Tuesday, October 11, 2005

My Home Ec Teacher Would Be Horrified

At 4:00 p.m., I wiggled a stack of recipe cards from the box I've had since I was a teen. I decided to make Taco Soup and . . . muffins. Yes, those "Corny Corn Muffins" I like so well from my favorite cookbook, Jane Brody's Good Food Book.

There on page 600. I turn the oven on to preheat to 425 degrees. First ingredient, wheat flour. I have that! I measure out a cup. I feel smug about making homemade muffins for dinner. Next ingredient, corn meal. I reach the top shelf and pull down my box. I wonder how long it's been up there, so I sniff. Rancid. Blech. I sniff again, just in case. Still rancid.

I throw the box away. Hmmm, what could I use instead? I know! Oatmeal, that steel-cut stuff I got from Trader Joe's. Yes, that will give a similar texture, I think. I measure out a cup. Then I add baking powder, salt and sugar.

Next ingredient, 2 eggs. I get them out, along with the . . . oops. No milk. Well. What can I use as a substitute? I stand and stare, willing milk to appear. I finally decide to use sour cream, so I plop half a cup into the measuring cup and add water until it reaches the one cup mark. I melt three tablespoons of butter.

Last ingredient? Corn. Please, please, please, I think, let there be corn. I don't have the creamed corn the recipe calls for (who buys that stuff?), but I have one can of regular corn. I measure out a cup.

I mix everything together--just until moistened, as directed and scoop the muffin tin full.

My daughter ate a bite and said, "Ewww. I don't like it." She ate Cheerios for dinner. My 7-year old took a bite and said, "Uh. I don't want it." My blue-eyed boy gave me a sympathy vote and said, "They're good with butter." My other son made himself macaroni and cheese.

I thought they were good, but then again, I never met a muffin I didn't like. Next time, maybe I'll check to see if I have the main ingredients before I start cooking. Or not. It's so much more challenging to cook without the stuff you need.

I am reminded of my stepmother's cooking. She once made us peanut-butter-tuna-fish sandwiches, but we didn't have to eat them because she burned them while broiling them. And I also remember the cake she made for my sister's birthday cake one year. She burned the chocolate while making frosting, so the cake had a frosting top, but naked sides.

I consider myself a good cook under normal circumstances and I enjoy cooking. But I do not enjoy cooking while being interrupted. I do not enjoy noise while I cook. I do not enjoy the limitations of my family's eating habits. My husband grew up in Houston, drinking Coca-Cola for breakfast and eating delicacies like Frito-Pie and brisket sandwiches. He doesn't really care for vegetables, pasta, anything involving eggs--unless they are fried--muffins, vegetarian cuisine, pork, salads . . . and he's lactose intolerant, so dairy products are problematic. He also prefers that I avoid red meat as it hurts his stomach. He doesn't like cornbread, biscuits, muffins or scones.

My children have their own quirks. One isn't fond of meat. One hates potatoes. None of them like their food mixed together (aka casseroles).

I like to cook, but I like an appreciative audience. My sons tend to ask, "What's for dinner?" and then respond, "Ewwww." I know. I should have nipped that in the bud, but I haven't, so I generally respond, "Monkey guts and pig eyeballs. With a side of elephant tails and bat eyelashes."

And now, in closing, I'd like to explain what I believed a "taco" was when I was growing up. My mother hailed from North Dakota, the daughter of a Swede who taught me to eat pickled herring and pickled pigs' feet. (Yum.) My father's people came from the Netherlands and landed in Wisconsin. We're pale folks from the North.

So, my mother's version of a taco was this. Take one soft corn tortilla. Microwave it until it's floppy. Fill with fried hamburger which you have lovingly seasoned with salt. Sprinkle with cheese, shredded lettuce, diced dill pickles and then cover the whole mess with ketchup. If you are extremely adventurous, squirt one drop of Tabasco sauce in the center. Fold and eat.

My husband grimaces everytime I mention this, which means I bring it up once a year at least.


Blogger Maryanne said...

In my family we call creations like your muffins "old family recipies". As in, five minutes old. My grandma used to use vanilla ice cream as a substitute for milk in recipies, and once used mangoes to replace avacado in a chip dip. I wish I had her feel for food, I never deviate from the recipie or disaster awaits.

10:04 PM  
Blogger Krisco said...

I'm with Maryanne. I can't deviate. I have no idea what each ingredient is actually there *for* (it seems there's a reason - some mysterious, foodish type reason - like "bitter" or "sweet" or "rising" or "glue"- that I am completely not privy to) - so if I don't have it, I'm not making it.

Hello frozen vegie burgers! : ) (Luckily Little Big Girl thinks those actually ARE hamburgers....)

12:49 AM  
Blogger ellipsis... said...

I really like you but I think that had I been a dinner guest, I, of course would not have said it out loud, but in my mind I would have been with the kids on this one:"Ew."

Corn muffins. Yes, I think the key word here is "corn," As in "meal." I keep mine in the freezer, it lasts asts much longer.

Tonight I am making my famous chicken pot pie, which only uses one crust on the top. Want the recipe? (You must include chicken).
Lorrie :)

6:27 AM  
Blogger tlawwife said...

The advantage of children are picky eaters is that it is a little bit of a relief when they go to college. I used to keep the freezer stocked with 98 cent frozen pizza for the son who I could only cook for about every other day. When he was little we made him eat it, but by the time they are in high school they aren't going to change. The husband is a different story. Luckily for me as long as he has a piece of meat and a potato mine is happy.

7:23 AM  
Blogger WordsRock said...

My son would eat anything I put in front of him. He takes after his father that way.

I wonder if your Texan husband enjoys his eggs fried the same way my Texan wife does? She also introduced me to brisket sandwiches. She, like The Boy, will eat just about anything I put in front of her.

Picky eaters sure make the cooks job hard!


10:19 AM  
Blogger M3 (Mary-Mia) said...

Oh my god, you mean my Houston-born-and-raised husband wasn't just pulling my leg when he told me that they all have Coke for breakfast and eat that mess called Frito Pie? I thought he was just using that as an excuse.

Am in shock. Need to go rethink things...

10:45 AM  
Blogger Michelle said...

I have to say that was quite adventurous! Maybe even a little yucky sounding too! LOL But you have spunk and that's gotta count for something :)

12:40 PM  
Blogger Judy said...

If I can't throw it all into one pot, either a soup pot or a crock pot, I'm not likely to make it.

I never mastered the art of getting everything done at the same time.

1:13 PM  
Blogger Sis said...

This entry cracked me up....your hilarious :)

I wanted to add...I am the one who buys the creamed corn...but not intentionally. I need to pay attention while shopping the canned veggies aisle. I see yellow and toss it in my cart. Do you know who ends up with it all? Our FoodBank. I bet homeless people don't like creamed corn either and they curse the person who donated 65 cans of it at one time.

4:16 PM  
Blogger Vashti said...

I'm impressed that you came up with all of those substitutions. I probably would have ate them but then there's not much in the way of food that I'll turn down!

6:38 PM  
Blogger Chelsea said...

My husbands Danish and Swedish.

I am amazed that you said casseroles instead of the traditional scandinavian "hot dish".

Do you know what lutefisk dinners are?

6:55 PM  
Blogger Christi said...

If it makes you feel any better, we can't even manage to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in our house! My hubby went to make them for lunch today, and he opened the bread to find it all molded. What is up with that!

Anyway, we ended up having to have a complicated chicken nuggets and pasta salad and corn on the cob instead!

7:45 PM  

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