Monday, February 15, 2010
A Necessary Mess
For some reason, I am a glutton for punishment. When I choose a recipe, do I select one that has 3 or 4 ingredients, uses 1 pan, and takes 30 minutes? Oh no. I have the incredible skill of choosing the most difficult way to use the most peculiar ingredients, utilizing at least one pan per ingredient. And, to add to the insanity, I'll take on 2 or 3 of these recipes at the time.
An example of this was supper last night. Our menu included baked acorn squash, asparagus with mushrooms & shallots, and glazed pork chops. The acorn squash was not a big deal - one main ingredient, several spices.
The asparagus got a little more ambitious. Let's see slice shallots into thin slices and saute until brown and crisp. Add thinly sliced crimini mushrooms. All the while, steam asparagus, for no more than 10 minutes, saving some of the water in reserve. On the other side, mix the topping for the squash.
Now, while I am softening the squash, steaming the asparagus, sauteing the shallots, I start making the glaze. OK, we are now at 2 pots, a saute pan, a baking dish, and a bowl for the glaze. Its time to pull out a 12 inch skillet (for the pork chops).
Score the sides of the pork chops, season and brown. Remove the asparagus from the steamer, saving the water. Add the mushrooms to the shallots. I'll stop boring you now. By the time I am through, I have utilized 2 pots, 3 pans, 1 dish, 3 bowls, God knows, how many measuring spoons & cups, various utensils, prep bowls, and an electronic thermometer.
Is this all necessary? Of course not. But there is something so cathartic in the chaos of cooking, in the balancing act of 2 skillets and a saute pan going on at once, at the sizzle and the steam, and the mess. Yes, the mess is part of it. Show me a cook in a neat kitchen and I'll show you frozen meal boxes in the trash.