Monday, July 21, 2008
Today I am a chef. Well, ok, a cook. My Mom is a chef. I say MY Mom although what I really mean is OUR Mom, as I have 3 siblings. But for the purposes of this post, I am saying MY mom. So, my Mom is a chef.
She didn't train to be a chef, it is just one of those things that came naturally to her. So natural that growing up we all thought that everyone ate the way we did. She could cook a roast beef so tender, juicy and full of flavor that a Culinary Institute of America trained Chef would weep with joy upon tasting it, were he or she so fortunate. And her cakes, cookies, pies, tarts...second to none. She liked to experiment in the kitchen, try new and different ways of cooking or baking. Her Butter Tarts, that uniquely Canadian treat, were coveted and are spoken about with awe.
Our house was always filled with school friends and I always thought they were there because of me or my siblings, but looking back, I expect it was a lot to do with Mom's cooking. She made a point of finding out our friends favorite foods and had them on hand when they were there. No one ever left our house hungry.
I inherited some of her cooking genes. Not all, but some. I love to cook and I love to bake, as I have mentioned. My siblings all have their areas of cooking expertise, as do my son and daughter - great cooks all, although my sister Kate can't make Jello to save her soul. "Big deal" you say. Well it is a big deal if you want to make Mom's famous and delicious Pineapple Lime salad that has Jello as one of it's many ingredients. And no, before you ask, I can't make Jello either.
Back to cooking. Today I am a cook. I am going to make chicken and vegetable kabobs on my Outdoor Gas Convection Oven. I am also going to grill garlic bread as well. I have high expectations. When one has high expectations there is no room for error and the only place to go is down. I can't fail as I have no backup plan. So, kabobs it is. I have the chicken in the freezer, firming up so I can cut it easily. I have mushrooms, little onions, red & green peppers, cauliflower, broccoli, corn-on-cob to cut into chunks, what could possibly go wrong...
I know better than to say things that tempt fate. It comes back to bite you in the Aspidistra every time.
I like to take my time when I cook. For instance, if I know I am cooking kabobs for dinner, I will start getting ready in the morning. I enjoy the motions of gathering the ingredients, selecting and rejecting what to use, the action of chopping vegetables, slicing meat. I plan my day and know what has to be done at what time. A timetable - that is what I adhere to.
Today I knew that at 4pm I could slide the vegetables I chopped earlier onto my metal skewers; that at 4:20pm I could put the chicken I chopped this morning into the marinade for 20 minutes, then onto their skewers. The veggies and chicken would go onto the Outdoor Gas Convection Oven at 4:50pm, the slices of garlic bread at 5pm and the corn on the cob could go in the microwave at 5:10pm. All would be ready when Richard arrived home from work, at 5:15pm.....
Like I said, fate and Aspidistras. At 4pm, the phone rings. It is Richard, and he is on his way home, having gotten off work an hour early. My time table is out the window. Now I am in a rush! He's home and hungry and wants to help. He hovers. I growl and he backs off. We carry things out to the Outdoor Gas Convection Oven and soon have the veggie & chicken skewers on the grill. The brush I have brought out to oil the grill with turns out to have plastic, not natural bristles and melts all over the grills. One set of skewers I chose to use turn out to have rubber or foam or some such thing inside the handles which begins to melt and the handles fall off. I forget all about the slices of garlic bread. Richard is hovering again making hungry bear noises, the chicken is starting to stick and burn on the grill. I make a scrunchy face....
To this day I don't know how Chef Mom did it, how she got all that fabulous food on the table with four of us kids, our friends and Dad underfoot. I spend all day and get bit in the Aspidistra.
Richard really enjoyed his slightly charred, plastic flavored, chicken and undercooked vegetables. I guess he really was hungry.
I says a swear...
...two of them.