Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ultimate Barefoot Italian Throwdown Chef

Food Network shows are 30 minutes in length. And in 30 minutes, each chef prepares usually a main course with accompanying sides, dessert and cocktail. Unless the show is about using a particular ingredient or how to stretch one roaster chicken into 5 weeknight meals. I don't usually watch those quirky, easy "how to" shows- I want to watch the whole meal come together in a professional's hands so that I can take the menu, go shopping, prepare it that evening and eat around our family table.

I don't want to make food. I want to cook.

We don't have cable at our house, so I watch two Food Network shows back to back while I am on the elliptical machine- if I get to the gym four times/week like I wrote on the back of a cocktail napkin on the airplane flight back from New Orleans, that averages 8 shows every week. Eight chances to make asparagus risotto like Giada or Huevos Rancheros like Bobby or Roast Game Hen like Emeril or Croque Monsieur like Ina or Beef Vindaloo like Aarti.

It is possible, while I am watching the 30 minute show, to create those meals. I cannot imagine any reason why I shouldn't be able to stir a pot of risotto continually for 25 minutes. And while Giada is stirring continually, she is braising a pork loin, blanching asparagus spears, toasting almonds and creating a lady finger studded dessert, covered in freshly whipped cream.

The next time Food Network calls for auditions for the next Food Network Star, I am going to try out with a show I want to call simply Cooking with Children.

I am in a great dress from Anthropologie, my spices are already ground and out in decorative bowls, my stovetop is pristine and Bruce is on the record player in the background. Today I am making mushroom asparagus risotto. Suddenly, I can do this. I am Giada with smaller boobs and a less awesome California kitchen.

While I am trying to soften onions in butter and olive oil, Knox is pulling out the Crock Pot from the bottom shelf and leaving it directly behind me so I trip over it when I take a step back. Mincing the garlic? No problem, except the runny nose dripping down Purslane's face isn't going anywhere while she refuses to let me come near her with a tissue "while your hands are stinky, Mama". Measuring rice is super fun with the help of a 3 year old who forgets what number she was on and has to pour out the rice and measure over again at least 4 times. When I suggest that maybe Mama can take over so she can be free to play? Tears and protests requiring a few moments of reassurance that no, I love cooking with her and am so grateful for the help. Milk and chicken stock simmering together in a pot boil over while I have to step away from the stove to re-diaper Knox who can only run around naked for so long before the urge to open air pee is too strong to resist. The asparagus is easy, thank God. I don't know why anyone doesn't buy the already washed and chopped baby bella mushrooms...a quick sautee and my two risotto additives are ready to go.

 I put on an episode of Dinosaur Train for my darlings because my risotto and their show should end just about the same time and I will apply a fresh coat of lipstick before Grant walks in the door and we all sit down to a handmade meal.

Pursy wants an apple.
Knox jumps from the couch to the coffee table and almost breaks his face.
Pursy has to pee and uses an entire roll of toilet paper.
Knox wants an apple now.
Pursy doesn't want this episode of Dinosaur Train, she wants the Dinosaur ABC one. She doesn't know which one it is, and there are at least 73 episodes on Amazon Prime.
Knox throws his apple in the trashcan but misses and the sticky apple core hits the wall and the floor half a dozen times. Of course the floor was just mopped yesterday.
No one is as cool as Mama. Let's hang out in the kitchen as close as we can be to her.
Knox tries to clean up his apple core and almost takes out the ceramic serving platter with the broom handle.
Pursy wants to wear her dress up dress.
Both disappear for 30 seconds. Disobeying strict orders not to stop stirring, I walk around the corner to see a village of Cooties fighting with an army of dinosaurs in a sea of dominoes. Too many little pieces, I have to walk away and hope Grant will feel moved to pick it up when he comes home.
In the 20 seconds I walked away from the stove, the risotto stuck to the bottom of the dutch oven and the asparagus is already smoking.

I would watch that show.

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