Today, I bring you a story that to me is pure embarrassment and laughter, but to you I hope will be encouragement. It is a post is for anyone who has ever done something stupid, not just in cooking but in life. It is for those who think they are incapable of cooking or baking, especially when you look at food blogs like this one. And, not only will it include a recipe, but also a tip on a great restaurant to check out next time you’re in Galena.
It is a story, yes, but it is also a reminder, mostly that when you make a very big mistake, you might as well laugh about it because, at the end of the day, even if you told nobody and got to hold your head a little higher, you’d still know the truth inside and then, you wouldn’t know the intimacy of being honest with people or hearing that they mess up sometimes too (yes, that is an invitation for you to share your stories), and that would be a great loss indeed. So here goes; when I say you’re going to love this one, I mean it.
And it all starts with Brussels sprouts. Read more…
When you tell people you’re spending the weekend in the quaint little town of Galena, particularly when it’s at a historic bed and breakfast, particularly when it’s at a historic bed and breakfast with your mom and your brother, particularly when it’s at a historic bed and breakfast with your mom and your brother in one room with two beds and hardwood floors so beautiful and old that they creak every time you step on them, well, no one knows how to react.
In fact, we didn’t know how to react either. Sometime in the middle of the weekend, Adam and I looked at each other and said, How did this whole weekend come to be, anyway? We remembered the back-and-forth e-mails of I’m-traveling-this-weekend-and-you’re-busy-next-and-looks-like-we’ll-have-to-go-near-Thanksgiving-will-that-work-for-you-and-when-did-we-become-people-who-are-busy-with-stupid-things-EVERY-SINGLE-WEEKEND-and-well-this-whole-thing-is-really-far-away-from-now-so-whatever-we’ll-worry-about-it-later, but we didn’t remember how they’d started to begin with.
I guess it must have started with Mom, who has been wanting to go out to Galena, to go antiquing, she said, which is something all three of us like now, even though at least two of us didn’t growing up, and, after we kids had arranged to have Friday off work and Mom had booked a place to stay, we drove three hours through farms and fields and sleepy little towns until we reached the top of northwest Illinois, where, oh boy, antiquing is exactly what we did. Read more…
This was supposed to be a recipe for an easy version of apple pie, or at least that was my intent when I started peeling and coring four Granny Smith apples at the counter last Wednesday night.
As part of my mission to avoid yet another kitchen disaster, I had been taking every possible easy route: choosing a simple recipe, peeling all the required apples in one step, doing that peeling while I was sitting down so as not to exert any unnecessary effort for something that might not turn out and not even using a printed recipe because I had memorized the basic steps from looking at them for so long, really analyzing whether or not I could trust this new combination of ingredients and steps and would it be worth the trouble? In most of life, this fragile attitude would be something to work through, but in this case, it really worked to my advantage.
Each time I’d finish peeling one of the apples, its curly green skins spread out on the cutting board in front of me, I’d plop its little body into the adjacent round casserole dish, keeping it from rolling away while also leaving the counter clean. And thing is, once I set that final apple into the dish, the four of them lined up next to each other like they were meant to stay that way, ready to be poached or roasted or something, it became crystal clear to me that these apples weren’t for a pie, but instead they had a different fate. I should bake them, bake them whole, stuffed with some sort of sugar and oats mixture that could get all hot and gooey inside and bubble on top and down the sides. It was so obvious.