Tag Archives: cooking

When Friends Cook Vol. 1

27 Jul

There are few things I enjoy or appreciate more than someone cooking for me. Given how much I love to cook, this doesn’t happen often. And to be honest, given how particular I can be, particular being a code word for control freak, it took a while for me to let go and enjoy someone taking the cooking reins. Years ago I almost destroyed a friendship when said friend roasted a chicken for me in my own kitchen. I couldn’t resist giving notes in the guise of questions that started with ‘Are you sure you want to…?” The friendship thankfully survived and I learned to shut up. Age and a debatable amount of maturity have further enabled me to sit back and enjoy a friend preparing a meal, even in my own kitchen.

Martinis certainly help.

One such friend is one of my best friends, David Hendren. He is a terrific artist. (Click here to check out a little of his art.) He is also an excellent cook. In exchange for using a shed in my backyard as his studio, a plus as it means he is often around, he cooks a meal every month or so for whomever happens to be around that evening. These are lovely nights for me. I can sit back, relax, focus on good conversation and enjoy what is always an amazing meal.

David is a better tinkerer than I in the kitchen. Some of the best meals he has prepared were dishes he threw together without a recipe, replicating something he enjoyed at a restaurant or trying an idea based on what was fresh at the market that afternoon. Two of his best dishes I ask for him to repeat are tomato-based. One is a spicy salsa with a hell of a beautiful kick. The second is a tomato sauce/marinara that is incredibly versatile. Both are outstanding. Given it is summer and vine ripe tomatoes are plentiful, I asked him to donate these two recipes to the blog. (One actually uses canned tomatoes but we’re not sticklers here at On Food And Film.)

Click here to read more about David and get his two killer tomato recipes

A Cook/Book That Changed My Life

23 Mar

I grew up eating wonderful food. Both my parents were excellent cooks. Mom cooked most of the meals, but Dad was also very adept in the kitchen. Mom, in fact, said it was my father who taught her how to cook, after they were married, as she had little desire or use for cooking until she became a wife and it was forced upon her. Thankfully, she came to enjoy cooking immensely and was one hell of a great cook.

Both my grandmothers — my maternal Grandmother, “Honey” and my paternal grandmother, “Maw-Maw”, the pronunciation of which is difficult to get on paper — were also incredible cooks. I’m not sure my maternal grandfather, “Papa”, ever cooked, though like his grandson he sure enjoyed eating. Dad’s dad, “Paw-Paw”, also didn’t cook much but when he did, he shined. Among other things, he made a terrific and rather intense squirrel gumbo. Just watch out for the buckshot in the meat…

Our meals tended to be comprised of rich, heavy food. Deep dark gumbos, thickly layered casseroles, braised meats, vegetables laden with butter and cream. Eating vegetables light meant broiled or sauteed only in butter, minus cheese and/or cream. Dad’s side of the family tree is Cajun so we ate a lot of white rice, as opposed to potatoes and bread. To this day there are few things in the world better to me than white rice ladled with pan drippings from roasted meats. We ate loads of Tex-Mex as well. This was good food in the best sense of the word. It wasn’t the healthiest food, however, evidenced most effectively by my Dad’s sudden death, mid-sentence to my mom, of a heart attack at age 54.

I was 24 years old when Dad died. Blessed with his same genes, I realized I needed to at least try to eat healthier. Working post-college for ten years as a waiter in a terrific steak house didn’t make eating healthy easy. (Just wait for the waiting tables blog. Just you wait.) Besides, I didn’t really know how to eat healthy, or rather, how to eat healthy and still have the food taste good. This probably seems strange now but if you’re over 30, you might remember how different our thinking about food was at the time. Only ‘hippies’ were interested in farmer’s markets and organic produce.  We were still being told margarine was healthier than butter, for goodness sakes! Much of what we were told and taught about food for years now seems insane, so it might be hard to remember how blinded we were. For me, a bowl of Fettuccine Alfredo made with one stick of butter rather than two sticks of butter, and a slight cutting back on the cream, was healthy cooking.

One afternoon driving to the steakhouse, however, I heard a woman being interviewed on NPR about her new cookbook…

Click here for the rest of the post!