Thursday, January 22, 2009

Re-Learning to Fry an Egg

The other day, I instituted one of the many changes I have vowed to at least give serious consideration to. I cooked a meal. It has been years since I turned on an oven, pulled out a pan, or read ingrdients on stained old recipe cards.

I assumed it would be a huge comic display of the stereotypical useless man deciding anyone can cook. I assumed wrong. I am sure it took longer than if my wife did it, but when it was all over, a meal from scratch, well almost from scratch - I did not make the pie crust - when it was all over, a damn fine tasting effort was the result. The bonus was I did not tear up the kitchen and leave a huge mess in my wake. I cleaned up as I went and when I sat down to eat, only one pan and the dishes we ate off of were left when we sat back with full satisfied bellies. I guess anyone can cook.

As it goes with any cook, I hoped my meal would be tasty. Tasty not to me but to my wife, who is so very quick to let her feelings be known. I served up the meat pie and waited for ................. well I guess I do not know what I was waiting for. A compliment? A small recognition of this landmark event in our years together. A small token gesture that at least I tried? I thought it tasted excellent. But all I got out of my wife was, "Yeah it was good." Minimal positive reinforcement, but at least it was positive.

Somewhat deflated after an afternoon of working with unfamilar tools, I shrugged and continued my evening. She went into her office to continue her nose to grindstone accounting work. An evening was playing out like any other evening. About an hour or so after we had eaten, she comes downstairs and looks at me and says, "That meal you cooked, it was good. Really good." She turned and went back to her office.


The recipe came from my blogging buddy over to Cthulhu's Family Restaurant. He posted a recipe for Steak and Stout pie that made my mouth water just reading it. I tried to follow it faithfully but ran into some glitches. First thing was I could not find any stout on the day I was in town looking for it. So I used a bottle of Honey Brown ale we have had in the refrigerator for months now. I did not use high end meat. We had stew meat frozen in the freezer downstairs, so I used that. And when it came time to actually cook this excellent recipe up, I had some comprehension problems with some of the directions. I anquished over whether I should cut the bacon into smaller pieces. Should I cook the bacon awhile before adding the onions? And just what constituted "2 large carrots" anyway? I wanted to remain faithful to the recipe but as I am working on this self improvement gig, anquishing is on the short list of things to rid myself of. So I winged it when I did not have the ingredients or the understanding to know what the Hell he meant.

It turned out way better than I expected. The Honey Brown ale added some zip and the stew meat became excellent from the three hours of simmering. The carrots were cooked but firm and to the delight of my wife, I did not put too many onions in. I love onions. The more the merrier. I wanted to slice up another onion, but this time I followed directions. I am glad I did. More onions would have over powered the excellent meaty ale-ee taste that resulted.

Thank You Bull.


Bull said...

Bully for you!!!!

Glad it worked out. Fact of the matter is, any reasonably brown beer will do.

Guess the directions I write are sorta' like the Necronomicon...there are some things that leave you wondering.

Utah Savage said...

I envy your wife. But now that she know you can do it, she just might expect you to step up to the plate and make this regular part of your routine. Next time I want a good pie crust recipe. I've spent my life trying to make a good pie crust and so far it has eluded me.

Demeur said...

I learned to cook when I was eight but that's another story. I learned to make a killer meatball sandwich watching Emeril on TV. So that's one dish under your belt what's next?

PresterJohn said...

Crummy's becoming a kitchen bitch? And this is suppose to be self improvement?

Jeezus, just shoot me. Please!

El Cerdo Ignatius said...

It's true! Anyone can cook.

And Utah Savage is onto something. For 14+ years of marriage, my wife has avoided trying to make roast beef. A few months ago, though, she found a nice roast on special at the grocery, and bought it. Once it was home, it was up to me to figure out how to cook it, and then, up to me to actually make the meal. I called my mother for instructions, and then set to work. Much to everyone's shock, including mine, it turned out great. Even the gravy.

Guess who is now expected to make a roast beef dinner once a month? Hint: it ain't my wife.

BBC said...

It looks really good, wish I was there to have some of it. I do a lot of cooking, often dreaming up my own dishes and Helen always raves about them.

Don't recall that I've ever made a pie crust though, I pretty much just stick to cakes or buy a graham cracker pie crust.

Tenderloin here is over ten bucks a pound at Sunrise Meats and you have to buy a bigger package of it. The strip they had was over seven pounds and 80 bucks so I settled on a single top sirloin that was under four bucks.

Usually I just stick to cheaper meats.

MRMacrum said...

Bull - Yes it was indeed tasty. The beer was key. Simmering it for so long definitely made it better. I would have waited longer, but I was damn hungry after working on it for so long. Your directions were fine. The carrot thing was all me. All I had were baby carrots. SO I had to Guesstimate. Next time, more carrots.

Utah - Actually I hope to not worry about her "expecting" a meal. I should step up on occaision. And I haven't for a long time. Oh, I have cooked. But until this meal, I brought them home ready to eat after hiring some pizza joint to do my cooking for me.

Presterjohn - Yeah, I even wash dishes and feed the cats.

El Cerdo Ignatius - My wife knows too well my ability to not be predictable. Drives her crazy. But, I do plan on cooking more often as it was actually a good time.

BBC - Back in my college and single days I cooked quite often. I was actually not a bad cook. SOmetimes it came out great, sometimes not. But most always it was edible. I can work with whatever is in the fridge or the cupbaoard. This recent foray back into the world of cooking made me wonder why I ever stopped.

Randal Graves said...

"Yeah, it was good" could be read so many ways. Now, if you make it again and she eats it, you'll have confirmation.

Of course, Bull's recipe sounds delicious, so unless you drink all the beer beforehand and set your house on fire, I think us dudes can make a tasty pie.

Gary ("Old Dude") said...

maybe you or bull can post the full recipe----but no hurry every single pan, bowl,dish and cooking untinsel I own is now packed in boxes, and I am reduced to making do with paper plates and tv imitation dinners----hopefully by the middle of next month some semblence of normality will resume for me----time will tell.