A list of seven of something- brought to you on Sunday. What can you add?
This post is my Sunday Seven and Foodie Blog Hop offering rolled into one.
(It’s NaNoWriMo season, you know! I have words to write elsewhere… 50,000 of them!)
Please enjoy the three lessons from a funny true story, two recipes, and two food facts!
I can’t cook well.
To be clear, what I should say is that I can’t cook what my Grandfathers call “the food of the palefaces” in the “white people kitchens.” That may or may not sound racist to you, depending on how you feel about cultural comparisons. So I’ll start off this Sunday Seven list with a true short story about the first time that I tried, and epically failed.
I was staying with a guy named Bert. Normally he did the cooking, or we ordered food. (This was in Philadelphia. In that city, everyone has a stack of papers that list businesses that will cook various foods and bring them to your door in exchange for money. The possibilities from those stacks are mind blowing to anyone who hasn’t grown up in a city, especially an American one.) This particular evening, I decided to cook dinner before he got home from work. I had watched the commercials for Shake-N-Bake. “So simple a child can do it!”
Proceeding to the kitchen, I found a box of the Shake-N-Bake product in the pantry. Preheat the oven. I figured that one out. Put seasoning in provided bag- check. Put chicken in bag…
Where I grew up, chickens were in the chicken coop. Outside. Cooking a chicken meant going out, getting one, snapping the neck, defeathering, and then breaking it down.
Bert did not grow up like I did. Bert lived in Philadelphia his whole life. If left out in the sun for twenty minutes, Bert burned. Food of the palefaces in a white people kitchen is a very appropriate description in this case.
I found a package of boneless, skinless chicken breast in the freezer. Chickens are not boneless animals. And that skin is what holds the feathers on. To be honest, I wasn’t sure if the word chicken ought to appear in quotes or not.
The chicken got taken from the freezer package and dropped into the bag with the seasoning. I folded it and started shaking. Then dropped the coated chicken into the baking pan and slid it into the oven.
Forty-five minutes later, I learned something that palefaces are born knowing (or so several of them claim).
1– Defrost chicken before Shake-N-Baking
Bert was shocked that I didn’t know this. Apparently, it is obvious that putting a cold thing into a hotter thing will not make the cold thing hot on the inside. This is some sort of common knowledge. I was still trying to wrap my mind around the idea that chicken came without bones and skins, and was stored in a freezer at all.
How does one make chicken stock without bones? (Another paleface answer was in the pantry. There are packets for this. I didn’t notice that though.) While the chicken was in the oven, I thought a nice side dish would be pasta. I had never used a stove before.
Alright, I know. Some of you are looking at this like I’m crazy. You know what, you could take me in Chopped. If we went on that show, you’d win. But I’ll be volunteering as tribute for The Hunger Games, because I’d be a victor there. You might know about stoves, freezers, blenders, fryers, emulsifiers, anti-griddles, and salamanders. But I can walk into the forest with nothing and make a bow, spear, and fire. As long as the arena isn’t a replica of The Capital, I’d be just fine.
Getting back to the story. So I turn on the stove and place the pot of water. I wait oh so patiently for it to boil. I open the box of pasta. Never before had I seen pasta in a box. It’s these long, hard, dry sticks. To me, I’d say that went bad. But I knew Bert had just bought it, so I assumed that this was normal. I put the linguine in the water. For the next part of the list, here are the lessons I got:
2- Adding vegetable or olive oil to a pot of boiling water will drastically reduce the odds of it boiling over when cooking dried pasta.
3- Electric stoves have these little bowl-like things under the burners. They need to be cleaned every so often, because the residue in them can catch on fire. Pasta water does not help this situation, and, in fact, can actually make it worse. Always keep baking soda on hand when using an electric stove. It puts out the fire. Water does not put out the fire.
Dinner that night ended up being pizza from one of those places where food is ordered and brought to the door. Bert requested that I never cook again. It was five years before I gave it another go. Indoors, at least.
A wok over a fire is a different story.
For the next two items on my list I offer up these recipes. They are wok friendly. I have, however, included ingredients and instructions for those of you who are accustomed to working with the “food of the palefaces in the white people kitchens.”
Since this is a Sunday Seven post, I need two more items for my list. Here goes:
6- Adult lobsters only eat three or four times a year. If a lobster has a hard shell, it is not hungry. They eat and then they hibernate. Lobsters are lazy bugs. Yes, bugs, because they are closely related to the cockroach. And like those bugs, they can survive on almost nothing for extraordinarily long periods a time. It takes three years for an average size adult lobster to starve to death. Seals and cod sometimes eat them. But, other than humans, the most likely thing to kill an adult lobster is… another adult lobster. Yup, they are cannibals, especially the males.
7- Corn. Really, it’s called maize. Corn is actually any cereal plant, especially when it is the predominantly farmed vegetation of a region. Therefore, maize is a type of corn. When the Bible talks about corn, it isn’t referring to a plant with yellow kernels. Maize is from the North and South American continents, and thus was not documented by the people of Asia, Africa, or Europe during Biblical times. Depending on its state, maize is a fruit, vegetable, and starchy grain. Based on how it is grown, it falls into the category of being a grain. The kernels, however, can qualify botanically as a fruit- until they are cooked. Generally, it is served and presented as a vegetable after it has been steamed, grilled, or boiled. It can also be transformed into cornmeal, which is a grain, or popcorn, which also counts as a grain. (Then there’s corn syrup and bio-fuel uses, and that just goes into a whole other debate.) It has folic acid, vitamin C, fiber, and several other vitamins and minerals. How much depends on the corn itself, and how it was prepared. Fresh, canned, dried, and frozen have entirely different nutritional values. Popcorn was served in milk by Native Americans millenniums before Kellogg’s started making breakfast cereal.
Interested in more foodie info? Stop back on November 23 to learn about foods from the first thanksgiving- a post from this Native American blogger.