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Cooking & Screaming

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Burnt to the bottom. The saucepan of macaroni and cheese was launched like a frisbee out the back sliding door. This is the first memory I have of making dinner.

Before the 2020 Quarantine, my interest in cooking was just a study of overdue library cookbooks that I read with fervor while eating lunch meat from a bag. When the covid-19 pandemic forced us to shudder in, I began with roasting nuts- inspired by two toddlers and a husband that randomly goes vegan.

Let’s Go Nuts

  • Preheat oven 350 degrees
  • Line cookie sheet with parchment paper
  • Toss raw almonds or walnuts in olive oil, brown sugar, nutmeg and toast for about 10 minutes or until fragrant
  • shake em’ up a bit halfway through

*inspired by “Perfect Recipes for Having People Over” (Anderson, Pam)- but since we can’t do that, eat them all yourself!

My quest to make edible food became a kind of compulsion. And best of all- I could mix and flip things while drinking wine. Sure, my timing wasn’t always perfect. I have a great recipe for a 9 o’ clock Pork Loin! But I found cooking connected and grounded me in ways that also fed my wellbeing.

Me: How will I know when the pierogies are done?

My Dad: I can’t believe you’re starting this recipe at 7pm.

Not even half of my Gramma's family pierogie recipe... Lol!

I guess I discovered somewhat later in life what many people already knew; cooking is caring. And also to check how many servings your recipe makes. For instance, my Gramma Mary’s pierogies serve 102.

(Sorry, family secret, but I’d love to make them for you ALL sometime!)

Along with the time-honored traditions of Polish foods and the pizza dough flops that morphed into pastries, I’ve learned the most valuable ingredient for any home cook is being adaptable.

For instance, when the best of my efforts end up feeding the trash can, I know it’s time to go On Tour- a fun way of saying, everyone get in the car, I’m getting a coffee while we drive to your grandparents’ houses and wave from the driveway.

I also found a way to make peace with macaroni & cheese, even if it’s not the way everyone thought it should be.

Mac and Cheese, Sort Of

  • Organic Green Lentil Penne (8 oz. box) prepared according to directions
  • ⅓ c. Heavy cream
  • ½ - ¾ c. Cheddar Cheese grated
  • Salt & Pepper to taste

Add heavy cream, salt and cheddar cheese to prepared lentil penne while hot! Then, grate more cheddar and add s&p to serve.

*The secret is in the penne which most children will spit out. If yours don’t, let me know!

*Pairs well with cheap boxed wine and a showing of “Frozen” to distract kids from penne.

Tip: If anyone complains, take them On Tour.

In addition to counting on family, I also learned that kindness is out there- sometimes in the form of a neighbor bringing you ground beef, tapping it to your stomach and walking away with a wink. (I’m not crying; you’re crying). 

Cooking paves a way for us to share what we have and build a longer table. Hopefully the food we put on it falls somewhere between 'okay' to gourmet and not whipped toward the wall from the youngest (ahem, harshest) food critics among us.

Keep stirring and slicing! 

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1 Comment Add a Comment?


Ovenden Lisa

Posted on Nov. 16, 2021, 8 p.m.

Good one Ash, keep on, keepin' on. I promise you'll get to the point where you'll rarely, if ever, throw anything out. And remember, unless you're baking, most recipes are "guidance"...not etched in stone!❤

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