Thursday, January 27, 2011

Simple Simon

I enjoy cooking periodically. I don’t do it all the time, but when I do – I like to make a production of it. I also like to experiment. There have been a few noteworthy failures as well as the occasional success, but what stands out most vividly in my mind is the general shock and amazement our friends exhibit when I do chance upon a winning combination in the kitchen.

I like to cook and I couldn’t possibly care less about football. The horrible truth is out.

Someone asked me not long ago how it came to be that an individual so completely incompetent in so many other domestic areas came to know his way, comfortably, around the kitchen. I hadn’t thought much of it, but when she asked I realized there actually was a turning point. I wasn't born with it. I had an epiphany that led my otherwise peanut-butter-and-jellied feet into the kitchen many years ago – and I guess it just stuck.

In approximately 1991 Mom suggested I assist in snapping the ends off some green beans. I had been reading several historical accounts of pioneer and Native American families about that time so, I calmly responded with “I would, but that is women’s work.”

Did you ever say the wrong thing?

It happened to me.

That afternoon I found myself dropped off smartly at the front of the grocery store with a children’s recipe book in one hand, a fistful of grubby singles in the other and strict instructions not to come out until I had everything I needed to cook dinner for 4 – 5 if I wanted to eat too.

Later that evening I turned out 10 of my signature “Simple Simon Pies” – biscuit dough baked over the cups of an upended muffin tin and filled with a sautéed beef-and-ground-cheese concoction - canned green beans to garnish and $1.38 left over after coupons. Dad was, to put it mildly, “amused” at her diabolical punishments for chauvanism; hypocritical, I think, for a man who grew up with a cook and housekeeper and to this day prepares meals consisting of not more than one food group at a time.

Cooking alone (Mom retired to the couch with a book on parenting) was a bit of a challenge for an 11-year-old as I had to stand on a small footstool to reach the stovetop, but I learned to get around pretty sharp in there. Anyway - I had to…..every Tuesday night that summer.

I guess Mom’s the one to blame.

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