I didn’t go shopping on Black Friday, but I did see the coverage on TV. It was nothing but huge crowds of people pushing, shoving and trampling each other. I told Mary Ellen it was deplorable that children had to watch adults behave this way before I realized it was the wrong channel. I was watching some disgruntled soccer fans.
The only thing I hate more than shopping is cooking, but I needed to do something to get me in the holiday spirit. Why not prepare a meal for my family? I have never been much of a chef. I don’t have the patience to put in a dash of this and a pinch of that. My wife knew this before we got married. Right after our first date she complained to a friend I had no dash at all. She did notice the pinch, however. Women are very sensitive.
In our kitchen, stacked up against the wall, we have about 50 cooking magazines with titles like Bon Appetit, Cooking Light, Cook’s Illustrated, Saveur, and Vegetarian Times. Most of these publications try to lure us in with words like “easy, quick, fast, simple, or no hassle.” I’ve never seen these words on the cover of Cosmo, but I have seen the word saucy.
Another way the editors entice us is with the name of the recipe. For example: chicken and artichokes. Two ingredients, right? How simple. I looked carefully at the ingredients. The dish should have been named “chicken with artichokes and thyme and vinegar and mustard seed and garlic, and black pepper and cilantro and cumin, and chili pepper and olive oil, and a sliver of orange rind and several spices no one has ever heard of.”
I don’t know what these people consider simple. The average “simple” recipe had (and, yes, I did count) about 14 ingredients. There’s also a great deal of coating, covering, shredding, simmering, combining, peeling and pulverizing. One recipe required a mortar and pestle. This was a prescription for failure.
I saw one entry titled Auntie Edna’s Roast Chicken. Turns out I needed daikon, radicchio, cremini mushrooms, orzo, a cup of panko, and some gnocchi. I don’t even know if all that stuff is available in North America, but it does seem like a terrible thing to do to a perfectly good chicken.
I was tempted by one recipe called Cinco de Mayo. I didn’t read everything that was in it, but anything that has five times the normal amount of mayonnaise has to be pretty tasty. There was also one called Beer Raised Beef. I’ve never had a problem with the grain fed or grass fed variety, but this did seem like a way better idea than marinating the meat after you buy it. I’m sad to report that I misread it. It was actually beer braised beef. Apparently, I need more recipes containing carrots.
I decided all this prep was way too much trouble, but I had promised to make dinner that evening. When my wife called later that day, I told her what I was planning for our meal.
“Oh my goodness,” she said, “are you really serving that complicated chicken dish with all those herbs and spices?”
“Yes, that’s what we’re having.” I said proudly. And there was a Colonel of truth in what I said.