Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Reasons why I'll Never be a Chef

I have a confession: I'm addicted to the Food Network. I like nothing better than to sit and watch one of the Ultimate Recipe Showdowns, or the cake, sugar or candy showdowns. It boggles my mind to make Shrek out of cake. I love to watch Cake Boss on TLC too. And I don't watch Ricardo and Friends just for the sexy Quebeçois accent: I love the innovative ways he makes simple food (and his cookbook is great.)  I'm a Chef wannabe.

I'll never be a chef, though.

  • I hate to cut onions. My eyes burn for a couple of hours every time I do. 
  • I almost amputated my finger cutting off the end of a cob of corn so that it would fit in the microwave. Knives are not my friend.
  • I hate the feel of raw ground meat. I hate handling it, I hate mixing it, and meatballs/meatloaf mixed in my standing mixer tends to be tough from over mixing. 
  • I hate mixing things with my hands, period. I would never mix a salad with my hands. Maybe it's why I can make pie crust so well-I handle it as little as possible.
  • I'm not adventurous with flavours. I'm a good cook, but not an innovative one. Adventurous is putting a bit of dry mustard in my meatloaf (and the family didn't like it.)
  • I hate cleaning up after baking. One of my claims to fame is scratch chocolate cream pie, but I don't make it often because it takes every freaking bowl and pot in the house to make.  
  • I'm not going to spend 8 hours and 57 steps to make a dish that has 243 ingredients, most of which require a trip to a bigger city and a bank loan to acquire.  Chances are, the family wouldn't eat it anyway.
  • I'm dangerously, life threateningly allergic to garlic. Vampires have nothing to fear from me.
  • I don't know how to light our barbeque, and have no interest to learn. If hubby wants to "cook meat on flame" why would I take that pleasure away from him? There is only one license to grill in our house. (I don't know how to work the snowblower either. If I knew how to operate it, I might be expected to do it...but I digress)
  • Sugar burns are not fun. I did it once-never again.
  • There is a limit to even ultimate, 25 year guaranteed non-stick cookware if you burn the sugar well enough...Brittle is an oxymoron if the brittle has cooled onto the pot.
I'm a busy, work from home mom to a 5 year old who loves shrimp and Vietnamese Pho (noodle) soup, but who won't eat tomatoes (although ketchup is fine.) My husband is a meat and potatoes guy who could eat pork chops every night, and eats the same thing for breakfast and lunch every day. There's not much point in getting creative if no one will eat it and my daughter will be scrounging for a cheese string and hotdog instead.

I am a snob about one thing, though. I am a scratch baker. It might be a counterpoint to the Lemon Pie/Blueberry Muffins/Boston Creme Pie from a box  that I ate as a child. My daughter came home one day with the astonishing discovery that cake comes in a box. She was pretty excited about that. Not in my house, honey. I make pie crust, bread, muffins, and other baking from scratch. I even tried to make Apple Strudel once, and used to spend days every year making hand dipped chocolate truffles and dipped cherries. My baking is good, but not "wow, would you look at that". It's more Edna Staebler than Martha Stewart, but it's good.

And so I live vicariously. I marvel at the creations that Charmian Christie comes up with. I sit in jaw-dropping amazement at the Hanging Gardens of Babylon made out of cake, the chandelier made out of sugar, and the Sesame Street cake with characters made of modelling chocolate. I pick up tidbits along the way but I'll most likely never need to know how to make a four foot tall cake. I don't have that much counter space.

And now, I need to go. My daughter and I are going to make banana bread.


Christine Peets said...

So, you're not a chef. You're a baker, and from the sounds of it, a mighty fine one.
What you also are is a great writer, and I think you can consider your watching those cooking shows good research for posts like this.
If your daughter enjoys baking with you, let her graduate to meals. Kids love mushing stuff like the bananas for the banana bread and the meat and stuff for the meatloaf. Bake it all together and voila--dinner and dessert. Bake it at the same time and temperature--not in the same pan, although banana meatloaf might be a hit.

Divawrites said...

Laura loves to help me make dinner and I encourage it. Ketchup loaf (aka meatloaf) is our specialty, and so is sludge, a ground beef, tomato and noodles in one pot concoction.

We also bake buns together (from scratch) and she's pretty good at forming them now. Cooking with a kid is fun!