Sunday, January 2, 2011

More Kitchen Capers

Ever since I did the Great Chicken Experiment, my kids often ask things like, "Are you doing another experiment on us?" or "Are you trying to give us salad every night until we tell you to stop?" Nothing like causing paranoia in your children.
Well recently Eric conducted a food experiment of his own. Last fall he went deer hunting and came home with two big, black garbage bags full of deer meat. I'm not a big fan of cooking or eating venison, so Eric said we were going to donate it. He put the meat in our deep freezer and I didn't think much about it.
Then one night last week Eric called to see what was for dinner. When I told him spaghetti, I didn't think twice about him saying he would fix it when he got home. See, if I am being perfectly honest here, Eric is probably a better intuit cook than I am. I can follow a recipe with the best of them and I can even change and doctor up a recipe fairly well, but Eric has more of a "kitchen whisperer" sense than I do. I have a bigger repertoire of what I can make than he does but that is just because I have to cook more often, but if all things were equal, he would beat me anyday in the cooking department. But don't tell him I admit this. I like to keep a psychological edge in my kitchen.
All of this is to say I wasn't surprised when Eric offered to make the spaghetti, especially spaghetti. Italian is his forte. If I ever invite you over for dinner, insist that Eric make italian. Anyway, Eric makes dinner and I move from head chef to sous chef. As good a cook as Eric is, he is a bit unrealistic about what he expects from his kitchen. I think he expects the cabinets to magically divine what ingredient he needs and move it to the front of the shelf right where his hand would reach for it. So this is where I come in when he is cooking. My place is not to question his methods or do the actual cooking. My place is to make sure all the ingredients are within quick reach of his hand. I've never been in an OR, but I can imagine that the set-up in our kitchen is very similar to a doctor asking the nurse for a scalpel during surgery, except without the masks. Mine is a supporting role, not a life-saving role.
So after we have conducted this life-saving task of making spaghetti for our family and have enjoyed the fruits of our labor, Eric asks everyone, "So can you guess the secret ingredient in the spaghetti tonight?" I knew immediately what is was not because of the taste of the spaghetti, but because the one ingredient I hadn't divined for Eric was the meat. It was deer meat. I was honestly surprised because I couldn't taste the difference at all. I think if I ate the meat straight, like in a hamburger, I could taste the difference, but because it was in a sauce it tasted just fine. In fact we have been so impressed with this deer meat that we have made sloppy joes and chili with it and they have both been fantastic.
So my cooking club may have to watch out. Last year I fed them fish and this year they may just get deer!