil and chicken stock,” she continued, looking at the expiration dates on those bottles, wincing, and throwing them in the trash.

“Good news, though!” she said to me dryly. “You have plenty of macaroni and cheese.” She pulled out four cartons of mac and cheese from the pantry. “Were you expecting an instant mac and cheese-loving crowd to drop in unexpectedly?

“Hey, that stuff is great,” I said proudly. “It doesn’t expire until 2045!”

“Yeah… I’m not sure I would want to eat any food that could outlive me,” she said.

Once we established that I had nothing in the house that was edible and nothing to prepare my non-edible food with, we rolled up our sleeves and got started cooking.

Fortunately, I had filled out a pre-questionaire so, knowing that I had some deficits in certain areas, Hildie had brought some supplies of her own.

“You take this simple grilled chicken and you add pesto and fresh mozerella and it is just YUM!!” she declared.

“Ooh. Ooh! I have some pesto mix in my pantry!” I shouted gleefully.

“Mix?” she said in horror. “No mix! We’re going to make it fresh!”

“I don’t have to raise my own chickens, do I?” I wondered.

“No.”

“OK. Just checking.”

We pounded chickens, seasoned them, made up a batch of fresh pesto, sautéed some portobello mushrooms, layered it all up and added the mozerella on top.

By the time we were done I could make shrimp oreganata, chicken quesadillas, chicken pesto paninis, and turkey bbq meatloaf. I learned the difference between virgin olive oil and extra virgin olive oil (which shockingly, has nothing to do with virgins). I was instructed how to crush dried herbs in my palm to release the flavor, and scores of other cooking secrets that only Hildie and Wolfgang Puck knew. In three hours, I had become a cook.

And I didn’t even burn the house down.

But I did singe the dog’s tail a little.

 

©2017, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

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No Loafing Around

MeatloafWithSauce copyHaving been a mom for twenty years, I’ve figured out how to cook enough basic meals to keep my family alive.

However, since I only have about a half dozen dishes that I’ve perfected, it was just a matter of time before my family got completely sick of my cooking. Even the dog was sick of the scraps that fell on the floor. This coming from an animal that eats dirt.

Worried that I might start to get a reputation as a boring cook and be ostracized by the mommy cooking community and my dog, I decided to take the plunge into new cooking terrain and try a recipe from the Internet. I figured, if I can follow directions, why can’t I make a soufflé like Julia Childs or a pork schnitzel like Wolfgang Puck? Of course since I’m NOT Julia Childs or Wolfgang Puck, there was always the possibility that I would set fire to the soufflé, burn down the kitchen, and end up having to order in a pizza instead. So, not wanting to bite off more than I could chew, I decided to go with something basic: a meatloaf.

Being a mom, I am no stranger to meatloaf. But I thought maybe there was a recipe for a tastier meatloaf I could make to shake things up. Then, if the meatloaf was a success, I could move on to something even more complex like lasagna! Just thinking about it, I got giddy with imagined cooking superpowers. Word would spread of my amazing culinary skills. Soon even Rachael Ray would sing my praises.

Today the meatloaf, tomorrow the world!

After scouring the Internet, I found a recipe for Roasted Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze from Bobby Flay. Now, Bobby Flay is no hack and definitely knows his way around a grill, whereas I am most comfortable around a toaster oven. However, after reading the recipe, I was confident I could replicate his meatloaf. With recipe in hand, I set off for the supermarket and bought all the ingredients for what was sure to be the mother of all meatloaves.

4c8e0e9584d851a8a2ce7c42fe2bf7cdI came home and started cooking. The air was soon filled with the glorious smell of sautéed onions, garlic and vegetables. I kneaded the meat and added the mixture along with eggs, herbs and breadcrumbs. Then I lined the pan with parchment, folded in the meatloaf, and with a flourish of my hand, popped it into the oven to cook while I made the balsamic glaze.

An hour later I set the table and called the family to dinner. But when I took the meatloaf out, it wasn’t done. I popped it back in for another 15 minutes, but it still wasn’t done. With my family clamoring to be fed, I decided to take my masterpiece out of the oven and finish it in the microwave.

As I boasted to my husband about how amazing this meatloaf was going to be, I suddenly heard a loud pop come from the microwave.

I cautiously eased over to the microwave and opened the door.

My meatloaf was no longer meatloaf.

It was meat mush.

Without skipping a beat, I put up a pot of water to boil. Moments later my husband left the dining room and came into the kitchen.

“Where’s the meatloaf, honey?” he inquired.

“Change of plans,” I replied. “We’re having spaghetti and meat sauce instead

 

©2016, Beckerman. All rights reserved.

bookbutton-04“Lost in Suburbia: A Momoir. How I Got Pregnant. Lost Myself, and Got My Cool Back in the New Jersey Suburbs” makes a great gift!! To get a copy for you or a cool mom you love, CLICK HERE

To become a fan of Lost in Suburbia on Facebook, Visit me here
To follow me on Twitter, visit me here

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