Jim and I have become elders. Seems like over night we’re over the hill, making adjustments, shedding old habits and expectations, wondering how on earth we’re going to cope with extreme old age. We’re picking up tips about each other’s domain–when one of us knocks off, the other will somehow survive.
Jim is learning to cook. He can follow a recipe with minimal coaching. Now he’s figuring out the inverse of having a culinary vision. Instead of choosing recipes and organizing ingredients, he looks around for readily available edible items. He’s acquiring a foraging mentality.
He often presents ordinary food in a unique way.
Contrasting presentation aesthetics: elegant tangerines and messy mickies.
They look like a disaster, BUT they are A+ world class super scrumptious gourmet spuds. It’s ridiculous to attempt translating a taste into words. Making your own mickies is a must.
Bake russets on winter evenings when the wood stove coals are settled and hot. Medium sized is best so you don’t have to wait such a long time for them to cook all the way through.
Shove unwrapped russets into the coals with a poker. Cover them with coals as best you can. Leave them alone for about 15-20 minutes and turn them over for 10 more minutes. Time varies according to how hot the coals are. Extract a spud from the coals with the poker, then pierce it with long fork. After the initial jab goes through the black crust, the tines easily slide into the soft interior. These are done.
The charcoal crust is cool enough to touch after two minutes. Jim cuts his length-wise, then mashes it. I like mine cut cross-wise into little cups that are easy to hold. Butter, salt and pepper top off the most surprisingly delicious taste and texture ever discovered in the potato culinary kingdom.
Jim loves to make 2nd breakfast, which is more substantial than coffee & toast 1st breakfast. Omelettes are among his favorites. We have become egg snobs because our neighbors share premium free-range goose and hen eggs.
Marcella Robinson from Whey Behind Farms generously provides goose eggs, which are more valuable than gold because they’re edible.
These rambunctious, pushy goslings have imprinted on Marcella. They think she is their mom until they reach adolescence. They will begin to lay precious eggs in about a year. BTW, as adults and matrons they still come waddling to Marcella when she calls them: “GosOOOOO! GosOOOOOOO!”
Here’s another measurement to show how large these eggs are.
Jim uses two for a giant omelette.
He raps the thick shell on the rim of the bowl with a smart smack.
Note Jim’s skill–he leaves only a small amount of albumin dribbled onto the counter.
Jim as chef takes time to examine the onion before the slice-dice.
Onion roots are decorative and the papery skin is both brittle and strong. The outer onion layer is amazingly smooth.
Jim inspects the chopping knife, which is a bit dull, but its silhouette is impressive.
He proceeds with the onion. If these were tea leaves, this constellation would say, “You will enjoy washing dishes after a dinner party.”
Grater action through semi-hard cheddar is satisfying.
Chopping garden broccollini is a cinch.
Before Jim scrambles the eggs, he notices his shaggy reflection in the pan’s thin coating of olive oil.
The pan’s sizzle temperature is just right for the onion saute and goose egg pour.
Jim pays attention the balanced spatula design.
He adds the broccoli last so that it will remain bright green and tasty.
He shows off his left-handed back flip.
He serves a perfect Ooo-la la omelletta in our favorite outdoor restaurant.
Toadies are another 2nd breakfast specialty. Break the egg into the cut out hole. Fry and flip.
Jim looks around for whatever we have in abundance (or whatever is about to go bad.). If it’s apple season, he fries apple slices with sausage–usually plant-based patties from the freezer. (Chop sticks are his preferred kitchen tool.)
During pear season, Jim concocts pear gorgonzola walnut pizza. In every phase of ripeness, pears are delicious. If he can’t find a traditional small crust, he makes faux pizza with a thick tortilla. Use a medium high heat in the toaster oven until the cheese is bubbly.
Kabocha squashes store well all winter–they are a default dinner.
He cuts the squash and saves seeds for next year. Boiled for 15 minutes, the sections become tender. When cool, the skin easily separates from the flesh. He might make a creamy mashed version or if skins are tender, he might chunk them in a soup.
This time, he makes fried kabocha balls coated with freshly minced garlic and panko.
When Jim was learning basic cooking–starting with how to boil an egg–he’d drive me crazy with the amount of repetitive coaching he needed. He is nearly deaf, so following directions is difficult and short term memory loss doesn’t help. I learned not to roll my eyes with impatience and I constantly monitor my tone of voice so he knows that my increased volume does not mean I am mad.
He understands that everything he cooks is appreciated. Even more than appreciating his skills, I am refreshed by his playful, mindful attention to the wonders and beauty of our world.
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