Just because I say I like to cook doesn’t mean I want to do it every single night. Some days (weeks) I don’t want to cook at all but over all I would say, yes, I like to cook. Clean up not so much. I think because I like to cook that I am pretty good at it. Some things of course don’t turn out so well but most of the time most of the people like most of what I cook. I make this fish soup that everyone raves about. I have never tasted it, I don’t like fish soup so maybe I am not so much a good cook as I am a good recipe follower.
My mom has given me a love of cookbooks. I already own several (thirty six) and can’t seem to stay out of that aisle when I go to the book store. I prefer one with lots of pictures. I think my favorite cookbook at home is Creme de Colorado. I have tried several things from there and never been disappointed. I also love Cooking Light cookbooks, they have fabulous pictures and again, most things made from there come out tasting pretty good. There a others I like too but this is not a cookbook review.
I may also have a slight addiction to all those small cookbooks you find at the checkout at the grocery store. I have a hard time just saying no. All the pretty pictures. I am often found in the longest line at the store just so I can pour over them while waiting. These are often an impulse buy which was the evil marketers plan all along.
Despite having this mini bookstore cookbook shelf in my kitchen I more often than not head to the internet when I am looking for a recipe. This has also curbed my buying of the little mini cookbooks at the checkout line. Our current repertoire of dinners mostly comes from a few of my favorite cooking websites. It is just easier for me to look it up on the web than to lug out several cookbooks and the website will sometimes have a little story and lots of pictures. The best part is I can just enter a couple of ingredients that I already have on hand into AllRecipes and they will come up with a few choices for me.
I like to cook a large variety of things. No area of eating is less appealing than another and I really enjoy baking too. The one thing most of my recipes have in common is easy ingredients. I don’t really make things that require crazy things like anchovies or some fancy mushroom or something that I have to spend more than a second looking for in my local grocer. Although the list of what is weird has changed over the years. I never would have cooked with artichoke hearts ten years ago but today they are found in many dishes. Same thing with fresh herbs. They just weren’t as readily available as they are today.
The one area of cooking I struggle with is the grill. Growing up it was my fathers job to grill. He stood out there in all kinds of weather hovering over burgers or steaks or chicken. Basting with barbecue or just making sure it doesn’t catch fire. He stood there, over the grill, the entire time things cooked. Unlike my mom who throws it on the grill, comes in and starts the vegetables, cleans up a mess, checks on the grill, comes back in, finishes the veggies…you know, doing eight things at once. And still her grilling came out just as good as Dads. I can’t do either.
I have tried the hovering over it but usually it is under cooked when I do that. The light is so terrible at dusk that I just can’t tell if it’s done. Sometimes I have hacked the heck out of it by cutting in to check the inside because inevitably the outside has been charred (burnt black as night) because it caught on fire. (When this happens my wonderful husband is extra grateful because he likes the crispy outsides…). And if I try and do more on than just grill our food is burned, overly dry and tasteless. (the second one happens more often.)
My brother-in-law Andrew is the king of grilling. The KING I tell you. He brines, he rubs, he marinates and he cooks them to perfection. No charring and no residual blood running out on the plate to mingle with the other food which is totally gross and usually after that, Ellen, our youngest daughter, can’t eat for a couple of days…
While we visited my sister and brother-in-law during Thanksgiving he grilled some steaks he had marinated and Bob and I were amazed at how good they were. Being a man that likes his red meat Bob is often disappointed with my efforts and has pretty much given up hope.
I picked Andrews brain about his grilling technique hoping to use them at home to perfect (make edible things from the grill). His directions? Marinade, good cuts of meat, grill on the vegetable rack part of the grill (no direct flame action) and a meat thermometer. Meat thermometer? I thought a good griller could ‘just tell’ when the meat was done. I never thought to use a meat thermometer. I decided I would try again to grill.
I bought the expensive cut of beef. I marinated. I got out the meat thermometer.
Okay, I have very little experience here and so I put the meat on the veggie part of the grill and stuck the meat thermometer in. After about six minutes I went out to check on it. It looked like it needed to be turned but had that huge meat thermometer stuck in it so I had to pull that out before it could be turned. Tongs in one hand I reached with my other hand to pull it out…no gloves. My brain forgot that the thermometer would be blazing hot…as hot as the entire inside of the grill…like 375 degrees hot. Yep, I burned it. This is what I get? I freakin’ burned my finger. Let me tell you if these steaks don’t taste good I am going to be pretty darn upset now! And I am going to blame Andrew! I came in and soaked it in ice water while continuing to cook.
Bob was more concerned with whether or not I heard a sizzle when I placed my finger on the meat thermometer using sound effects and everything.
How did this end? The steak was perfecto. Just pink on the inside, no charring and the marinade seasoned it just right. I don’t know if the cooking method did it or if it was the sacrifice of human flesh to the grilling god, but it was pretty darn good and despite our horrible first encounter I will now use a meat thermometer. (If Santa is reading this I just want to say that Andrew has a digital meat thermometer that doesn’t get so hot). Best part is that because Bob was being unsympathetic I accidentally dropped his steak on the deck…twice.