Some deaths are slow and especially painful; this one took a while.
I don't know why I love to cook so much. Every foreign dish I master at home is a trip I'd like to take. Every new technique opens a new door. Every meal has been my way of hugging my family and telling them I love them. But if that isn't their love language, isn't it time to stop?
I remember the days when I would make homemade tortillas from organic masa, eggs, and a fresh salsa for breakfast. Dinners were elaborate: fresh pasta from scratch, duck legs braised in red wine, roast chicken with quinoa and zucchini. I made all my bread from scratch from a starter. Ice cream made a weekly appearance and the flavors varied from the requisite chocolate, vanilla, and fruit flavors to cardamom banana and mint chocolate. I poured my love into my family through the kitchen.
It didn't stop there! I became obsessed with the idea of backyard chickens to provide my family with the best quality eggs. I wanted a garden in spite of my black thumb. I wanted bee hives and a milking goat- though I know now you never have just one, but whatever, it was a dream.
I still believe there's something beautiful about that. But what do you do when your family really doesn't appreciate it, or even like it that much? When you plan what you thought was a simple dinner and it took hours after all, when there is a huge mess in the kitchen, and when your family would rather season the meat with whatever their preferred combination of ketchup, BBQ sauce, and kekap manis??? Well? What then?
My last folly was a Persian meal. I had made it with friends after driving everywhere to find the barberries for the rice. The chicken was marinated in near lethal quantities of onion and then barbecued, and the rice was beautiful and tart. I was so sure my family would love it- but once I brought it out, of course the unholy trinity of BBQ sauce, ketchup, and parmesan cheese also made it to the table. What was I doing? If they don't care about what I put into the meal, am I just trying to force them into accepting something for my sake?
Not too long after the Persian debacle, I made a nice, safe meal of Chinese flavored rice noodles. My son, who loves Pad See Ew maybe more than just about anything else, wanted to know why I hadn't used the same sauce. I said these were supposed to taste Chinese, not Thai. And when he mixed up his own combination of black soy sauce and Golden Mountain sauce and drizzled the whole thing over his noodles, I was devastated. I wanted to cry, but it was as if I faced a religious difference between me and my husband and kids.
My husband defended my son. "What is different," he asked, "between adding some sauce and seasoning with salt and pepper? Isn't he just seasoning it to taste?"
And I bet my husband is right. But I QUIT!!!!
If you've always wondered what a tomato would taste like if it were a pineapple, you now have the opportunity to find out.
I try to grow something new every year. Last year I tried ground cherries. The seed label said it would grow like a tomato plant. While it was similar, it spread more; I planted three in a row in a four foot bed and the spacing worked out nicely. The fruit looks like a tomatillo, but it isn't ready until it actually falls off the plant. I suppose this is why it's called a ground cherry. My daughter enjoyed collecting the fallen fruit every day, and because of the papery skin it was always clean. Nearly everyone liked the flavor, but it was my son who made the tomato pineapple connection. Exactly right.
My mother, the keeper of all the family secrets, reported that while she wasn't a fan, my grandmother used to grow these and make jam with them. Who knew?
So if you're growing a few plants this year and want to try something new, I think this is a fun one. We bought our seeds from Baker Creek.
This is the strangest vegetable I have ever grown. I couldn't figure out what it was doing or where it was going. It's a very mysterious vegetable the first year. All the permaculturists throw out the benefits of Walking Onion since it is a perennial, and of course I was curious. In the picture above you see the knee-like joints growing halfway up the onion.
Eventually the papery joints split to reveal little baby plants that look, to this viewer, just like something out of the banquet scene from Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Remember the little snakes? Well, at least the onions are much cuter.
Little mini onion bulbs grow from the joints. You can see them close up below. If you leave them on the plant, they fall to the earth, root into the ground, and eventually the onion arm that dropped them there dies and they form their own separate plant.
I wasn't sure how to use them. The bulbs are a little small, and the stems are a little thick, but ultimately they proved to be a pretty useful allium, if a strange one.
I love trying new foods, cooking, and gardening. I hope to share these experiences on this site. Thanks for taking a look!