I can cook. Really. If left to my own devices, I will not starve to death, nor will I find myself subjected to rickets, beriberi, or any other nutritional deficiencies…
…but there’s no denying that my family has politely requested I forego the traditional “Mother” role in the kitchen.
I can’t blame them. Cooking makes me mean. I don’t enjoy it, I’m not good at it, and as for the alchemy that results in the meat being hot and fully cooked at the EXACT same moment as the vegetables, well that’s clearly arcane, occult knowledge that requires sacrificing a small mammal under a blood moon, and I am NOT that kind of heathen. Hmph.
My mother, both of my sisters, and even my son are effortless, instinctive chefs. They are all fully capable of throwing together something luscious with just whatever happens to be in the fridge and the pantry as soon as you look a little peckish. They’re prone to giving directions like “a pinch of this” and “oh, you know – until it tastes right” when asked “How much of this do you use?”
I, on the other hand, approach every cooking attempt as if it was an eleventh-grade biology lab, with Mr. Domizio in a natty 1970s plaid suit looking at me with despair. If I ask “how much,” then I want the answer to be “exactly two and a half teaspoons and not a grain more.” I level spoonfuls of things before adding them. I get out scales and weigh things. I cook in a way that makes my son hysterical; before he died, my husband was equally entertained – until I lost my temper and barked at them both to GET OUT IF YOU EVER WANT TO EAT ANYTHING EVER AGAIN EVER.
Wisely, they did.
(This fussy and anal-retentive style of cooking actually makes me into a very tired but mostly successful baker, as it happens. Not that baking EVER helped anyone live a more nutritious lifestyle.)
My point – and I do have one – is that I am about to offer a kitchen tip. I am fully aware of how remarkable that is, and how, in whatever antiques mall in the sky that Jonathan is currently in, he is rolling on the floor in great, hearty gusts of laughter. BUT HERE IT IS ANYWAY:
When the pear you want to put in your morning yogurt is as hard as winter ice on the sidewalk, you can haul out the mandolin and shave it. Makes it edible and releases what juices are there.
Now that I look at it, I think of the times I’ve seen “shaved pear and fennel salad” on a menu, but I don’t much like fennel, so I’ve never had it. Still, it makes me realize that shaving a pear on the mandolin might not be such a new concept…
Oh, never mind. It might be new to YOU.
Let us go forth and attempt good nutrition!
Breakfast. So good. Shaved pear (for that “chef” touch) with golden flax seed, wheat germ, walnuts and pistachios, and whole-milk no-sugar organic plain Greek yogurt. Makes me hungry to look at it. (Let the dog lick the bowl. He deserves a happy gut too.)