Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Kitchen Bitch

In response to a recent comment on the blog, I'm going to fill you all in on my cooking cred. I wasn't born-and-raised wealthy, just comfortably well off. My father was a dentist, as I think I've covered before, and my mother was a 'homemaker'. That actually used to be a job description. I'm an only child, and no, I wasn't lonely. I went to public schools, had tons of friends, and - bonus! - wasn't forced to share my beautiful pink bedroom with anyone.

My childhood was idyllic in lots of ways. My father was Armenian, like so many residents of the Fresno area, but my mother is French. Full-blooded, like with an accent and everything. She's an incredible cook. She taught me how to make a perfect white sauce just as soon as I was old enough to hold a wooden spoon. She can create a masterpiece with nothing more than eggs, butter, cream, flour and white pepper. Somewhere in my storage I have a few videos we made of me, as a sullen-but-compliant teenager, learning the finer points of various international cuisines. She was as proficient with Southern Chinese provencial cooking as with South Indian regional fare.

After my father died, she stopped cooking as much. She claimed it wasn't fulfilling without my dad to enjoy it. She did, however, give me our family's cookbook when I married Barney. Until the 1920's, when it was printed and leather-bound, it had consisted of various folders, notebooks, and loose pages, all handwritten and tied together with twine. I'm not sure what happened to the originals. I've used those recipies over and over, and shared many of them on my previous blog. Even though the book still sits in my kitchenette (or whatever you call that strip of wall with a sink, half-sized fridge, and two-burner stove that passes for a kitchen in this cramped little box), I rarely use it anymore. Besides the ingredients being cost-prohibitive (fresh black truffles? really?!), I haven't had the heart to cook much since the divorce. Like my mom, I suppose, I'd be happier cooking for someone who'd enjoy it. Barney never said he loved my cooking but he didn't routinely regurgitate it either.

So, back off Bitches! I've got a pastry-cutter and I know how to use it! Peace out.

Secrets to a Perfect White Sauce
There are but three things to remember when whipping up a white sauce:
1) Use an iron skillet.
2) Cook the flour in the butter until bubbly but not yet brown.
3) Heat the cream to just under a simmer then dribble it into the cooked flour mixture while whisking furiously until it is all incorporated. Cook until glossy - done and done!

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