Do you feel inspired when you watch cooking shows? Boy, they make it look so easy don’t they? All of the processes that turn an ordinary meal into something spectacular are really dependent on who stirs, minces and sautés them. I wanted to see if I could make some truly remarkable meals using all the information and tricks I’d gathered while watching midday cooking, so I sat down and wrote out a menu that would not only embrace the four food groups, but would put the gathering of family and friends back into my dining room. I began with something simple: hard boiled eggs. Now looking back on this project I can say that some of the things you need to make a meal successful are all of the ingredients, some good pots and pans, decent bakeware and a proper cooking apparatus. Unfortunately, I didn’t possess ANY of those things so my meals became mysterious adventures that only I could produce.
I didn’t have a pan deep enough to boil water so I just used a frying pan and moved the egg around to get it evenly cooked. When I took it out of the water, I spun it around on the counter. This is an old trick I learned when I was younger. A hard-boiled egg will spin if it’s done; if it’s not it will ‘wobble’. I gave my egg a spin and it twirled around the counter like a little ballerina! However, when I went to crack it open to make egg salad, it began to drip like a raw egg. I peeled it and found that only half of it was cooked (most likely the half that was submerged in water the longest) So much for the hard boiled eggs.
My next adventure was another supposedly simple food – spaghetti. Again, I didn’t have a pan deep enough to cook the spaghetti in, but I figured as long as it all got wet enough it should be okay. After a few minutes of boiling the water, I took the spaghetti and lowered it down into the pan. I kept pushing and pushing as it softened to fit it all in. By the time it was ready to come out, the bottom half was soft but the top half was crunchy. I had just made the first spaghetti whisk broom! I decided to move onto something more pre-prepared.
Surely I could make a box of potato flakes right? I even followed the directions (well, sort of) I didn’t have an actual measuring cup but I did find one that looked about right. I poured the flakes into the cup and sprinkled them into the pan of prepared water. I think I may have added too much because the flakes wouldn’t melt. They just sat in a big glob, floating like a sea of lava on top of the rest of the liquid. I tried stirring and fluffing with a fork, but some of the flakes just didn’t get done. I opted to toss the whole thing out and try again.
Again, I measured out the flakes into my little make shift measuring cup, but this time I’d be smart about it and only use half of what I’d used before. I poured the flakes into my liquid but they wouldn’t get thick. They were now more like a creamy, frothy soup. I needed to thicken them up a bit but was already out of flakes. I had heard somewhere that corn starch is a good thickener. I added some to the concoction and it began to thicken; thicker and THICKER. Now it was like a stiff wallpaper paste. I tried adding more milk but that only made it a bigger pot of stiff wallpaper paste.
…Fast forward a week. I am now on the couch watching television again, only this time it’s no more cooking shows for me. No. I decided to put my thick, pasty potatoes to good use. I’m watching Construction Know How, where this week’s episode is How to Grout a Bathtub.
From the book “Even God Hates Spinach” by Mari’ Emeraude
-Gayle M. Rodd
Mari’ Emeraude (Gayle M. Rodd) is a writer, poet and columnist from Denver, Colorado. She has written over 200 poems and columns and works part time as a freelance copywriter for a commercially based website. You can find this and other columns in her book Even God Hates Spinach, available here: