Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Life Lessons from the Kitchen

Here are a few life lessons I’ve learned in my cooking recently that seem worth sharing:

1. Despite the fact that they are the same color, cayenne pepper is not a good substitute when the recipe calls for a decorative dusting of paprika and you happen to be out of that particular spice.

2. If you happen to under-boil an egg, and discover its under-cooked-ness only after slicing it in half, you should not put the halves in a bowl and microwave it. The egg will literally explode and create a mess so enormous that the thought of cleaning it up is cause for mild-to-moderate despair.

3. If you’ve married wisely, your husband will peer over your shoulder at the vile microwave and say, “Don’t worry about it. I’ll clean it up.”

4. Despite what your farmer’s market cookbook says, a paste of food-processed lettuce leaves does not make a tasty sandwich spread. In fact, it’s much like eating mouthfuls of grass clippings.

5. No matter how delicious the end result, it’s hard to make a good case for hovering over a hot stove making risotto when the temperatures are in the high-80s, even if it is the Pope’s Risotto, a recipe you found in the Times.

6. It’s fun to say “Dinner’s almost ready!” and watch your husband’s face sink in horror as you toss a pile of cabbage leaves into a pot of boiling water, as though it’s a kind of witch’s brew. (It’s not. It’s stuffed cabbage, and you will both enjoy the meal.)

7. Uncooked beans are not a good substitute for cooked, canned beans when you’re trying to make dinner. You may have known this, and even soaked the beans for several hours, and had strong suspicions that the beans were simply not going to soften no matter how much you boiled them; and you may have implicitly understood that continuing to boil the bean-and-leek soup would rob the leeks of all their flavor; and yet you will still feel unreasonably angry when you must throw an entire pot of soup in the trash.

8. Aioli is more involved than simply mashing together garlic and olive oil. See previous post, “An Attempt at Aioli.”

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