Post #527 “I like that.”

April 1, 2017 at 1:51 PM | Posted in Uncategorized | Comments Off on Post #527 “I like that.”

Anyone who’s read this blog for a while knows that I started my “formal” cooking education when I was around 13 or so.  I told my mom I wanted to learn and she handed me her cookbook (she only had one!) and we went from there.  We had this one hand painted ceramic bowl she had picked up from somewhere, and that’s the bowl I used to make everything from chocolate chip cookies to salads.  It held an entire bag of french fries perfectly.  It was the bowl I used to hand out Halloween candy.  We had other bowls, of course, but this one was large enough for all my cooking projects, and fit into the crook of my arm perfectly so I could hold it tight and use a wooden spoon to beat anything into submission.  This is the bowl.  Looks unremarkable, but it holds a lot of memories.

The story of the 600 cookies started in this bowl.  I was telling that story to a coworker a couple of nights ago during a lull and I remembered another story about this bowl that had both of us in tears by the end of it.

When my nephew was around 4, he would often wander into the kitchen while I was working to see what was going on and hopefully get a taste of whatever goodie was in construction.  He and his little sister knew that when that bowl came out with a wooden spoon, something good was coming soon.

So one afternoon I was creaming butter by hand in preparation for chocolate chip cookies.  My family was addicted to them, and addiction that continues to this day.  I’m actually quite proud of the fact that I learned how to do everything by hand.  Electric motors make it easier and I have all the good gadgets, but once in a while, I do it by hand just because.  So there I was with that bowl held tight in the crook of my left arm and my right arm clutching a large wooden spoon beating the hell out of 3/4 cup of butter to get it to the light creamy stage.

It didn’t take me long and I was ready to incorporate the sugar.  My mom taught me to add each ingredient one at a time to best gauge how the recipe was progressing.  So the brown sugar was in the butter and it was light and frothy.  I had just added the white sugar and commenced beating the butter and sugar when my nephew came into the kitchen.

“Hi Uncle Joe!”  His eyes lit up when he saw that bowl and spoon and me stirring for all I was worth.

“Hi yourself,” I replied.  “How’s things with you?”

“Good.”  He looked longingly at the bowl.  “I like that,” he said.

I was startled.  “It’s just butter and sugar.”

“I know.  I like it.”

“What?  It tastes terrible at this point.”

“No, it doesn’t.  I like that.”

I shrugged.  “Okay, grab a spoon.”

I can be so mean sometimes.

His whole little face lit up like I had just handed him Christmas.  He went to the drawer and picked out the biggest spoon he could find.

“Okay,” I said.  “Dig in.”

He pulled out a fill spoon that must have held about a quarter cup of butter with sugar blended in.  The brown sugar was completely incorporated, but the white sugar had only just been added and was grainy and crunchy.  And he thrust that whole thing in his mouth.

His face changed almost immediately.  I could read his thoughts on his face like a book.  First, he really hated what was in his mouth and didn’t want it there any more.  Second, he knew that if he spit it out, there wasn’t a snowball’s chance of ever getting another taste out of that bowl again.  Third, he was trying to decide if his second thought was worth the agony he was going through.

So I decided to twist that knife just a little.

“Is it good?” I asked with a smile.

His eyes had started to tear up a little, but he nodded and made yummy sounds.  When he’d finished swallowing, I smiled at him.

“It’s good!” he said, but his heart wasn’t in it.

“Want some more?” I held the bowl out to him again.

“No, I’ve had enough,” he said.  “You’ll need it for the cookies.”

It was a long time before he asked me for a taste out of the bowl again.

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At work today, we were holding a donation event and I was selling hot dogs.  I had an electric skillet and used my not-insignificant talents to make them taste great.  I sold a lot of them.  My boss and I were teasing each other as she was leaving and she said, “Next time I expect something gourmet from you!”

So!  The challenge is:  What gourmet food stuff can I make with a single electric skillet that I can sell easily to the masses?

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