1612 The Joy of Cooking
Quick quiz (and no peaking, now): The Joy of Cooking is
- A famous cookbook with about a million pages and type so small you need a microscope to read it.
- A concept that exists only in the minds of people with too much time on their hands.
- An excuse or reason to try all kinds of new stuff.
- All of the above.
The correct answer is D. But the most important of the correct answers is B.
The book is heavy enough to use as a weapon. It’s heavy enough to use as a paperweight in a hurricane. It’s strict enough (as dictionaries once were) so that you feel guilty if you substitute cubed eggplant for cubed chicken in a salad recipe without its express permission. And the book isn’t talking.
We are becoming obsessed with food. While half the world is starving, we’re wondering whether we have enough of the proper croutons.
On the other side of the aisle here in the Congress of Home Cooks, are the TV chefs. They’re like hippies, some of them.
Ever see Rachael Ray measure anything?
Ever see Wolfgang Puck do a dish in which the final ingredient isn’t “whatever you like” or “whatever you want?”
These guys don’t need to crack a book. (They also don’t need to clean up after the messes they make, but that’s another story for another time.)
All this is leadin to the other night at the Wessays™ Secret Mountainside Experimental Kitchen, where the dish of the night was mac and cheese with ham and mushrooms.
Sounds easy enough. Boil up some Mac, throw some milk in a pot add cheese as it heats, cube up a little ham, cut up a bunch of baby bellas and combine. Maybe some onion and a little garlic, “if you want,” as Wolfgang would say.
Stir on the stovetop then bake awhile until a crust develops.
When something is to be baked “for awhile,” you have to keep a close watch or make sure there’s a fire extinguisher nearby… and as a backup for real disaster, a Little Caesar’s or Chipotle (if you want to live dangerously) nearby.
How does it happen that a simple recipe, far too simple for anything in the “Joy” book, ends up producing two sinks full of used bowls, cups, spatulas, plates, forks and spoons plus a pot and cover, four cheese-encrusted burner drip pans (out of a possible four) and two cheese graters?
By some act of the heavens, it tasted okay. And like most “simple one dish meals” it took a mere 90 minutes to prepare and an hour to clean up.
We’ve ordered one of Wolfgang’s pressure cookers for next time. And we’ve blocked the TV channel that carries Rachael.
As for the “Joy” book? It’s in the pile of stuff we plan to take to Goodwill.
“Foul play is suspected.” -- unidentified Nassau County, NY police office describing the death of a woman found bound hand and foot in her bed with a pillow on her face in the Long Island hamlet of Merrick.
I’m Wes Richards. My opinions are my own but you’re welcome to them. ®
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© WJR 2016