Monday, April 24, 2017

Domesticated Rats

When I was a young rat in junior high school, I had a choice of electives: foreign language, wood shop, home economics, art, or music.  What was an aspirational rat to choose?

Now that I am an older rat, I have a deep appreciation for the arts and all types of music.  I feel sorry for other rats whose minds are not simultaneously soothed and inspired by orchestral music.  Our local classical station is providing the soundtrack for retirement.  I still love me some good thrash metal - and thrash grass (basically bluegrass on steroids), anything but rap or really twangy country, but classical is a classic for a reason.

But I digress...

Electing to forgo home ec for music has had some negative implications in my ability to become a truly domesticated rat. 

My mother, God love her, has many talents, but cooking and sewing don't happen to be among them.  She has never been one for taking a recipe at its word.  That led to the banana bread incident that traumatized the backyard birds brave enough to sample it.

I grew up thinking French toast was bread, quartered and drawn through eggs, fried in oil till crunchy and served with salt, pepper, ketchup, and HP sauce - British steak sauce.  I loved it.  Still do.  Why King Rat hasn't developed an affinity for it is beyond me. Fortunately, he understands the wisdom of not criticizing the food set before him lest he be designated chef forevermore.

During a snow event a few years ago, I made Martha Stewart's sugar cookies.  I am sure they are in the compost pile somewhere, still in their original form.  I am my mother's daughter.  This was the final straw.  I had to learn how to cook.  I may not be a domestic goddess, but I am lordess of all things technology, so I turned to my friend the internet. That is where I discovered "Cooking Coarse" a YouTube cooking series by chef Todd Mohr from Cary, NC.  

Chef Todd assured me, recipes were merely guidelines and we should cook with our eyes. Given the family history of recipes as guidelines, my expectation for success was rather low. Not one to start out with the easy stuff, I started with his biscuit recipe. I could make edible biscuits, but never the fluffy, flaky, tall creations that made a young King Rat have fantasies about Martha White.  I'm sure he had a pinup of one of her flour sacks in his room.

Following Chef Todd's methods to the smallest detail, I made my first-ever batch of real, honest-to-goodness, Martha White-worthy biscuits.  King Rat bit into the first one and his eyes rolled back in his head and he moaned like nothing I'd ever heard before, at least in the kitchen anyway.  I knew I was on to something.

I spent the next few months watching all of the videos Chef Todd had posted.  I learned how to use knives, how to bake, what the heck mirepoix and mise en place meant, and so much more.  

Thanks to Chef Todd, I learned how to cook.  I can make things better and faster at home. We don't eat out as often, I've lost weight, and now I am beginning to share lessons with Mom.  

Chef Todd now has a web cooking channel, but you can still find some of his older videos on there.  Click on the "PLAYLISTS" menu heading.

Now, if Chef Todd could just teach me how to sew with a machine.

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