Monday, August 16, 2010
An Adventure in Cooking
Spouse comes from a culture in which males are not expected to cook, clean or do any domestic chores, at least as far as I can tell. Since marrying me, however, he has learned to clean exceedingly well. I'm happy to relinquish that chore to focus on cooking, laundry, driving, shopping, bill-paying -- well, we all know a woman's work is never done. Many years ago I tried preparing Persian recipes in hopes of pleasing Spouse. Many of these recipes are very healthy and some are even tasty, once you get used to them. I still can't stomach anything with chick pea flour in it. More on that in a moment. I still make koo-koo which are potato pancakes, common to many cuisines. The first time, we made them together, following what Spouse remembered from the way his mother made them. We found a recipe in a cookbook a friend had given us which called for chick pea flour as a thickening agent. The recipe also called for savory ingredients to give the koo-koos some flavor, but Spouse didn't remember his mother making them that way, so we left those out -- big mistake. Mashed potatoes, a dozen eggs and chick pea flour resulted in completely inedible fried lumps. Next time, I more or less followed the way my mother made potato pancakes, adding chopped onion, salt and pepper, NO chick pea flour[!], and only two eggs. I started frying them just before spouse walked in from work. Their fragrance met him in the hallway and he came in with eyes lit up. During the summer I like to make salads rather than cook hot evening meals. Pasta salad with a simple olive oil dressing sounded like a weird idea to Spouse, even though it was packed with many of his favorite veggies. Battling his annoying reluctance to try anything new, I force-fed him a bite. Surprise, surprise, surprise!! He liked it! I've developed many incarnations of this easy dish and have gotten over my shock that he prefers to eat it warmed-up. Go figure . . . Saturday, while grocery shopping, he decided he wanted to make a pasta salad. Cooking for me is another, satisfying, creative outlet, so I try to encourage this behavior in Spouse. When he decided to put his salad together, I decided to let him at it without any input from me. [evil chuckles] I hung close by to turn down boiling pasta before it boiled over and to hand him tools he didn't know he needed until he started floundering. The only pasta he will eat is angel hair, cooked to death. To this, he added a can of chick peas. He also wanted to use sweet onion, so I'd picked up a nice Vidalia. Slicing or dicing wouldn't do it -- he wanted to grate it -- the whole thing. [My eyes started watering just thinking about that.] Keeping a straight face, I suggested he use the food processor for this and left the room. He did a thorough job of crushing the daylights out of that poor onion. When he removed the processor lid, I heard him gasp as the odor hit him in the face. He didn't say anything and I stifled a giggle. Now anyone who does any cooking at all, knows you have to plan ahead and time things so that they come together at the right time and consistency. He'd picked roasted chicken off the bones the day before and frozen it in a bag. He had to bang it on the counter several times before roughly half of the chicken, ample for his salad, broke away from the mass. He plunked it into his work bowl and figured it would thaw by the time the pasta was done. [stifled guffaw]. To the frozen lump of chicken, he added the mangled onion and a little olive oil. To make it look a little more appealing, he added some dried, chopped parsley. After roughly 15 minutes, he decided the angel hair pasta was ready and yelled for me to come hold the colander while he drained it. [the burn from bumping me with the pan is healing nicely] Into the bowl went the mushy pasta and chick peas, steaming on top of the still frozen chicken, etc. Trying to be helpful, I suggested he cover the bowl to let the hot pasta thaw the chicken. He thought that was brilliant, but was soon back to trying to break up the chicken with a spoon. Eventually, he added a little salt and pepper, mixed up the lumpy blobs with a little more olive oil and put them it the frig to chill. He seemed cautiously pleased with the end results. Spouse fondly remembers and brags about eating raw onions warm from his father's garden. I hope he still has a taste for onions, because I don't think he'll be able to taste anything else in his creation . . .