Good Kitchen Magic

This is Brendan this morning. The notebook he is holding is a pad of paper I take to church with us on Sundays. When we are sitting and doing our singing, they are allowed to quietly write in it or draw in it. Most of the time, Caiden sings along because he learned some of the songs in his Kindergarten class at the Christian school. Brendan draws/writes music. It’s mostly scribbles; however, he says they are songs. It’s cute.

This morning, he decided to take the pad out of my Bible and sit to write mommy a song. I thought it was the cutest thing in the world and, when I asked him what he was writing, he replied, “Jesus loves me.” I was so proud. He didn’t really write it – he doesn’t know his words yet. He scribbled as he sang.

I got a surprise package in the mail today! My dad mailed me his cap from when he was in the Navy. It’s his actual boot camp cap, nearly 50 years old, he says. I thought it was awesome and put it in a place of honor on my corner shelf in the living room (the shelf from my mom). It has patriotic stuff all over it, so the cap fit right in. How awesome is it to have a piece of my dad’s history!?

We went to the Farmer’s Market today and had a good time. Didn’t get nearly as much as we usually do. It was kind of bland today, like not many common vendors were there. After, we did go and pick up sticks for our little lady friend. She had a bunch, since we haven’t been there in two or so weeks. One weekend, we were camping. Another weekend, we went and there was a dog in the back yard next door (no fence), so we left.

We did a little light shopping and were going to go out to dinner except for one small problem: the boys didn’t get good naps and they were becoming holy terrors in the store we stopped in. That’s one thing I try to keep a handle on: if they aren’t feeling good (or over-tired), we don’t stay in stores and restaurants to further torment them. Of course, I guess it is a little easier for me, having a nanny. I can leave them home if need be when I need to do shopping. Aside from that, we did come home and I made pancakes for dinner – I had nothing else thawed – and they were not too bad. The best part was the pan I found to make them in. It was only $4 or so.

Yep. Spiderman. It puts an imprint of Spiderman on the pancakes – both sides! The boys loved them. I didn’t take pictures because I didn’t do the best at cooking them in the pan. It will take practice. I’ll post pictures real soon, when I try again and do a little better.

Speaking of pancakes, I did learn something tonight. If you buy a box of pancake mix and it says add water? Don’t add milk. It makes the pancakes burn faster. Yeah. It does. Ick.

Did I mention that we saw wolves at the East Entrance to Yellowstone Thursday? I have pictures but my camera did not take them very well. No, this is not like pictures of Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster. There really were wolves and we watched them romp and play and have a great time for awhile. The only problem is, they were roughly a mile away and my camera didn’t quite get a good picture.

It was awesome to see them. I only wish I could have gotten better pictures. The wolf has a special meaning for me and has since 1992. They were so beautiful.

The following is the introduction by a book by Carol Tennant. It is called, “Good Kitchen Magic” and it is a must-read for everyone, not just those of us wanting to return to the basics of good old 1950s living.

I quote the entire thing and hope to be forgiven. I am giving full credit for the following words to Carol Tennant.

“The cooking and sharing of a meal with family or friends is one of life’s great pleasures. And in our efforts to impress we seek out new and exotic ingredients to make more and more elaborate dishes. Bookshelves groan under the weight of the latest TV tie-ins featuring celebrity chefs, and their recipes can often lead to disappointment when we fail to ‘throw together a delicious meal with the minimum fuss’.

“But are we losing track of what is important? Yes, cooking is an art form, but it is based on a series of basic techniques that we then build on. In the not so distant past, the majority of these basic techniques were passed down from grandmother to mother to daughter. In our fast paced, multi-tasking age of equality, this link has been broken. Many of us will turn our hand to an exotic chicken curry, but may not know the correct way to roast a pork joint with crispy crackling or cook perfect rice.

“The aim of this book is to take you through those basic cookery techniques that will provide the stepping stones for you to move on and cook more advanced dishes. With the help of this book, you can gain the confidence to prepare traditional stuffed roast chicken with all the trimmings, to poach salmon, to bake wholemeal bread, and shortcrust pastry. And for anyone who usually reaches for the jars or bottles, there are recipes for a whole range of classic and popular sauces, such as apple, mint, tomato, and pesto. Also included are some more unusual dishes, such as fennel and cilantro (coriander) salad, and pasta and bean soup. Together, these recipes will provide a good repertoire of dishes for anyone interested in learning to cook successfully or improving their skills.

“Mastering the basics also allows you to take shortcuts – for example, if you can already make mayonnaise by hand, and can understand the basic method, you will be better equipped to know what to do if something goes wrong when you are making it using a food processor.

“Throughout this book, there are helpful tips, such as how to blind bake or make a bouquet garni, as well as rescue remedies to save the day when things go off course. Many of the recipes have variations that will allow you to expand your range gradually.

“Cooking doesn’t have to be complicated to impress. A simple, tasty, nutritious recipe prepared the correct way, and cooked at the right temperature for the right amount of time, will be praised and remembered long after the wine and conversation have dried up.”

Do you see why, first, I bought this book and, second, why I had to share the introduction? It speaks powerfully of today’s society. We do everything to impress and nothing of substance. Ok, not all of us! I speak in general here. Don’t you think we should concentrate back on the basics: feeding the family and making it enjoyable to do so rather than impressing with what we know and can do?

She speaks of learning the basics before tackling masterful pieces of eatery. I can concur with that. I’ve stopped trying new recipes. For the moment, I am concentrating on learning how to cook french toast, eggs over easy, bacon and other recipes in my cast-iron pan instead of relying on a griddle constantly. I might do very well with that and much more on the griddle but what I need to do is learn the basics: how to do it in a pan!

This is the fiasco this morning with stuffed french toast in a cast-iron pan on the stove:

It doesn’t look too bad in the picture but, trust me, they were a little crispy all over instead of just crispy on the edges. I’m learning how to do all that I can do – in a pan and not on the griddle. When I do that, I can take it camping and cook great meals easily and not fight with the pan the entire time.

That’s what I’m working on for getting back to the basics. How about y’all? Do you disagree with me? No harm, no foul if you do! Let me hear your opinions.

Thank you for listening,


Categories: Breakfast, Family, Other Stuff, Trips | Leave a comment

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