Saturday, January 3, 2009

Cooking, Eating, and Other Culinary Delights

I started thinking about cooking, eating, and other culinary delights after reading Linda's post this morning about teaching her son to cook.

I don't remember which of my kids made this observation about a year ago, "Is our family kinda weird or what? We are either eating, talking about what we ate, or discussing what we shall eat at the next meal. Are we a bit obsessed with food?"

I feel I should point out, my kids are better cooks than me. This is not to say I'm a terrible cook, I do okay. But they are EXCELLENT cooks. They are inventive, adventurous...and they have the knack.

I have always believed that people are born with various gifts. Things they find easy to do without a lot of effort and training. For some it's cooking. Or sewing. Or gardening, decorating, keeping accounts, fixing things... You get the idea.

The rest of us can LEARN these things, but they do not come naturally.

Cooking is one of those things I learned. There were meals early in my marriage that were literally un-edible. The first time I used wine in a sauce and it curdled but I didn't know that's what had happened so I served it anyway. Yuck! Or when I put a whole bag of rice into a medium size pan with only a fraction of the water needed. Stinky mess!

But over time I have learned enough to follow a recipe and even on occasion, change it a little.

My kids learned from my mistakes. After all they were right there when I made some doozies. Both the son and daughter enjoyed hanging out in the kitchen. The son was always interested in the science of cooking. The daughter would sit on the counter and demand to stir something, or pat it into a pan, or whatever needed done. From the time she was two-years-old she was my #1 kitchen helper.

We have been reaping the benefits the last few years whenever the kids would cook for us. It's not unusual now for the son to call up and tell me what he and the wife making for dinner and how they're going about it.

And it's not unusual to spend a good amount of time talking about food with my daughter as well. So when she tells me about a date? 90% of the conversation isn't about the guy but about the food they ate. LOL She's working her way through college by serving at a really nice, upscale restaurant where she can't afford to eat very often. She gets 50% off at the end of her shift, but 50% off a $40 entree is still $20. Sometimes she gets an appetizer, soup or sushi roll. But she LOVES working there, and frequently tells me about the special of the week or something new they've added to the menu.

Um...yeah. I know for a lot of people, food is merely something that must be ingested to sustain life. I find that very sad. We derive great enjoyment from our food! We read books about food. Garlic & Sapphires: The Secret Life of a Critic in Disguise was very good! So was Julie and Julia : 365 Days, 524 Recipes, 1 Tiny Apartment Kitchen. The hubby and I listened to Farewell, My Subaru: An Epic Adventure in Local Living which we'd downloaded from (and now I have Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life on my iPod). I also like to listen to podcasts of The Splendid Table, and watch videos on The Food Network website. I subscribe to the weekly e-Newsletter from America's Test Kitchen and was quite happy this morning to see they have a slimmed down version of fettucine alfredo, one of my favorite comfort foods. [Go to their website, scroll down a little bit and the sign-up for the free e-Newsletter is on the left of the screen. You're welcome.]

So yeah, I guess you could say we're a bit obsessed with food.

Anyway, is it any wonder I participate in every recipe exchange I find in B'ville? ☺ With the holidays behind us, Carol is once again hosting Saturday Stirrings. So when you're done here, be sure to go there and see what else is being shared. Yum!

Today I give you my Peach Cobbler recipe. Seeing as how we are drowning in peaches at the moment. Not a bad way to drown, eh?


2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 lbs. fresh peaches, peeled and cut into chunks or slices
1/2 cup sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (or 2 tablespoons flour)
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
pinch of salt

For the crust:
1/4 cup solid vegetable shortening
3 tablespoons sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon double-acting baking powder
pinch of salt
2 tablespoons milk

Vanilla ice cream

Preheat oven to 375°. Lightly butter 9 inch pie plate or baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter.
In a bowl, combine prepared fruit, sugar, cornstarch, lemon juice, cinnamon and salt, stirring to mix well.
Turn fruit into prepared baking dish. Dot with remaining tablespoon of butter.
To make the crust, beat shortening and sugar together. Add egg and vanilla and beat until light. Stir in flour, baking powder and salt and add alternately with milk, mixing until dough forms.
Drop spoonfuls of dough over the fruit filling, covering as much surface as you can.
Bake on middle rack of oven until crust is browned and filling is bubbly, about 45 minutes.
Serve slightly warm with vanilla ice cream.

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