mercredi 28 septembre 2005

Sometimes titles elude me.


While I obviously love to cook, I rarely cook for my family. In the past, that was largely because I was on the East coast and they were on the West, but that didn’t really excuse the fact that when I came home for vacations, I still didn’t cook for them. It’s partially because when I’m home I’m exceedingly lazy (as opposed to other times, when I’m just generally lazy), and partially because of my father. For my father, you see, is one of those people who eats to live, whereas I am definitely one who lives to eat. Due to various health complications that come with aging, he’s put himself on a more restricted diet for health reasons, and swears by the godforsaken volumetric diet; his version, however, consists of almost all vegetables and nothing else. “I can eat a whole head of lettuce plain,” he likes to proclaim. I can’t think of anything more miserable food-wise. Well, aside from rotting food. To be fair, it has kept diabetes at bay and helped him lose 30 pounds, which isn't shabby at all, but argh! We have to hear about this diet all the time! ALL THE TIME, as he then attempts to impose his horrible food restrictions on the rest of the family. And whenever I used to cook (aka, show off, aka, show that entertaining came before classwork for me), this is his general voiced-aloud stream of consciousness:
Is there fat in here?
I think you used butter.
It tastes like butter.
A lot of butter.
Look at how greasy it is.
Look at how oily it is.
This is so unhealthy.
You’ll have a heart attack if you eat like this.
You’ll gain weight if you eat like this.
Are you taking lipitor?
You should be taking lipitor.
I think I need another lipitor after eating this.
I can eat a whole head of lettuce plain and be full.
Okay, you’re all thinking that it couldn’t be that bad. BUT IT IS, and worse because I hear it all the time and generally I’ve just spent an hour or more cooking and THAT’S WHAT I GET? And generally, when I cook at home, I do eschew my more Julia Child-esque recipes and go for something more along the lines of Moosewood. Hence, why I rarely cook for my family. I like butter. Lots.

But one of the benefits of cooking at home is that my mother buys all the ingredients. And I like to give her a break from cooking. Can you imagine cooking for my father day in and day out? Egads. I'd go crazy.

So I decided to make Zuni Cafe's chicken with figs, honey, and vinegar. Please note the minimum of olive oil used. Even though I'd seen fresh figs just the week before in the market, I couldn't find any last night. Figures. Instead, I poached dried figs in orange juice - not the same, I know, but you do what you can. It's a very simple dish. Unfortunately, I wasn't thrilled by the sauce - even though I slightly increased both the honey and cider vinegar used in the last step, it was still sort of blah. The chicken itself was great, but then anything braising in a wine mixture for 40 minutes is bound to be good.

As for my father? It happens that he had to work late that day, and didn't come home for dinner. Oh well.

In additional news, you know you're a big ol' geek when one of the highlights of your day is getting a new library card at the newly opened branch of the public library that is conveniently located within walking distance. New. That means that almost all of the books are NEW, and it's all pretty and sparkly inside and goshdarnit, you like libraries. Especially new clean ones.