Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Lessons in the Kitchen

So I've started on a new adventure. I've decided to cook.

I know, many of you are shocked, especially my husband! He's very thankful though. I used to cook all the time, then I got a job in food services. You'd think that being around so much food and so many ideas of food that I would come home and create marvelous dishes for the eye and the palate. Not so my friend. Not so.

In all fairness I did get excited about trying to reproduce items on the menu in my own kitchen. Then I got tired. Tired of coming up with new ideas for the customers. Tired of trying to find a chicken dish to inspire. Tired of thinking about food period. The only dinner choice I have wanted to make for a long time is what kind of cereal tonight... Life or Captain Crunch with Crunchberries. So what changed you ask.

I read a book. "The Sharper Your Knife the Less You Cry" by Kathleen Flinn. She is a journalist who found herself in a position to fulfill her dream of attending Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She wrote about her experience. I found it fascinating. Believe it or not, I actually took a Culinary Basics class at Utah State University. I was curious about the course and it didn't hurt that my uncle taught it. This proved to be both good and bad. While I had a friendly face in the classroom, I also couldn't fall asleep in class and get away with it unknown and unseen. The seating chart put me in the second row for the 7:30 am class. (The first and last 7:30 class I took) Moving on, as I read about her culinary journey laced with terms such as concasse and knappe I remember that I once knew those terms and did just those things on a regular basis. The more I got into the book the more I wanted to pull out my knives, notes, and recipes and re-learn some of the things that I once knew. That's when it got... interesting.

It was Saturday. I had just finished a chapter with emphasis on the importance of a good sauce. I remembered a lovely sauce that we did over a pan-fried fish dish. It was Lemon Buerre Blanc. Though I wasn't planning on fish, I did have a couple of chicken breasts that were dying for something new to be done with them. I decided to give it a whirl. I pulled out my trusty "cards" that contained the recipe for the sauce and dove in and promptly belly-flopped in my efforts. One of the things that became second nature while in class was the method of sauce making. So much so that I didn't actually take any notes on the method of making the sauce. I delved deep into my memory and brought out such terms as reduce and de-glaze. I also knew there was some serious whipping with a wire whisk somewhere towards the end and lots of butter. I began.

It was a mess. My first attempt was just embarrassing. The recipe calls for white wine. In class we used sparkling white grape juice. I had neither. What I did have was white wine vinegar. I put it in my sauce and was immediately floored by the pungent aroma of vinegar. "No one pours themselves a glass of white wine vinegar to drink with dinner!" I thought to myself. Down the disposal. I try again. This time I opt for a different substitution which just makes me laugh. No white wine in the house (crazy huh... what would it look like if the primary president had a wine rack!) and no grape juice, I opted for the next best thing. Western Family condensed orange juice. I added a bit of the white wine vinegar for the kick. It was a mess. I finally just whipped in the butter with all my strength and threw it on the chicken not caring anymore.

David thought it was great. I thought it was.... was. Just think how much he would have liked it if I had done it right!

Despite the fact that the sauce was less that presentable, it did renew my desire to cook and cook well. Not just mom's tried and true spaghetti dinner with a packet of Western Family spaghetti seasoning thrown into a can of tomato and mushroom soup. But really cook. Fresh ingredients, new flavor profiles, classy presentation.

Crazy thing about it is that it actually feels good.


  1. Yay for cooking! My desire comes back every fall. Today I'm making homemade roasted tomato soup with fresh from the market tomatoes. yum...

    I have that book on my shelf waiting to be read.

    How did you like There's A Slight Chance...?

  2. There's a slight chance.... I liked it overall. It was a fun read. the end was a bit... corny but I really did enjoy the fiasco that she ended up getting herself into. Definately not a book that changed my life or gave me new perpective on anything, but it was a fun read.

  3. Have you seen the movie Julia Julia?

  4. i'm totally into crockpot meals right now. i'm all about cheap and easy (what, am i a hooker?!) and we found a FAB salsa chicken recipe that literally has 5 ingredients. i'll send it your way if you'd like.

  5. Want the recipe! YOu know where to find me.