15 September 2008

I am not a cook ...

Dear Mandella,

As we've discussed in the past, I am not a cook. Well, I am not a cook the way my mother, my husband, and (it seems) nearly everyone else on the planet is. My mother could take a can of peas and turn it into a full dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes & gravy, creamed peas, and roasted carrots. My husband picks up a book of exotic recipes (usually something from Central or South America), starts substituting ingredients, and comes up with a rolled flank steak and cheesy-tomoto covered potatoes that even I will eat.

Me? Well, I start with a case of hives at the mere thought of having to cook, then I usually fall back on the one or two recipes I've remembered, or else I go through a zillion recipe books before I give up and go for the microwaved panini. I've tried more complicated recipes and have usually failed. (In college, a friend who had graduated from the Culinary Institute of America tried to talk me through a simple way of cooking chicken breasts and I ended up with something bland nonetheless.)

Oh, thank God, for Cheerios and the Jolly Green Giant. For dinner I broiled chicken breasts, made steamed rice, and microwaved a pre-seasoned vegetable medley. Steamed rice is a no-brainer for me (1 part rice to 2 parts water, bring it to a boil then shut it down to simmer for about 20 minutes). Green Giant microwave vegetable packs are nice little two-serving packs of vegetables in three mixtures: Healthy Weight, Immunity Boost, and Healthy Vision. (We had Immunity Boost, for obvious reasons.) OK, two down and one to go.

For the chicken breasts I got (brace yourself) creative. I crunched up Honey Nut Cheerios and dumped them into a deep bowl with garlic powder, basil, sage, marjoram, black pepper, and celery seed, and maybe something else but I've forgotten now what all it was. Anyway, excepting the sage, I pretty much just sprinkled a healthy covering over the grains in the bowl and mixed them in. Then I beat an egg (yes, a whole egg, not just the whites) with some skim milk. I cut up my skinless, boneless chicken breasts into sections, then one hand dipped them in the milk/egg mixture and the other hand rolled them liberally in the seasoned Cheerios. I baked them (uncovered) on the broiler pan at 350ยบ (I have no idea what the equivalent is outside the USA, but it's kind of an all-purpose baking temperature so far as I recall) for 30 minutes.

And it was all done at the same time!

To add to the festivities, I cleared my dye stuff from the dining table and actually set up two place mats with plates and cutlery, napkins, and real glasses. This is the first time in I-don't-know-how-long that we've eaten at the table. The food was placed in serving dishes (no, I didn't succumb to just serving them from the vessels in which they were cooked) and then placed on the table. It was almost like dining out. If we could have bribed a neighbor kid to top in and say things like, "Hi, I'm Brad and I'll be your waiter" and "Are you done with that, or do you want to graze a bit more?" and "Can I interest you in some dessert tonight?", well, then it would have been perfect, but you can't have everything.

But if you try sometimes, you'll get what you need. (Thank you, Mick Jagger.)

Hugs and good cooking to you!



Anonymous said...

cool - cheerio chicken!
love the blog....will be visiting from time to time.
db from AZ

Lady Euphoria Deathwatch said...

Hi Judith and Mandella,

I love the new blog. I feel like a friend sitting in the corner sipping my tea and watching really good friends interact.

Thank you for letting me visit. I hope the blog lasts a long time.

Good luck and have a great day to you both.

Sincerely, Lady Euphoria