Tuesday, May 06, 2008

i bake, therefore i am

The lovely Housewife came up with a good way to post every day in May (a goal that we share) and so I offered to help her come up with list ideas if she let me copy her. She graciously obliged. So, just in case I don’t get around to blogging about actual events (you know, fascinating things like our garden, the bird nest in our front door wreath, my brother coming to visit, a great Saturday, and the current status of my chin boil) you’ll know I’m alive and thinking.

Ten foods that I love to cook

I tried to explain why I like to cook each of these (as opposed to just eat them) and I hope I have made the distinction clear. I’ll sum it up for you, though: I like to cook things that are fast and easy. And sweet. Strange, I know.

1. Cookies. All kinds, really, but my personal favorites are pumpkin chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, and gingerspice. I'm not sure what it is about cookies that I love so much, but I think it might be the combination of bit-size, condensed flavor, and the fact that they are hard to mess up. I like to cook them because once I have the base down I can really make them to suit my taste with mix-ins. I also like getting my hands in the dough. Oh! And I especially like putting them on the cookie sheet in perfectly even balls so that they make cookies that are all perfectly shaped. Call me anal, but I love it.

2. BBQ ribs. I didn't discover that I loved cooking these until recently. Like, when I moved to Kansas City and tried to make them. Zoo Peters tried my recipe recently and had, well, the same humorous results that I did the first time I tried it. Regardless of the fun of the first-time experience, this recipe always turns out well, and although it takes a long while to cook it involves very minimal work. I like feeling like I am a real chef who can produce mouth-watering food, and, seriously, this recipe is that good.

3. Tapioca pudding. This is definitely turning in to a list of the foods I like to eat, but, hey, isn't the joy eating something the main reason we love to cook anything? Anyway, I have loved tapioca pudding since birth, I think. It's possible since before. No one else in my family particularly enjoys it, which makes it really nice because then when I make it I get to eat the whole batch. I used to only make the stove-top recipe, but then I went to college and got all lazy and learned to love the microwave version, which condenses a 45-minute recipe into, like, 10 minutes. Sweet.

4. Rice. I know this is kind of a weird one, but I really like cooking rice. I'm pretty sure that I didn't learn how to cook rice until, well, I think I had already graduated from college. (That probably says something about how frequently I ate rice during college.) But then I was introduced to a fabulous recipe called "Rice Underneath" and my love of all things rice began. Marriage to a handsome Asian didn't do anything to quell my love of cooking rice. And then. Then! I was introduced to a rice cooker. Heavens, how easy it is to cook rice now. Although it kind of takes a little of the fun/guesswork out of things, and perhaps one of the reasons I like cooking rice is believing that I am an above-average rice cooker.

5. Meatloaf. Again, I believe my recipe is better than most. I love meatloaf. Obviously, you can't eat it every day (wait, can you?) but every once in a while nothing sounds more appealing than a chunk of seasoned, cooked beef on my plate. Also, this is another food that is extremely easy to put together. Has anyone ever tried meatloaf sandwiches? With the right kind of bread (a thick, kind of touch roll is great) this is a phenomenal sandwich. I know that Housewife is throwing up a little in her mouth at the thought of putting her hands in raw ground beef and shaping it into a loaf, but I don’t mind getting a little dirty.

6. Eggs. Soft-boiled. Over-easy. Scrambled. You name it, I enjoy cooking an egg that way. I love eggs, and I love that they are so versatile. Is there another food that can take so many forms and be included in so many recipes? Just last month Somebody made the most excellent chicken salad sandwich, and when I asked what his secret ingredient was, he said that he had mixed in some scrambled egg. Well, there you have it.

7. Scones. Not too long ago, when someone asked me what I thought of when I heard the word “scone,” I responded that I thought of the fried bread ala Utah’s Sconecutters. Not any more. Now I think of the dense biscuit ala England. And Kathleen’s fantastic recipe. You should try them. I always use chopped up dried apricots, dried cherries, and chocolate chips as my fillings. And I put in way more fillings than the recipe calls for. I like to eat these, sure, but I like to bake them because my mom loves them and I love how excited she gets when she sees me making them.

8. Grilled Veggies. I’m not sure these should really count, but just because it’s cooked on the grill shouldn’t disqualify it. I discovered my love for grilled vegetables last summer when we cooked dinner on the grill at least once a week. Veggies (cut up zucchini, asparagus, corn on the cob, sweet potato, tomato) all taste divine with just a little olive oil and salt and pepper, But, if you need more spice, I recommend this spice blend:

1 Tbsp Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 tsp oregano
1/8 tsp onion salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/8 tsp chili powder
I love to cook veggies on the grill because it reminds me of summer, friends, gardens, and it makes me feel healthier than cookies do.

9. Toast. Cooked bread. This is the epitome of fast, easy cooking. I think I have a piece of toast just about every day. When I’m sick I have multiple pieces of toast. Just tonight I had a piece of toast when I needed an evening snack. I love it because it is basically an empty palette for whatever flavor I want to put on it and it allows me to satisfy a variety of cravings.

10. Breakfast. I do realize that this is a category and not a food, and that I’ve already listed eggs and toast. But I love cooking breakfast because no matter what time of day I’m making it, it feels like a luxurious, lazy Saturday. Cooking breakfast smells good, and there are so many options that I can be creative (like with the pancake mix-ins, or the waffle toppings, or the omelet fillings) and still know I’ll like the end result.
One of my favorites--Gingerbread Pancakes
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp ginger
1/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 egg
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
1/4 cup molasses
3 Tbsp vegetable oil
Mix dry ingredients in bowl. Mix wet ingredients in blender. Add wet to dry, mix, and cook on hot griddle, turning once. Eat. Die and go to heaven.


housewife said...

MMMMM, it's making my mouth water. Can I come visit and eat your grilled veggies?? And of course meat loaf prepared by you so I don't have to get my hands dirty (you're right, the thought makes me throw up in my mouth a little, hence when I make meatloaf, I use veggie crumbles.)

Janssen said...

I have so many things to say to this post.

First, when you mentioned being married to a handsome Asian, it made me laugh because just today I was thinking how jealous I am that you'll have half-Asian children. Let's be honest- they're just cuter.

Also, when I make meatloaf, I stir it with a spoon. And then I spread it in the pan with a spoon. Because put my lovely hands in there? Wrong.

And I'm definitely making those pancakes this weekend. YUM!

Madelyn said...

yet another reason I need to purchase molasses....mmmmmmmm