At any given time I can think of at least
9,000 things I'd rather be doing than cooking - that's under normal weather
conditions. Total brain fry occurs concerning meal preparation past 90
degrees. Forget trying to plan anything. The best I can do is cruise the
refrigerated sections hoping to see something that looks good. The tactic
works pretty well, think of all the amnesia victims who recover after
seeing a face from the past.
Fortunately most fruits and quite a few vegetables are best left in their
natural state. Serve with cheese, cold cuts and bakery bread. Several years
ago a summer edition of Cosmo featured a lovely spread of sliced tomatoes,
mozzarella and some kind of meat all neatly arranged on a platter decorated
with basil leaves and drizzled with olive oil. I could handle that - minus
the anchovies and capers.
The plan was to substitute bacon bits and black olives - recipe tampering
is vital to the sporting sense on this type of safari. In any case, knowing
full well my production would never win a glossy award, I was comforted by
Erma Bombeck's comments that if she should ever remarry she would hire a
food photographer for the album. She also said she considered cookbooks
some of the greatest fiction ever written. Bless you Erma.
Try not to let the joy spreaders get you down. Advice about cooking in the
morning and freezing in portions to breeze through summer is, of course,
quite logical. It's just not going to happen. If the culinarily inept were
capable of applying logic in the kitchen, we wouldn't be culinarily inept.
More confessions: I am a hint and gadget junkie. I can't help myself and
the worst part is I'll try anything once. Countless hours have been spent.
It's the challenge and it's not an entirely unproductive addiction. Good
tips are hidden in the strangest places. Remember that nauseating show
"Family Affair" circa 300 years ago? "Buffy's Cookbook" found at a garage
sale yielded "use wax paper like a glove" to press sticky or hot suff into
Apply to Sin in a Pan which is sort of a cross between a cookie and
a candy bar and more trouble than I usually go to, but every over-priced
calorie is well worth the buzz: Put one half cup of Karo corn syrup (light
or dark) into a measuring cup and spoon in light or dark brown sugar until
the Karo gets to the one cup mark. Heat just to a boil in a large sauce
pan. Take the pan off the burner and stir in one cup crunchy peanut butter.
Then add three cups Special K cereal and mix until coated. Dump into one
large or two small cake pans; do the wax paper press thing.
Next, melt one 6 oz. package each of semi-sweet chocolate and butterscotch
bits together over very low heat. You could do that over over a double
boiler if you ever heard of such a thing but it's not necessary. Spread on
top of the the other stuff.
Store in the fridge to set. Squares will be easier to cut at room temp. Be
warned, similar recipes exist, this is the only true way to nirvana. The
weird thing is I've never come across that exact set of ingredients
published - it's a hand-me-down.
The culinarily inept are inclined to shopping impairment. I hate the
grocery store - gave up all hope of ever getting the coupon act together a
long time ago. The best I can do is go with the generics and store brands
whenever possible. With a few exceptions the quality is all the same
because it's all the same stuff wearing different labels. On the other
hand, name brands are not usually interchangeable when it comes to things
like steak sauces that have their own distinct flavoring.
Unfortunately, you still have to compare prices. The powers that be know
exactly what they are doing and are absolutely remorseless. They'll sneak
up and put the names brands on sale, if you had a coupon some things would
be almost free. I am resigned to my peasant status, the coupon crown is
just not me.
If you know people who get their jollies practicing the fine art of
clipping, sorting, planning ahead and making lists - save proofs of
purchase, all the stuff that comes in the mail and newspaper flyers for
them. Trade negotiations have gotten me everything from home-baked goodies
to a nifty little travel set.
Come back soon, more's on the way.
Comments, suggestions, your confessions ...