June 27, 2012

Notes from a Recent Culinary Master

            I did it!  I did it!  I finally did it! 

I’ve done it!  I’ve done it!  I’ve finally done it! 

I finally made something that my daughter deemed edible!         

Believe me, this seemingly simple feat took more than a little doing. 

An historically finicky eater, in the past months, my daughter has ruled out numerous foods, packaged, nature made, and homemade alike, all of which were apparently non pleasing to her own personal, and evidently very sophisticated palate. 

Avocado?  No.  Guacamole?  No.  Grapes?  No.  Prunes?  A resounding, and surprising, success.  Chicken?  Turkey?  Rice and beans?  No, all. 

And, naturally, on and on the process went.

It took months, but this Recent Culinary Master (nee Paterfamilias) finally figured out what his daughter liked to eat, most notably mac and cheese, and vegetable lasagna with beef, both packaged, both store-bought, and, frankly, both a little pricey. 

So, to cut down on our overhead, as well as to satisfy my own culinary arrogance, I decided that I would start making these two dishes my own self, in my own kitchen, with my own hands. 

Because how hard could it be?  It’s mac and cheese and lasagna for God’s sake.  It’s not like I’m trying to make duck confit with fresh morel mushroom, parmesan, and asparagus risotto, followed by a wild blackberry cobbler, and all accompanied with a nice little cabernet sauvignon from my own personal vineyards. 

My first go ‘round was something of a disaster, on both counts.  She literally clawed the spoonfuls of homemade food out of her mouth and discarded it off to the side with an enthusiasm that said, “I would care for no more of whatever that was, thank you very much.” 

My second attempt fared no better. 

What was I doing wrong?  Was this really beyond my cooking ken? 

My first idea was to eliminate one of my menu items. 

Mac and cheese was the one to get the boot. 

Next, I more closely examined her store-bought food.  It was saucier than mine, much saucier in fact, so I decided to double what my original recipe had originally called for.  I also chose to cut out the baking entirely (Ciao, lasagna!) and a whole wheat fusili got the upgrade.  She, of the picky palate, seemed to prefer food of more flavor, so to the ground beef sizzling in the skillet, I added pepper and oregano and garlic powder and fresh basil, and after finishing the sauce and adding it to the pasta, I then pulsed all of the ingredients together, in batches, in my trusty old food processor.  And then I served the dish, warm and with crossed fingers. 

The first two mouthfuls were immediately rejected, but then her skepticism abated and she gave it a shot and she gave it a swallow and she gave it a thought, and then what do you know, she decided she could stomach it. 

Success!  I am a cooking genius!  I can get a one-year-old to (sometimes) eat food!  What a provider I must be!  How highly she of the picky palate must consider me!  How fortunate, and superior, she must feel to be blessed with such an excellent caregiver! 

And, daily, I witness her obvious sense of pride and good fortune for her dear father as she gazes at me with those big giant blue eyes, and then laughs, maniacally, right in my face.  


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