Bon Appetite

By Judy Bluhm

Can you substitute half-and-half with sour cream? Yes.This was the big question I had to answer yesterday. You see, I have decided to try one new recipe a week and it has not been easy. Cooking is not always a walk in the park. It takes tools, ingredients rarely on our pantry shelves, luck and imagination. I have stacks of cookbooks scattered all over the place while I look for one “new meal.” Oh yea, cooking delicious is more like an extreme sport than a hobby.

Oh, did I mention that beef rolled up (with a scrumptious mixture of fennel, onion and mushrooms), tied with string and sautéed with a brown sauce is too much work? You have to pound the beef (my husband, Doug, suggested he use one of his hammers) and then tie the rolled beef in three places (again, he was running to the garage to get some string). Back off! Man items need to stay out of my kitchen! That’s why ladies like to go shopping and get special kitchen twine and meat mallets, which do look suspiciously like a hammer and string.

My most recent success was Sole Parmesan, which is a mouth-watering dish that takes a lot of preparation. Come to think of it, cooking takes time. Now I know that Rachael Ray says that you can cook great meals in 30 minutes, but she has a staff and stocked kitchen. Most of us have a staff of “one.”

Sometimes cooking (and eating) is mundane. You’ve cooked this and eaten that. Then, all of a sudden, you want to try something with tilapia and marmalade. (Don’t do it). Cooking, like life, can be one big adventure. I did make my own spaghetti sauce from scratch, which I admit was an awful lot of work. But, Mama Mia, I will never buy a jar of sauce again! Sadly, my new experience with the “real thing” means that my life just got more complicated.

My daughter and a few of her friends have challenged me to a chicken enchilada cook-off. Their enchiladas are pretty boring. I have a recipe from a Mexican friend, and I perfected it until my own family was surprised. See what cooking can do? It can amaze your family. My secret weapon? Cream cheese . . . but don’t tell anyone. Cooking is a metaphor for life. One simple ingredient can magically transform ordinary into extraordinary.

All right. There are bigger fish to fry (no pun intended) than improving cooking skills. I know that. But some adventures start at home. Like tonight, my husband may be longing for a simple meatloaf,  but instead he will be taking a culinary trip to Italy. Or, maybe France. I’ll pick the destination (I mean recipe) and whip up something unforgettable that will take us far, far away. With any luck, it will be a good trip. Until next week . . .try something new. Bon Appetite.

Judy Bluhm is a writer and a local realtor. Have a comment or a story? Email Judy at judy@judybluhm.com.