There are those of us who watch the cooking shows on television with the same intensity that folks in the South watch college football. Personally, I find the competitive cooking shows interesting and filled with characters having attitudes and behaviors that come close to professional wrestling back when it was real (or at least I thought it was).
You can find chefs with tattoos, crazy hair and all kinds of things pierced that could seemingly get in the way when knives start chopping and pans start flying. They put their aprons on and go at each other in a kitchen, cooking to be judged by a panel of experts who are often just as colorful as those doing the cooking.
It seems like most of the amateur chefs in these competitions have stories that are supposed to make you feel sorry for them and want them to win the competition. Things like the ghost of their mother telling them to “Go back into the kitchen” or having a dream about the secret ingredient in Uncle Earl’s Barbecue Sauce.
Sometimes the stories are truly sad, but those of you who watch these shows know what I mean. In addition to cooking, you get a soap opera, a little professional wrestling and one of those afternoon shows where the host brings in a couple of whack jobs to yell and scream at each other and admit to things they shouldn’t have even thought of doing.
One of the shows I find most entertaining is the one where the contestants get a basket of stuff they aren’t expecting and are asked to make an appetizer, entrée or dessert. As many folks know, the things in the basket are usually ingredients you have never heard of, never seen on a grocery store shelf or just plain don’t go together.
Most of us have been cooking out the basket all our lives and never really thought of it that way. In other words, we often are faced with the option of either going to the grocery store or making do with what we have. Also, you might have situations where there’s too much week at the end of the money – you have to feed yourself and the kids and be happy about it.
So you go hunting in the pantry or the kitchen cabinets and you often need a stool or a chair to find the food that has been hiding way back in the back – things you have forgotten about or haven’t taken to the can food drive at church.
For some folks, they just can’t cook without a recipe or step by step instructions, for others, it’s an adventure. These professional cooks on television are always creating these absolutely gorgeous meals that seem so simple. These beautiful chefs usually never even break a sweat.
If they would just let me, I could come up with some really good cooking shows that folks would find interesting.
For example, let Rachael Ray or Giada De Laurentiis start their cooking show normally – then let about five kids loose in the kitchen. Put one in a bouncy chair on the island, one in a walker, one crawling and maybe a pair of twins about five years old. The object is to make the meal and take care of the children without screaming or leaving. About the time Rachael Ray sticks a pacifier in the mouth of the one on the island and picks up the wooden spoon to hand to the one in walker for the 100th time, open the door and let two or three big dogs “come help.”
Now that would be exciting…
You could also have other events going on such as the power going out, the pipes under the sink breaking and an army of ants finding their way to the sugar bowl.
Entertainment is what it would be. Better yet, let a man try to do it. Folks seem to love “Reality TV,” that is realityfor a lot for folks.
The other night in my basket (or pantry), I found a bag of dried black-eyed peas, some Quick Grits (they weren’t mine), a can of peaches in heavy syrup and a jar of maraschino cherries. After doing the quick soak on the peas and cooking the Quick Grits that I did not buy, I opened the peaches and pulled out a few cherries and mixed all of my ingredients together.
In my mind, I thought I could get all of these things to stay together and pull off dollops to fry or bake as fritters. The mixture was not sticking together. A friend asked what I used as a “base.” If that means, “How did you get the stuff to stay together?” I’ll tell you – I could not at first.
I started with a little corn starch, which didn’t help much. Then I began toasting slices of “Ezekiel Bread” to smash up and use as bread crumbs. With a name like Ezekiel Bread, I was hoping for a miracle.
I got one.
I took dollops of the mixture, dipped them in egg and coated them in Bisquick. They made nice looking baked fritters that I served to my children with peach preserves.
Mama would have been proud.
I do not recommend doing this at home and no, I do not have a recipe.
What I do know is that every day we get a basket full of stuff that we aren’t expecting and are not so sure what to do with.
We open it and do our best – that is all we can do.
Find more stories and a picture of my fritters at www.CranksMyTractor.com.