Sunday, September 12, 2010

Adventures in ... Cooking

Over the weekend, I've been making forays into an activity that might be considered creative - but not until you reach more advanced levels of competence and can actually begin to experiment. That activity is cooking.

I'm enjoying it right now because it's a challenging and an adventure ... and the results taste good, too. It will probably become less of an adventure when I develop more competence with the skill set. To illustrate what I'm talking about: yesterday, I fried something for the first time. I blithely poured the oil in, then realized I needed about a quart. I looked at the label on the bottle, and of course, the servings are in tablespoons. So - oil still on the stove - I fled into the other room to Google and discern how many tablespoons were in a quart (64, for the record). Yes, Google is my cooking companion.

I also enjoy the shopping part of it: trawling the store in search of slightly more unusual ingredient such as dill, crystallized ginger, chocolate wafer cookies (way harder to find than you'd ever imagine), etc. No, neither coconut milk nor condensed milk are kept anywhere near the actual milk. (By the way, if you should ever open a can of coconut milk and there's a jello-ish outer layer, do not under any circumstances turn it upside down and try to scoop it out with a spoon. I lost about an ounce of milk from splash.)

By now, you should be getting the idea that my incompetence is pretty impressive, but I have fun with it. More frustratingly, I'm left-handed. Do you have any idea how many kitchen implements are designed subtly (or not so subtly) with right-handed use in mind?

For amusement, here is my list of recipes to try:

Ron's Tybee Island Sausage Pie (Paula Deen)
Creamy Polenta with Gorgonzola Cheese (Giada de Laurentis)
Fettucine Alfredo (Giada de Laurentis)
Pine Nut Cookies (Giada de Laurentis)
Amaretto and Raspberry Smoothie (Giada de Laurentis)
Garlic and Sun-dried Tomato Corn Muffins (Giada de Laurentis)
Baked Samosas with Mint Chutney (Aarti Sequiera) found here:

As you can see ... uh ... well, I am from Italian roots (my grandfather was Italian / Sicilian) and I love that style of food. I don't know where the love of Indian comes from, because I have not a drop of non-European in me ... maybe it's the English / Welsh influence. Given that England does everyone else's cuisine really well because theirs is nothing to write home about. ;-)

When it comes down to it, I have a deep love of food. For me, taste and smell are very strong elements - even though my own sense thereof is sadly muted (blame allergies). To bring it all back to writing ... I often translate feelings and descriptions into taste and smell almost before I go for sight and hearing. It's something with which I identify very strongly, and getting connected with that in a physical way has been a great experience.

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