Obviously some viewers find this scenario entertaining. For me, arguing and yelling is too much like a typical day in an office, and one of the reasons I started cooking in the first place was to get away from work-related stress. That said, there are a handful of helpful cooking hints I’ve learned by trial and error in recent years, and I present them here in their entirety:
•There are few things I hate worse than watery food, and most recipes go way too heavy on liquid for me. I reduce the suggested amount of water or broth by at least one-third. When your dish is done, if it seems a tad dry you can always add liquid.
•If you’re cooking something in an oven at a temperature any higher than a warm day at the beach, beware. Period. The chemistry of food behaves differently when the food’s being watched than when it isn’t, as the old proverb about the watched pot instructs us. Timers are all well and good, but the only way to be 100 percent safe and not burn something is to pull up a folding chair by the stove and observe through the oven’s little glass door as the cooking process unfolds. (You can listen to some music on your iPod, if you’re in the mood. “Hot Blooded” by Foreigner is one of my favorites for this, as is “Hot Fun in the Summertime” by Sly and the Family Stone, but your mileage may vary. If you’d like, you can pretend that you’re meditating while you watch the oven because, by the time the food is cooked you may well be in The Zone.)
•Cooking is not for wimps. And if you go through an ingredient list and see that a recipe calls for 1/8th teaspoon of so-and-so (or even worse, 1/16th teaspoon, or a “pinch” or a twinkle or whatever nonsense), you know that whoever wrote the recipe has problems with commitment — to, say, an actual flavor. In my experience, it’s hard to taste less than a quarter teaspoon of anything by the time it gets stirred through an entire recipe, then cooked to boot. So if less than a quarter is called for, I round it up to a quarter. Bingo.
So, that’s about the sum of my self-taught culinary skills. Or as the French say, “Voila!” And “Bon appetit!” which means, be sure to remove the bone from your appetite before proceeding. At least, I think I heard that on one of the cooking shows.
Dale Short is a native of Walker County. His columns, books, photos and radio features are available on his website carrolldaleshort.com. His weekly radio program “Music from Home” airs each Sunday at 6 p.m. on Oldies 101.5 and is archived afterward on his website.