Sunday, March 25, 2007

In the Kitchen

I am by no means a cullinary genius. When I got married, I knew how to make hamburger helper, macaroni and cheese, and spaghetti. That was it. And there were a couple of nights in the beginning when I burned the hamburger helper. I started branching out, stretching out of my comfort zone, with simplicities like sloppy joes and my mother-in-law's 5-can chili recipe. With the acquisition of a George Foreman grill, I moved from the world of ground beef on to grilled chicken breast - excellent with a can of corn and a baked potato or a salad. That was pretty much the menu for our first year of marriage. If it came in a box, I could usually handle it. Usually.

Don't get me wrong. I'm not a complete idiot. I can generally follow the directions on a recipe and come out with at least the premise of the meal described. But what I truly envy is that special quality people like my mother-in-law seem to have been born with - the ability to open the pantry door, see what's in there, and just create something fantastic with a little of this and a little of that. No crib sheet. Total free-form. It's amazing.

I have several cookbooks: the Bisquick cookbook, an Amish cookbook, various and sundry church cookbooks, and my current favorite - a slow-cooker cookbook. I love being able to throw something in the crock pot and come home hours later to dinner ready to be served. Or at least, I love the idea. I have to admit that I don't do it as often as I could or should.

I think my favorite recipe is for BBQ chicken and corn on the cob. Sounds pretty simple, right? Just wait. It gets even simpler. It's a crock pot meal. You just put the frozen chicken breast on the bottom of the crock pot and pour a bottle of BBQ sauce (whatever brand you prefer) over it. Then you wrap little mini ears of corn in aluminum foil and put them on top of the chicken. Cover and set on low for 7-8 hours. See, I told you it was simple. Even I can get this one right!

So, what's your favorite recipe? Help a struggling cullinary half-wit out.


gautami tripathy said...

I too have this flair for cooking anything out of just scratch. I can experiment and come out with wholesome meals. I have never used cookbooks ever. What my mom taught me, just watching her, my grandma or my imagination.

I like your very honest post.

Cook up a tale

Regina Clare Jane said...

I'm with you, Amber. I can cook from a recipe just fine but as far as being really creative with stuff... nah, it's just not there. But I'm okay with that and so is hubby!
My current fav recipe is from the current issue of Yoga Journal- Walnut, Arugula, Lemon Fetuccini- de-lish! And pretty easy!

Anonymous said...

You've inspired me to try my crock pot out again...I've always thought about it, but never used it.

Spicing and marinating is where my talents lie...I can't come up with original recipes but I can make them tasty!

Denise said...

I know exactly what you're saying (especially considering I have the exact same mother-in-law as you!)! I tried recreating one of her simpler-sounding recipes with some success. 1 lb ground beef, 1 can tomato sauce, 1 can diced tomatoes, approx 3 cups cooked elbow macaroni, salt & pepper to taste (you can also add diced onion if you like). I'm actually having the leftovers for lunch today!

Tori said...

Your 1st year marriage stories reminds me of the story my mother tells about the first meal she made for my dad. It was baked potatoes...she didn't realize you were supposed to wash them.
My favorite recipes change.
This past week I made 2 from scratch vegan Indian recipes.
They were so good and my place still smells like the great combination of spices.

~Amber~ said...

guatami: I envy you...honestly.

regina: I may have to look that recipe up - it looks good!

mardougrrl: I absolutely swear by my crock pot! I have a slow cooker cookbook that has recipes for entire meals all in one pot - and they aren't all stews and casseroles. I'm trying a crock pot lasagna recipe this week. We'll see how it goes.

Denise: my mom used to make something like that...she called it goulash. I can do it, but Hubby isn't crazy about it, so I don't. And you may not have the same flair for pulling fantastic meals out of thin air as our MIL, but you are a pretty fantabulous cook yourself!

tori: that totally sounds like something I would have done! Wow.

Norma said...

Sounds yummy. But my husband hates corn. I did a TT early on about my cookbooks, most of which don't get used, but after 47 years, they are sort of old friends.