A freak accident last week has fettered my father to the couch and painfully (and I do mean painfully) dislocated him from his beloved role as family cook for at least the next few weeks. As a result of this unfortunate occurrence, I have been anointed the interim chef de cuisine of the household until my father is ready to resume his post. This interregnum is approaching the end of its first week, and while I always have been a huge fan of my Dad’s cooking, I have also relished the opportunity to cook on a daily basis. I’ve never viewed cooking as a burden or chore – as far as I can remember, it’s been a source of sheer pleasure, equal parts relaxation and stimulation. I love the musicality and tangibility of the act, the variety of ingredients and methods of preparation, the edible output. Over the years I’ve come into a style of cooking that involves both preparation and spontaneity. I am a planner by nature, and though creativity has never been my strong suit, there is something about being in the kitchen, running a knife through vegetables or prepping a marinade, that rouses my normally quiescent creative juices to action. I like to have a pretty solid idea of what I’m going to do before I do it — call it a vision — but extemporaneous additions always make their way into the mix, and are, for the most part, inspired…or at least not catastrophic.
Some of the dinnertime repasts I’ve prepared in the past few days include: broiled steak and roasted asparagus over herbed rice; a kitchen sink salad the following day of rice, rotisserie chicken, asparagus, halved grapes, and a diced apple in a sour cream, mustard, and orange juice dressing (not sure where I got that one); lots of bruschetta (for appetizers and between meal munchies); a chunky soup of beef bones, carrots, potatoes, tomatoes, and red cabbage with some crusty pumpernickel. Tonight it’s looking like pan-fried pork chops with corn on the cob and maybe a sweet potato noodle and cabbage stir-fry. Hopefully a pictorial update to follow later tonight!