A Moment of Pondering – It’s what’s for dinner

No recipes or photos in this entry, but hopefully I’ll be good this week and upload a post about white bread and Chinese dessert soup. Uh, and also some bread that I made, adapting an Andrew Whitley recipe.

Anyway, I’ve been wondering where my love of kitchens and cooking comes from recently.

I don’t know about you, but I spent a lot of time in the kitchen while growing up – most often, not related to cooking purposes. I think my earliest memory might be of lining up the kitchen chairs, lying down on them, and watching PBS (Sesame Street, Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, or maybe the Electric Company) while on my makeshift couch. (yes, there was a small television in my childhood kitchen.) I did other things in my kitchen too. I learned to iron; I played with clay; I’d sit at the table with my favorite tape player in hand, recording my voice as if I were part of a radio show. I’ve probably practiced my violin in the kitchen back in the day.

Even when I became a teenager, I was in the kitchen a lot. I never worked at my desk – homework was always done at the kitchen table where I could spread out as much as I liked. I’d even do my sewing projects there.

You’re probably wondering how my family got any cooking done if I was always hogging space. There’s a simple answer. We had two kitchens! The first floor kitchen was the clean kitchen, the kitchen for breakfast and lunch and hanging out. The downstairs kitchen was were my mother did her real cooking, the dirty cooking. The downstairs kitchen was where the smell of food clung to the walls long after my mom was done stir-frying away.

I realize that some of my favorite books are heavy on the kitchen love – like “Kitchen” by Banana Yoshimoto, which I first read in college. Speaking of my cooking development, I was probably more influenced by “Jane of Lantern Hill” by L. M. Montgomery, which I read as a child.

Actually, I re-read “Jane of Lantern Hill” just this week. If Jane were a real girl in today’s society, she’d probably have her own food blog and checking Foodgawker and Tastespotting daily, like I do. What can I say – It’s fun to throw things together, create something yummy, and feeding your friends and family in the meantime.

Speaking of throwing things together, that’s what I did for dinner tonight: salmon en papillote and a veggie soup. The salmon worked out great, if a bit slightly overcooked because I got paranoid. I put the salmon on top of mixed mushrooms, threw in a couple cloves of garlic, a few thin slices of onion on top, and drizzled with sesame oil. In the parchment pouch, I also put in some bok choy (I think the variety I used is called Tatsoi). Next time, I think I’ll leave the choy out. While it tasted fine, having been baked for longer than it needed, it got very chewy.

But the combination of mushrooms, garlic, and salmon was quite pleasing. I’ll have to do it again. I recommend peeling the garlic before putting in the pouch. That way, when all is said and cooked, you can easily spread the garlic on top of the salmon, like butter.

Probably the hardest part of making fish en papillote is folding the corners of the parchment paper. That alone took me about three tries before it looked right and stayed in place.

As for the veggie soup, it was chicken broth, canned tomatoes, red kidney beans, kale, thin slices of chayote squash, dried basil, dried oregano, onion, garlic, and green peppers. Sounds great, right? It was good but just didn’t have the full flavor that I enjoy. I think I might serve with parmesan cheese when I re-heating the leftovers. It probably needed a tad more salt. (Weird factoid about me – I rarely taste while cooking. If I’m not following a recipe, I do things by sight or by visualization.)

So yeah…

Share a kitchen related memory with me if you want to. Or tell me about your favorite cooking book that’s not actually about cooking whatsoever. If all else fails, feel free to let me know what you had for dinner, whether it was a winner or a bust.

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One thought on “A Moment of Pondering – It’s what’s for dinner

  1. I recommend the book The Book of Salt by Monique Truong http://www.amazon.com/Book-Salt-Novel-Monique-Truong/dp/0618304002 It is a novel about a Vietnamese cook who winds up working in the home of Alice B Tolkas and Gertrude Stien. I really enjoyed it.

    As for cooking memories, I have vague memories of my mother canning tomatoes and making sausage from scratch. I remember she took a pasta making class and tried making pasta from scratch too. I have a memory of helping her make meatloaf by squishing the eggs into the ground beef with my hands.

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