Sunday, January 07, 2007

Cooking Calamaties

OK - holidays are over. Everybody back to work.

Err, yeah... the holidays were over a week ago - sorry for the delay. But, for me at least, they were very pleasant. All the family were around, and everyone pretty much behaved themselves. I was also lucky enough to receive a visit from Miss Goofus shortly after Christmas, and we rung in the New Year by doing some First Night things and watching VH1's 100 Greatest Songs from the 80's with friends. Since then, it's been a good deal of football watching, and finding reasons not to post.

But, even though she's made her way back to her native Tennessee, Miss Goofus is still very much here in spirit. In fact, she's the reason for my current dilemma (and subsequent post.) You see, I have her to thank for my rather recent reintroduction (and addiction) to reality television. Up until about a month ago I abhorred the genre, having watched the original season of Survivor before then dismissing everything to follow as copy cat television - even the following seasons of Survivor. And so it went for several years. But, during my last visit to New Orleans, Goof took a break from studying to watch Top Chef on Bravo (think Survivor but with cooking.) I, having nothing better to do, watched with her... and was immediately hooked.

But the show isn't the reason for my problem. The fact that it brought to light my lack of cooking prowess is. I suck at cooking. As I so often tell anyone who bothers to ask, my style consists generally of 1) Pour powder into water and 2) Stir briskly. Wolfgang Puck, I am not. But, as you might remember from last October (when I got all riled up by a cookie recipe I'd seen on Boston.com and then proceeded to try and bake them), the cooking bug got stirred up in me and I decided to start to learn how to cook - or at least make the attempt. I'm a wiz with Trader Joe's prepared foods (which are ASTONISHINGLY good by the way. Much better than your average supermarket TV dinners. Check out their Chicken Chimichangas in the Mexican section. A fantastic quick, cheap meal) but if something other than preheating and shoving the food in is involved, things tend to get messy.

Well, whatever. Messy is the new black, and I will endeavor to learn the basic elements of the craft of cooking. In fact, I've even bought a cookbook (written by one of the Top Chef judges who also happens to be one of the guys from Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. What?!? There are good recipes in there! It's written for beginners! Let's just move on.) Problem is, I'm confused with even some of the most simple tasks. For example, one of the recipes calls for '10 fresh basil leaves, chopped.' Call me crazy, but how the hell do you chop a leaf? By their very thin nature, don't they lend themselves to difficult or impossible chopping? These are the things that bother me, and I'm enough of a perfectionist that it would bug me no end if I didn't have it down. Plus, there's all these other things like dice and slice and seed and grate, etc, etc...

So, I think a cooking class is in order. Thankfully, living in a major metropolitan area, there are options aplenty. However, I think I'm going to go the poor man's route which, as it turns out, is still pretty darned expensive. The Boston Center for Adult Education will teach me 'Basic Kitchen and Knife Skills' in a single three hour session this Tuesday for a whopping $87.00. I'll give you time to let your jaw drop...

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Or if I want to wait until March (MARCH!!!) I can take a 'Cooking Basics' class which consists of two four hour sessions on the weekend for $125.00. That seems much more reasonable. I'll just have to wait for way longer than I want to. Curse them. Curse them all. Don't they now they're supposed to work around my schedule and budget? Still, I think I may just wait. 'Kitchen and Knife Skills' sound great, but I think my mother could teach me those too, and the only thing I'd have to do to repay her are the dishes after Sunday dinner.

In the meantime, I can at least give this cooking thing the old college try. I'll start out with appetizers and breakfast foods... maybe like corn dogs and cereal. Yeah. And, from there I can move on to oatmeal. Maybe some eggs. Who knows? Gimme a cutting board and a maple tree... I'll be chopping leaves in no time. Until then, if any of you have any advice on where to start, I'm all ears (of corn. Ha Ha... um... ha...)

Catch you later this week, groovemeisters.

12 Comments:

Anonymous Eleanor said...

Stop by after work sometime (you are only 5 minutes away) - Anthony and I can tutor you. We only charge $50/session. Also, if you have cable start watching Food TV (channel 66 on comcast). I would start with "How to Boil Water" (Tyler Florence) which is a great cooking show for those who know nothing - unfortunately it is on at 7:30am on Sunday mornings (yes..I am typically up at this ungodly hour). While Tyler puts together amazing yet SIMPLE meals in 30 minutes his blond sidekick asks all the ditsy questions. It is pretty funny. Once you've mastered Tyler Florence you can jump to Rachel Ray (30 Minute Meals) and Alton Brown (Good Eats). Don't be buying too many cookbooks - great recipes can be found at the Food Tv website: www.foodtv.com

GOOD LUCK...and GOOD EATS!

10:03 PM  
Anonymous Eleanor said...

oh...and also... the food tv website has little video clips you can use to learn how to "chop basil" or "julienne" or "chiffonade" or even more basic skills such as mince, dice and brunoise. Go to the COOKING TAB and choose COOKING DEMOS and KNIFE SKILLS.

Have fun! Don't forget to keep you fingers curled under!

10:21 PM  
Blogger Eric said...

Wow! That's my sister right there, folks. Ain't she the best? She knows of what she speaks, too. We went over to her family's place for Thanksgiving and she and her husband cooked an OUTSTANDING meal. Two different types of turkey, all the fixin's - just phenomenal. And at the end, we had THREE different pies, and, well... you should have seen them. The latticework on the apple? Superb. SUPERB, I tell you.

Mother of two, hard working doctor with crazy hours (who rivals House M.D. by the way), a gourmet cook, and she still has time to leave helpful comments almost as long as the posts themselves.

Screw the cooking class. I'm taking her advice - right quick.

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Eric, make sure an get some very good knives. Sharp knives make all the difference! GM's mom

10:49 PM  
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