So, let’s talk food, shall we? And let’s begin with me telling you how much I love food. And cooking. And baking. I do.
On Facebook, I’ve been hinting that I might start a food blog. But who are we fooling? Food bloggers word hard, people! Really, really hard! And, they have mad photography skills. I don’t have skills such as theirs. Nor do I have a fabulous camera, or a kitchen with fabulous lighting. If I were to start a food blog, I’d have to build a kitchen out in my backyard, just to take photos of the ingredients and the prep and the before and afters.
The story of my food love is a beautiful testimony of God’s redemptive work in the world. OK. That’s probably an overstatement. Or maybe a metaphor.
As a little girl, whenever my parents took me out to dinner, I always ordered a hamburger (ketchup only), french fries, and a Coke. If there was salad, I ate it without dressing. If there was dessert, it was chocolate ice cream. On my first date with H, I ordered my usual: hamburger, french fries, and a Coke. We were at a steak house, with surf and turf, and escargot, and lobster tail on the menu.
Despite my boring food-ordering habits, H asked me on a second date, and here I am, more than thirty years later, writing to you about how much I love food. I credit H for my love of food. I started venturing out in my food-tasting journey at his mother’s kitchen table.
H’s mom was from Mississippi and she cooked a serious, full-course meal every single night. She went to the market nearly every day to buy meat or fish and produce, and she started cooking at about noon each day. In the summer, she used vegetables she grew in her own backyard. Martha Stewart and Nano could have had a competition and it probably would have ended in a tie, with the fancy-cooking judges voting for Martha, and the down-home judges voting for Nano, and everyone drooling over every single dish on the menu.
In spite of my lack of experience in the kitchen, H married me anyway, and we began our life together with me having exactly four recipes in my repertoire: pancakes, spaghetti, scrambled eggs, and salad (ok, maybe three recipes). Yep. From daily, down-home Mississippi masterpieces, to four simple recipes in a tiny seminary apartment.
Over the years, H convinced me to try different kinds of food. That first year, we dubbed February “Wok Month” and we cooked dinner using only the wok we’d received as a wedding present. We used the tiny booklet of recipes that came with the wok and worked our way through it from cover to cover. On special occasions, we’d go out to eat and H would order escargot and encourage me to give it a try. I started tearing out recipes from magazines I’d read and try to recreate them in our shoebox sized kitchen. Eventually, I started to get the hang of it. I even liked it. Who knew?
Today, I’m all-in. I still love a good burger and fries and I’m known to forego the Coke for a beer. Some days, when I eat out at a new restaurant, I look for the most exotic-sounding item on the menu and throw caution to the wind. If it works for me, I may try to recreate the dish at home. And that, my friends, is my long way of telling you, without subjecting you to horrible photos of romaine lettuce and chunks of watermelon, that I ordered watermelon salad last month when I was in New York, and I cannot get it out of my mind!
Yesterday, I stopped at one of the many roadside produce stands in our town, and I picked up one of the best watermelons I’ve ever tasted. Well, H picked it up. I’m not good at picking out watermelons, or for that matter, picking up watermelons. H does the thing where he thumps the watermelon and listens for a certain sound, and he always gets a good one. When I try it, I end up with the watermelon that’s all mealy and gross on the inside.
I got that watermelon home yesterday, and here’s where my own mom’s genius kicks in. My mom makes up recipes. She doesn’t care one little bit what Martha Stewart might have to say about that. My mom looks in her kitchen cabinets, then she walks over and looks in the freezer, and then she stands with her hand on her hip and makes a mental calculation which results in a culinary masterpiece at about five o’clock every evening. Her kitchen hardly even looks like she’s cooked in it, and you don’t even realize she’s been preparing a meal until she says, “OK, everyone! Dinner’s ready!” And then you’re like, “Really? When did that happen?” And we sit down to an amazing meal at the table on my parents’ screened-in porch.
I’m not quite that genius. Well. I guess I don’t really have any of my mother’s kitchen savvy, but I thought you should know just how slick she is. What I can do is “adapt” an already existing recipe into something uniquely delicious. I can also eat an amazing meal at a restaurant, and then create a pretty incredible replica in my own kitchen. Which is exactly what I did with that watermelon salad. It took me about fifteen minutes to throw it together, and it was good.
So, after all the food talk on my Facebook timeline, I thought I’d share a recipe with you from time to time. Or, maybe just this once. We’ll see. Because I’m not going to be building an outdoor kitchen anytime soon. For now, here’s that Watermelon Salad:
Tell me about your culinary affinities! Leave a recipe in the the comments, or share a link to your favorite food blogger. Food bloggers are fabulous, and they deserve a little bit of love and hot sauce.