Friday, September 25, 2009

Cooking Woes

I was a very fortunate child. I had loving parents, a brother who was, on occassion, very nice to me, a good education, friends and best of all: excellent food. Now I know everyone says their mother is a great cook but it would be an understatement to say that about my mom's food. She is a great cook, even her "don't have a lot of time for a fancy meal" dinners were fresh and delicious--I am 22 years old and the closest I've gotten to a box of Hamburger Helper is at the Supermarket. My mom even went to culinary school after our move to Minnesota, perhaps just to reinforce her kitchen-god status--so my line of thought has always been: Why learn to cook when you live with a chef?! And her culinary talent was not passed down to me, maybe Jack got those genes...

I know a few au pairs that have to do all the cooking for their children and/or family and luckily my job doesn't require me to do that. I have had to, or offered to (why?!) cook a few times for the kids. Here are a couple of my culinary feats, or should I say defeats:

-Anna called one day and said she was running late so could I start dinner? No problem, I thought, until she got to the part of the menu that said "fried potatoes." I'm sorry what was that? You want me to fry something? Well I figured it couldn't be too difficult since there are tons of kids younger than me working at McDonald's all over the world... right? I put some oil (olive) into a pan (frying, naturally) and let it heat up. Sliced some potatoes and thought "Hey this isn't so bad!" The real trouble started when I put those potato slices into the pan with the hot oil... Sure the potatoes came out fine--crispy and fried--but it was on that day that I learned a valuable lesson. Wear an apron. It was a beautiful summer day and I decided to wear a Lilly Pulitzer skirt (you can take the girl out of Denison...)--I know I'm too old for Lilly but it was just this once--well once those potatoes hit that oil the oil started to hit me... RIP Skort.

-Another day a couple weeks ago I decided to try and make cookies. My history with cookies in America hasn't been so great and the trend continued in Switzerland. (Ellen you know what I'm talking about) Well they all sort of melted together and then turned into hard slabs of sugar--the kids really liked them though! Anna said the flour is different in Europe so I might have to try using a European recipe for cookies--I think I'll just wait for Allison's!

-I was cooking a Rösti, a typical Swiss dish which is essentially hash browns (don't worry it came from a package) in a pan. And the directions and pictures on the back of the bag said after eight minutes one can just flip the frying pan over and the hash browns will be golden brown and perfect--not so. I think I lost half in the flipping process and the other half were stuck to the pan...

-Last but certainly not least: what I like to call the "New Jersey special" mashed potatoes from a box. Will asked me to put some water on for mashed potatoes and silly me I put a huge pot of water to boil the potatoes... When he asked why I boiled such a large pot of water and I responded for the mashed potatoes he laughed, got out the BOX (mom you can gasp here) and proceeded to make them from a box. Now my dad grew up with mashed potatoes from a box but they were never allowed in our house, but you know what dad? They weren't half bad!

I have a few other cooking woes but this post is getting a bit long already! The last thing is a funny story that happened just last night. I am very fortunate because these kids love vegetables, I have yet to have an argument with them about eating their food (except sometimes I have to tell Stephanie to eat more pasta or something before she can have more salad/vegetables/etc). Last night I asked Stephanie (who is 5 by the way) "Would you rather have a bowl full of candy for dinner or gazpacho?" (Gazpacho is a cold soup, mostly tomatoes and other vegetables). She didn't want the candy.

Off hiking (yes mom & dad, that's right!) for the weekend in Zermatt. I will try my hardest to take pictures because the Matterhorn is quite a site.

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