Thank goodness for weekends when I can reflect on the weeks food creations and begin my search for more interesting treats to come.
This past week began Le Tour De France* bicycle race that forced us to upgrade our cable service and ride impressive French roads with those hearty fellows. Six to seven thousand calories of food intake per day keep those lean muscular bodies pumping! Noting all this chewing while riding race bicycles to keep those bodies strong made me think about our stamina to do our work in this South Georgia summer heat.
The TV, Le Tour and I teamed up to race to bring out the simplest of my freezer’s stash of experimental no-cook or little cook foods from my favorite supermarket. So far Bertolli’s “Shrimp Scampi & Linguine with shrimp, roasted peppers in garlic sauce”* has won my approval. Le Tour’s pasta requirement spoke loud and clear, and linguine answered. This Skillet Meal isn’t an inexpensive buy for two portions, but it’s not a night out in a fancy French restaurant either. If I make it up again in I’ll spring for some additional shrimp or chicken to add as there is enough of the creamy garlic sauce to enjoy more.
During Le Tour de France nightly coverage, I’ve been looking through my cookbook collection for inspiration, as I need to format my memoir/cookbook in production. Discovering that I have enjoyed reading every cookbook I’ve ever owned I realized I’ve purchased big ones, little ones, simple ones and complex ones; ones with beautiful photos and ones typed on vintage machines, and I love them all like children. I have caressed them and fondled them and post-it noted them in my cover to cover reading style before I headed into my kitchen to cook anything from them. I have done this for years…yes, my family knows what to buy for Mom!
The difficulty here in my new/old house is that I haven’t got a real kitchen! The good news about this dilemma however, is that I get an excuse to experiment. In my family of cooks, we believe two things;
1. That life is uncertain, so eat desert first.
2. That the essence of life is how well one adapts to Plan B.
My tiny two square feet of cooking space with my kitchen gadget appliances are definitely a Plan B. kitchen, so I must be resourceful in new ways. I read about food rather than prepare it; I write about food rather than cook it; and I research about food rather than eat it; I still love to purchase food so I’m considering selling some of my cookbooks, so I can buy it!
As I scroll down the vastness of internet cookbook entries, I realize how many of these books are longtime friends with great worth to me, no matter what their EBay Buy-it-now value states. I consider their size, their thickness and age. Do they have spiral bindings or are they bound and sewn textbook style? Then I question the book’s ability to lay flat or fold back while I cook? Are there shiny pages to wipe off smudges…or do I mind the dull, thick and absorbent pages smeared with the remnants of feasts gone by?
Which ones are the dearest of my Go-To-Guys when a no-fail recipe is needed in a hurry? And I wonder why I love them so, and why so many, when I reach for my favorite recipe cards anyway? The cards hold the handwriting of the precious giver and I get to recall great memories… mixed, baked, boiled or broiled in every one. I question the gift of good cook’s recipes in these cookbooks; the words surrounding and comforting me while giving me courage to try it their way. Why does that help feed my confidence in my kitchen? Will my words and recipes help others gain confidence while cooking too?
Will the limitless Internet take over, providing instant access to unimaginable food combinations yet give the intimacy of a mother-in law teaching a young bride...when I learned my husband adored baked custard and Squash Pie? I wonder too if my tried and true Best of the Best, will teach about making do when hard times happen, when resourcefulness takes priority over cash and the advice and guidance handed down from others provides a no-fail solution in dire situations? Times where experimentation using the only the freshest, ripest, and prettiest are out of the equation-out of one’s budget? Things happen and making do is the only solution; too much garden produce ripening too fast; kids birthdays come when the mortgage payment is due, the refrigerator dying in a heat wave and unfortunate events. My solution is to reach for answers in recipe books. That’s why it's called “Comfort Food.”
My husband wanted some comfort food last week…
”Real Pancakes” he told me,
“the good ones…homemade not that mix kind.”
He was referring to the store brand baking mix that I’d substituted a while ago to appease his retaliation to the “Wheat-Free”and “Gluten-Free” products I’d been testing. He wanted me to revisit my good Convertible Cooking new friend, Pamela’s Products*, “Baking and Pancake Mix”, Wheat-Free and Gluten-Free in an easy to pour and measure pouch. I could hardly believe it…yet I was thrilled. Pamela’s pancake decadence fit my meager griddle requirements, helped me use up some failing blueberries and I added some just ripened strawberries to make a wonderful Sunday morning treat. With warm butter and real Maple Syrup from Sam’s Wholesale,* they were impressive.
Pamela’s mix requires only 1 egg per cup and 1 Tbs. of oil plus water; no dairy needed so it’s easy on the larder resources, but I would have given the king’s gold for a big dollop of whipped cream to make them incredible. Maybe another time perhaps, but I’d bet I could feed a whole Peloton of hungry Le Tour de France cyclists with one small 24 ounce bag!
Now that we’ve taken our bike ride around the neighborhood, I’ve moved onto my computer and printed out a recipe for Caribbean Coconut Chicken that I’m about to throw into my handy Rival Crock Pot* for dinner. No cookbook involved and coming off my printer puts added mystery to it, except for all this recipes thumbs-ups recommendations on Google. Magic did happen when this person punches in “chicken, red peppers, and coconut milk”…but its thin copy paper lacks the stiff feel of an index card or the heft of a cookbook in my hands…the search is curious with this new kitchen tool.
But like my husbands pancakes, perhaps this new recipe might become a family favorite now that we feel better appreciating my Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free attempts. So stay tuned for a report on my chicken dish, try something different this week like a Bertolli’s* Complete Skillet Meal or mix up my tried and true Pamela’s Products** pancakes or waffles with some aging fruit, so your family can tell you they liked the new/old stuff in the future…it will make you proud to think you’ve made some history. Maybe a new race bike or cookbook is in your future too.
www.le Tour de France, www.villabertolli.com. www.pamelasproducts.com www.samsclub.com, www.rivalcrockpot.com
Carol Dumas Copyright July 10, 2011