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Food & Drink / The Gestalt of Cooking


Subject:  Re: What's cookin'? Date:  6/5/2001  1:29 PM
Author:  Kilbia Number:  302 of 21260

What kind of cookware do you use? Do you have any hints, techniques, or suggestions for using it effectively?

I don't know. In fact, to be honest, I think I only have one piece that I bought myself (a blue ceramic-plated pot from the local Army-Navy store). Everything else was either Aaron's when he left for college, a hand-me-down from friends and relatives, or a gift/re-gift. (Got some really great non-stick bakeware as a re-gift. SIL's boyfriend's parents had bought it for Grandma, but she's quite happy with what she has and doesn't have anywhere to put new stuff, so when she caught me looking at it, she foisted it off on me. =)

What's your favorite spice? Your least favorite? Why?

Favorite: Garlic. I only know of one savory dish that didn't benefit from a little garlic (Mom's Saucy Beans recipe), and that's because I enjoy the memories attached to the dish as much as I enjoy the dish itself, so I've got to make sure it's replicated perfectly. =)

Least favorite: Salt & pepper. I cook with a little black pepper, but never any salt unless I'm baking. I suppose it's because I grew up seeing those on the table to be added after the fact, and now I see it as kind of an insult to the cooking to overseason it like that.

What are your favorite type of things to cook?

Things that are quick to make, or can be made ahead.

Do you specialize in any ethnic cuisines? What appeals to you about them?

I don't *specialize* in them per se, but I enjoy Mexican and I have a really nice recipe for a taco chicken rice casserole, so I make that quite a bit. I enjoy the tomato-spice flavor of Mexican.

How do you handle leftovers? Serve them again as-is? Disguise them so your S.O. won't recognize them?

My favorite way of handling them is making sure we never have any. But I will occasionally make large batches of food and simply eat them for lunches and dinners the following day. Aaron doesn't mind this at all. And I'll bet any children we have will end up not minding, unless leftovers end up being something they didn't like the first time either. ;)

What do you see as the biggest challenge in your cooking?

Actually trying some of the gazillion recipes I've been collecting over the past year. Unless I actually sit down and say "Okay, I'm gonna try this one this week", I'll blank out when writing a grocery list or going shopping and just buy for dishes I already have memorized.

That, and getting horribly horribly frustrated with myself when a dish doesn't turn out. I think Aaron has figured out that it only needs to not turn out the way I expected it to, and that a "really, honey, it's okay" does absolutely nothing to improve my mood. Well, that and the fact that he used to eat Easy Cheese on graham crackers doesn't do a whole lot for his credibility as a food critic. ;)

Do you cook or bake, or both?

Both, but my baking is pretty much limited to cookies and things made from mixes (or popped out of a cardboard can). I will make cranberry orange walnut bread every year at Christmas, though, and once I find my recipe for chocolate chip pumpkin muffins, I will start making those again.

Do you use recipes? Only as guides? Need absolute measurements (you probably won't like this board so well)? Just make it up as you go along?

I absolutely have to have a recipe the first time I try anything. I have had some really awful failures arise from just throwing stuff together. After I have a rough idea of how to prepare whatever it is I'm making, then I don't mind tweaking a bit.

And I don't think I'll ever again be able to try and make a lasagna without boiling the noodles first. Failure #1 was a white lasagna, which had nowhere near enough liquid to penetrate the noodle and make it pliable during baking, and failure #2 sat in the fridge too long before baking and the noodles turned to sludge. #2 was an even more heartbreaking failure for me, because I was just certain that it'd be fine now that I'd learned from failure #1. Sigh.

- Kilbia
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