What’s Cooking & Other Kitchen Games

emeril1_t290 I’m pitching a reality TV show idea to Hollywood.  This show would feature any number of really excellent cooks (Rachel Ray, Paula Dean, and, ooh la la Emeril (Bam!) to name a few) who would come in to the studio kitchen and attempt to teach me how to cook. I would then attempt (keyword: attempt) to make the dish or the meal, right there on national television.  It’s a bit like Julie & Julia because, of course I would be attempting to imitate a great cook, but it would also combine elements of some other reality TV shows like Survivor.  The audience members getting drawn to sample the finished product (would they be the contestants or the judges?) would be the ones trying to survive, of course.  The name of this new reality TV show?  You guessed it, “How To Screw Up A Really Great Meal”.  I can hear it now.  The studio audience applauding, the cameras swing into action panning the audience, lights go up full, the musical score plays and the announcer’s voice belts out my cue to go onstage, “This is How To Screw Up A Really Great Meal with your host, The Wild Mind!”  The crowd goes wild, because they truly hope that this episode will be the one where I finally pull off an edible attempt.

Sigh.  One can dream.

fantasy cook off Hell’s Kitchen

Truth of the matter is, I’ve never been comfortable in the kitchen until recently.  Growing up in my home, for me, and learning to cook with a dad who was first, an excellent cook himself, and two, anal retentive about leveling off every single cup, tablespoon and teaspoon.  Now, that’s not such a bad thing, but something happened between my father and I in the kitchen every time he tried to teach me a recipe that led to him getting frustrated with me and me in tears about it…or angry.  My memory of the experience is a bit Hell’s Kitchen-esque.  The result?  I gave up trying to cook.  By the time I really needed to cook to feed a family, there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to ever measure up to my, then, husband’s mom’s cooking or my now deceased father’s ability to measure and scoop so succinctly, so again, you guessed it, I gave up and quit trying.  I mean, who really enjoys slaving away for a couple of hours after a long day at work only to be greeted with criticism.  Throw the poor cook a bone and at least affirm the effort. Those of you wonderful family members out there who suffer in silence and still muster the lie, “It was great honey!” and manage to choke it down anyway, are to be commended.  You will soon be dining like kings instead of ordering out take-out. Anyway, enough of my deplorable kitchen issues. 

Cooking isn’t rocket science

One thing my dad did tell me was any fool who can read can learn to cook.  In fact, his attitude was that if you can read you can teach yourself to do anything and by the time I left home for college he’d proven that theory on a number of things in his own life.  It was pretty amazing.  So, while our father-daughter bonding kitchen experiences are less than ideal, my dad set a pretty great example in a bunch of areas. Learning things you have no clue how to do was one of them.

So, with that example, and with the added incentive that my poor children are starving, I’ve decided to, finally in midlife, do something I’ve really always wanted to do, but have never really made a commitment to doing.  I’m finding that cooking is a lot more fun than I expected. 

j0426457Since being single, I’ve found out that there are also many, many men who are not only great handy men, but they are skilled in the kitchen as well.  This leads me to think that gaining some kitchen knowledge might be a lot more fun than I previously thought.  After all, there’s a lot of fun to be had using hot pads, an egg beater and real butter.  Accompanying the meal preparations with a fine bottle of wine is a nice touch.  Later in the evening the adventurous cooking couple can advance to serving each other cocktails such as Sex On The Beach or Screwdrivers.  But for those, who like me, are uncertain of themselves in this new domain, I’d like to suggest these simple steps to enjoying a wonderful culinary experience. This is a combination cooking experience for beginners and a party game.  It is a versatile recipe.  Feel free to experiment with your own combinations and techniques.  As you gain confidence and skill, I’m sure you, too, will be able to develop your own personal culinary style.  If you’re more adept at the culinary arts maybe you could leave a comment and share what variations on this recipe you’ve tried. 

Recipe For Kitchen Success

Ingredients:

2 nicely shaped ripe oranges, one ripe but not over-ripe banana, saucepan, oven with working heat controls, 1 very flavorful Kielbasa, seasonings.

Instructions:

Step One:  Carefully and slowly, peel the oranges

Step Two:  Gently squeeze the oranges

Step Three: Savor the oranges as you simmer over a low heat and season to taste.

Step 4:  Continue savoring and simmering while stirring occasionally.

Step 4:  While simmering the oranges over a gradually increasing heat, peel the banana

Step 5:  When the oranges, banana and oven are fully heated…

Step 6:  Play Hide The Kielbasa

Enjoy!

Roasting Chestnuts, Ringing Bells, Jumping Santa Merrily On High and Other Songs of the Season

j0431277 Have you ever stopped to consider the lyrics of many of the songs we sing during this time of year?  I’m talking about the songs that are usually passed off as innocent children’s songs of Santa, elves, presents under the tree and reindeer on rooftops.  If you’ve read my posts on Handy Men and Their Tools, Hoses and Pumps, Fire Trucks, or Wood Deliveries then you might already suspect the direction I am heading with this.   Now that it is Christmas, and because I had a special request to get away from the depressing divorce stuff and do something much more fun and tawdry, let’s take a look at some of those holiday songs Wild Mind style.

To start things off, I suggest that the song, Up On The Housetop, by B.R. Hanby, is not as naively innocent as it appears.  Let’s take a look:

Up on the housetop reindeer pause (okay, this is starting to sound weird already.  I mean there is the couch, the kitchen, the hot tub and the bedroom, but the rooftop? With reindeer?)

j0440939 Out jumps good old Santa Claus (Jumping

Santa? Sounds like a title from the movie section of the adult store)

Down thru the chimney with lots of toys

(What? Toys from the adult store? Not in my chimney!)

