Saturday, January 15, 2011

What's Cooking?

I have always loved to cook and, goodness know, I have done plenty of it.  But I do not consider myself a good cook.  I can follow a recipe and I think I have a little knack for putting together a menu, foods that complement each other and taste good together.  But that creativity that makes a good cook is beyond me.  I am a slave to the printed recipe.  If it calls for 3/4 tablespoon, I would never dare throw in a whole tablespoon!  Even the old standbys that I have made for years never get altered in my kitchen.  I am filled with awe and admiration as I watch other cooks experiment and sample and adjust. 

When we were living in Montreal,  the accountant for the company was a little Englishman who was married to a Spanish woman from Bilbao who spoke hardly a word of English. As far as I know, he did not speak Spanish, either, but they seemed to manage OK.  One day we dropped in on them not long before lunch and they insisted we stay and eat with them.  Magically, Pilar expanded their meal to feed two more adults and three kids.  Like the loaves and fishes.  It was ample and delicious and she accomplished it with no fuss, but plenty of ingenuity.  If it had happened to me, I would have been calling out for KFC while applying cold compresses to my head.  One of my cousins turned up unexpectedly for lunch a couple of years ago due to some crossed signals and it was with only the greatest of effort that I was able to rustle up a bowl of canned tomato soup and a grilled cheese sandwich.  He hasn't been back.

At (almost) 91, I am still clipping recipes from the household magazines and trying them out on my family who comes for dinner once a week.  (Down from twice a week a year ago, but who's counting?)  Some turn out OK, some are a hit and some are a bust.  Maybe the ones that are not great could be saved it I could just bring myself to say "What the hell?" and toss in that whole tablespoon.  I'll never know.

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