Thursday 29 Sep 2016

What's Cooking
Jennifer Flaten

There is something about me; something that I like to do that may surprise you. It is a little hard to admit, because it is a little old fashioned.

All right, I will just come out and say it-I love cooking.

Whew, that feels good to admit. Here's the deal though, while I love cooking, I don't love super fancy gourmet cooking. I like cooking normal foods like, casseroles, soups and one-dish meals. Therefore, when I say I love cooking I mean I love cooking anything cheap and easy, definitely not anything fancy or elaborate.

To feed my little habit, I frequently check cookbooks out of the library and I get several cooking magazines in the mail. A couple of the cooking magazines have the recipes in a "centerfold" type layout. I laugh every time the "meals of the month" pop out. Yeah, yeah I'm easily amused.

Now, I don't read anything hardcore like Gourmet magazine, in fact, I get a little disappointed if I accidentally grab a cookbook with recipes for over the top fancy stuff.

I like short quick recipes that maybe, just maybe, if the stars align properly, the kids will eat. The kids are the main reason why I don't cook anything overly fancy, who wants to spend 5hrs in the kitchen to have your fellow diners eat a minuscule nibble and then ask, "How much of this do I have to eat to get dessert?"

Now here is something that probably won't surprise you. I hate recipes that are more then six ingredients long. If the recipe has a huge ingredient list around about ingredient number seven or eight, my mind starts to wander.

Oh yeah, the actual steps to make the recipe can't be longer then say four or five steps long. I might be able to make it through six steps if the steps are short.

Any longer and I flip the page looking for the next recipe. I know I have probably missed some great food but I just can't get through huge recipe. I also hate recipes that call for odd sized cans of ingredients or ingredients you cannot find in any normal store.

Now that you know my secret, you will understand why recently, I was reading an article about the first Thanksgiving. Now the article appeared in a publication geared towards people who love herbs.

Okay, it's for more then herb lovers. This magazine chugs right past lover, in fact, it zips past enthusiast and pulls into the over the top avid (crazy) station.

Herbs in the garden, herbs in the kitchen, and herbs in everything you do. If these people could weave clothes out of mint they probably would-not that there is anything wrong with that. It is just a little bit more "enthusiastic" then I want to be, but it makes for fun reading.

Back to how this has anything to do with cooking, in the magazine the author was expounding about celebrating Thanksgiving. Ah but not just any old celebration would do, it had to be the way our ancestors did.

To that end, she was going to make traditional recipes. I was pretty amazed to see that, contrary to what I thought, green bean casserole and instant mashed potatoes never hit the table at the first Thanksgiving.

For that matter, homemade stuffing or at least the type of stuffing I associate with Thanksgiving and sweet potatoes aren't traditional either, well at least according to this cook.

She wanted to do it just as the Pilgrims did using herbs just as the Pilgrims did.

She has this vision of the Pilgrim women out in the woods lovingly collecting herbs and sprinkling them on the food because the herbs are tasty. I have a vision of the pilgrim women sprinkling the food with herbs because it will mask the scent of rot but you say to-ma-to I say to-mah-to.

Frankly, I don't see the Pilgrims having the time, resources or ingredients on hand to make a Raspberry Sage glaze-but what do I know. In addition, I am positive they did not have access to extra virgin olive oil, sesame oil, rice wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar and soy sauce to create the five other recipes she considered traditional.

I would think with fending off bear attacks, trying not to catch typhoid and worrying about whether the Indians were really friendly or whether they were going to massacre them in their sleep would take precedents over concocting a recipe for turkey in a rum butter demi-glaze but then I could be wrong.

Jennifer Flaten lives where the local delicacy is fried cheese, Wisconsin. She writes about family life, its amusing or not so amusing moments. "At least it's not another article on global warming," she says. Jennifer bakes a mean banana bread and admits an unusual attraction to balloon animals and cup cakes. Busy preparing for the zombie apocalypse, she stills finds time to write "As I See It," her witty, too often true column. "My urge to write," says Jennifer, "is driven by my love of cupcakes, with sprinkles on top. Who wouldn't write for cupcakes, with sprinkles," she wonders.

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