All for the little ones, Christmas joys (See! Size does NOT matter.)

Ho, ho, ho! (Wait!  Who you callin’ a ho?)

Who wouldn’t go? (Where?  To the adult store? I wouldn’t but that’s just me.  After all, I thought Santa made home delivery. Isn’t that what this whole reindeer and sleigh thing is about anyway? No, I said reindeer and sleigh, not reindeer and swing…but…wait…now that you mention it…)

Up on the housetop, click, click, click (very delicately stated but sleighs and reindeer don’t click, they creak, they snort, they groan, they…well, never mind, what do I know anyway? I’m not into sleighs and swings, housetops and deer, not much anyway.)

j0399597Down thru the chimney with good Saint Nick (oh, he’s good alright! But, again, what do I know, right?)

I could go on and on with this song alone.  It talks about filling stockings, begging Santa to “fill it well” and even later on talks about whips.  It isn’t as innocent a song as one might think. It isn’t the only song of this ilk either. Let’s take a look at some other holiday titles just for fun. 

We’ve all heard of the popular favorite, Jingle Balls Bells which accurately depicts the state of affairs (pun intended) after the Chestnuts Have Been Roasting on The Open Fire. Hmmm, nice and tender!

Then, of course, those who are single at Christmas might experience Silver Bells or have a Blue Christmas unless they can figure out a way to Ding Dong Merrily on High (which by the way is a pretty song, but the name?  Are you kidding me?) or Rock Around The Christmas Tree with a Boogie Woogie Santa Claus of their own. In that case, someone’s Bells Will Be Ringing.  Of course, for those who are desperate for some winter companionship there is always Dominick the Donkey (does it help that he’s Italian?), The Little Drummer Boy, Good King Wenceslas, Frosty the Snowman (though I hear he’s a bit frigid), and Jolly Old St. Nick (just be sure to stock up on  the Viagra, just in case).j0422501 No one should be lonely with companions like these readily available and willing to spread a little Christmas cheer.  I would advise you to stay away from Little St. Nick, after, all how much fun is that? Of course, if you are into large group events, then the Parade of The Wooden Soldiers might be more to your liking. 

Now, for all my guy friends out there who are seeking female companionship because Baby It’s Cold Outside, I encourage you to consider Jeannette Isabella.  I hear she brings a torch with her when she comes. That might make for some Glad Christmas Bells! I also understand that The Sugarplum Fairies put on a good show.  I think for the right price, they might even dance.  And, men, if you are decent to your date and don’t expect her to go Over the River and Through the Woods, then you might end up being one of the lucky ones Driving Home for Christmas.

j0422588So, for all out there, however you choose to celebrate, I do hope you hear the Bells of Christmas All Through The Night.  After all, everyone needs their own Hard Rock Candy Christmas.  And, in all your festivities, whether on couch, in front of the fire, or on the rooftop with Santa in his sleigh, have a Wonderful Christmas Time and Don’t Forget To Feed The Reindeer!

P.S.  If you do try the rooftop, sleigh and reindeer thing, let me know how it goes.  I have serious questions about how that’s going to look when you have to explain to the insurance guy how the holes got in the roof and I’m dying to know how you managed to balance the sleigh.  I’ve had trouble with those parts myself.

 

A Song, Some Memories, The Kentucky Derby and A Passport

Sometimes I seriously wonder what rock I’ve been hiding under.  I mentioned in my last post that a friend sent me a song.  That song prompted me to go find the video for it and I got distracted and my last post happened instead of this one. 

Back in the day I was a fan of  The Human League, The Eurythmics, Men At Work, Bananarama and other groups of this musical genre.  Obviously, being a starving college student, I didn’t have tons of stereo equipment (unlike many of my friends who had the whole slew of components, thanks to their Daddys’ wallets) so I didn’t purchase albums or tapes.  I just listened to whatever people played.  I never heard this song.  Not once.  Until yesterday.

Now, those readers who’ve journeyed with me for a bit, know that I’ve lived under a rock ,for the most part, the last couple of decades of my life.  (Yes, I’m being a bit facetious…dont’ take everything so seriously!)  While most people were working on careers or having good marriages and building stable financial lives for their families, I was doing none of this.  What I was doing was occupying my time being something for someone else.  This something was not me and the resulting crash and burn of it all has me rethinking how to do the second half of life.  Part of that rethinking has me making plans to do all the stuff I’ve wanted to do, but because I lived under a rock with fairly unadventurous people, never did.  I no longer feel I need to have a companion with me before I begin my adventure.  I’m gradually crawling out from the rock. 

I sometimes get momentarily down and discouraged because the rock I’m crawling out from is heavy right now, however it is not nearly as heavy as it was last year at this time.  It is also not going to be this heavy next year at this time if things continue for me as they have been.  In fact, I determined that this year, in a step of faith and optimism and personal accountability, I am getting my passport.

I do sometimes feel like I’m starting out behind in life, but after this weekend’s Kentucky Derby race, I’m thinking it is still possible for me to come from behind and finish strong.  Below is a clip of that amazing race if you didn’t see it.   To see how really dramatic this upset was, forward the video to the end where they show the replay.  This horse started out the race 15 lengths behind the pack.  They didn’t even have him on the video for most of the race!  He just punched it at the end.  Hey, I think I can do that too!  Now, all I need is a good rider jockey!!!!  (LOL!  I could not resist that!)

Here’s the vid.  Enjoy!