Tuesday, April 27, 2010

A Culinary Legacy

In the Kitchen with My Daughter

Now that I’m older I have the smug satisfaction of knowing my children know that there are things I know that they want to know too. We have become a very knowledgeable family. My son, now a parent himself, is starting to understand why my behavior was so peculiar during his childhood. It takes a four year old to understand how little control one has over one’s world. My daughter, who is a Certified Pediatric Nurse Practioner with a degree in adolescent behavior, has no children and still believes that she has grown into a beautiful accomplished professional woman by happenstance.

However, they both agree that Dad can cook. Their mother, who works part time at a health food store, has developed a penchant for trendy eating and is a reliable source on the latest disease fighting milkshake, but it is their father who is sought out to advise on holiday dinners or a meal requiring the comfort food of their childhood. Just look at us, my wife is six foot tall, effortlessly thin and beautiful in the fashion of Audrey Hepburn or Lauren Bacall. I, on the other hand, am 5’8” and have aged like Elizabeth Taylor. Nonetheless, Liz and I know how to eat well. I decided to use the blog format to organize and record my recipes for the simple reason that Google now provides a nifty service called blog2print which will take your blog and print you up a slick bound copy for posterity. After all, I am from the South where vanity publishers have indulged would be Faulkners, Williams, & Capotes for several generations.

Making Cookies with My Son & Granddaughter

That’s the answer to “Why do this blog”. Before we start it will be helpful if you understand my approach to food.
  • I am no fanatical purist. If I find a shortcut that is acceptable or a product that is amazing, I will use them. I will never try to bake my own croissants. While I am a paranoid foodie that truly believes that boxed meals are a conspiracy, I do find Bisquick to be an amazing product.
  • I prize freshness above everything, excepting safety. I have come to appreciate the fact that fish and chicken frozen at point of origin is probably a whole lot better tasting than items trucked thousands of mile and is certainly a whole lot safer. I accept the concept of organic in theory, but am skeptical of it in practice. Find your local sources for fresh produce, dairy, fish, & poultry and cherish them. However, unless you grow it or raise it yourself, don’t trust it. Here in the Mid-South, our culinary experience would be pretty limited if we relied solely on our local markets.
  • Fat is good. Fat is taste. There is no acceptable substitute. Don’t bother using skim milk in place of cream or replace butter with chicken stock. If that type of thing interests you, just open a can and head for the microwave. I subscribe to the theory that it better to cut down the size of the portion, than the flavor of the dish.
  • Use the highest quality ingredients you can find. Because I have to ration calories, I don’t want to waste one. I’m not going to waste my daily allowance on a MacDonald’s Third Pounder when I can have Steak Au Poivre. (It only costs a little bit more). Cheese comes in wheels, wedges, and chunks. If it’s powder in a can, It’s not cheese. There is no substitute for fresh lemon or lime juice.
  • All great food is comfort food. Before you get the idea that I am a food snob, know that I am a food fan. While, I have consumed my share of caviar, truffles, & saffron enhanced dishes, I will include none of those here. While I love the exotic, most of the ethnic food I’ve included were the comfort foods of those who shared their family recipes with me.
  • My taste may not be yours. I have a fortunate eclectic food experience. Twenty five years in New York, San Francisco, & Washington DC coupled with a career working with multiple nationalities has afforded me a rich culinary experience. However, I have my quirks. I love ceviche, but prefer my fish more done than many chefs. If you can add spirits to my food, I will like it more. This collection is primarily for my children. Feel free to use what you like and discard what isn’t to your taste.
  • Finally, a couple of things to make the lawyers happy. All cooks are plagiarists. I will happily credit all my recipes where the source is apparent. Feel free to point out similarities when you find them. I’ve already mentioned I greatly value food safety. However, there are two specific issues and a general disclaimer. I do use raw eggs in some of my recipes. If that’s a concern feel free to substitute a pasteurized egg product. I also tend to not overcook pork tenderloin. I believe I am far more likely to die choking on a dry piece of pork than I am from an infestation of Trichinella Spiralis, the roundworm, generally extinct in the US porcine population these past 30 years. Once again, you fans of all things organic, know your sources. In general, while I have never killed a relative with an undercooked Thanksgiving turkey, or any other dish described herein, know that any of you who attempt one of my recipes, you do so at your own risk.

1 comment:

  1. Cool post old man. This is a blog I may actually have to read, or...*gasp*...even follow.