It is my sincere hope that this post will be the first of many such posts.
In a previous post, (see “Ants and Vodka”) I firmly established my lack of culinary skills. For those of you that aren’t aware, I may not have been female as a child. I only had one true “doll”–and it was Cabbage Patch–and my childhood playtime memories consist of riding my bicycle and playing copious amounts of kickball and four square (not Foursquare). A lot. I was not at all interested in dolls, playing dress up, or cooking. I was a tomboy.
As a result, I am essentially useless in the kitchen. In the past, anytime my husband and I discussed our imminent marriage, I always told him that he would cook, and I could clean. Cleaning is one “housewife” responsibility that I do enjoy. Now, I’m not Monica Geller or anything, but at times I can be a bit neurotic about being neat. Thankfully, my husband is very blessed with culinary talents, which he no doubt learned from his mother, who is also gifted (I know I sound like a suck-up, but it’s true! One of Craig’s brother’s is a professional chef, so I feel this proves my point.) or else we would starve. My husband has truly been a dear and has spoiled me relentlessly with his cooking, and in other ways too, of course! I have enjoyed homemade biscuits and gravy from scratch many times (my favorite Sunday morning meal), I have stuffed my face with potatoes gratin with a cream sauce from scratch, along with chipotle corn and various amazing veggie dishes.
One night last week, I had a dream that I was fortunate enough to spend an evening with none other than Johnny Depp. I was anxious to make sure he was well taken care of, and offered to cook for him (I’m not really sure why I thought this would be a good idea, given all of what I just said…). In that slow drawl of his that is incredibly attractive, Johnny (we’re on a first name basis now) said, “Love, I’ve seen your blog. I know you can’t cook.” Then he handed me a bag of popcorn kernels and said, “Here. I think this is something you can handle.” When I awoke with a start at 6:14 a.m., I knew what I had to do: I had to cook. In the event that I do manage to spend time with Johnny in the future, I don’t want my cooking skills questioned.
My brother and his wife recently gifted me with The Williams-Sonoma “Bride & Groom Cookbook.” My brother was very distraught to discover that the recipes were not choreographed in a “While the bride sautés the onions, the groom kneads the bread” manner. (It’s just a normal cookbook, albeit a good one.) At the start of my endeavor, I eagerly decided I would cook an entire meal from scratch, from appetizer to entrée to dessert. However, I think my husband was a tad worried he might end up having to make an In-n-Out run if he didn’t intervene so he told me he would be happy to make the entrée.
I decided to cook Gougères (pg. 61). The recipe on the Williams-Sonoma website differs slightly from the version in the cookbook but is essentially the same. It should be noted that I chose a starter with a level three spoon difficulty level, which indicated that it was a “relatively complex dish.” However, I am happy to report that I managed to make the Gougères without a hitch (sorry to disappoint you if you thought I would screw up royally), though there was a time period of a few minutes where I was frantically running back and forth between the cookbook while I beat the eggs into the mixture and on the verge of hyperventilating because I was worried I was going to burn the dough. They were absolutely delicious, and I even took a few to work the next day to share with a co-worker, the first time I have ever taken food I’ve cooked to work.
I also decided that I would make caramelized brussels sprouts (pg. 164, recipe by Williams-Sonoma not available online), level one spoon difficulty. The recipe requires that you sauté the sprouts vigorously after coating the sprouts in olive oil. I honestly feel that a small child is capable of making this dish (hey, I did!). I don’t think I had ever sautéd anything before, so that was cool. I felt like I was working at Benihana. They turned out well, but I did notice that my pee absolutely reeked the next day, which is weird cause I’ve always heard that’s more of an asparagus thing. Just FYI.
My husband, the magical genius that he is, was cooking a potato broccoli cheese soup. He decided to deviate from the recipe and added all sorts of things, like carrots and tons of spices, and it was pure heaven. Someday I hope to attain the culinary heights of Craig Church where I can just decide that I know how to make soup better than the internet and do it, and be right.
I realize that a 26-year-old making cheese bread balls and caramelized brussels sprouts isn’t exactly newsworthy material, but in my world, it is. I’ve definitely caught the cooking bug, and before you know it, I’ll be cooking up a rib-eye steak (and feeding it to Nick Lampke because my husband and I don’t eat beef) and be a culinary master.