Last night I combined equal parts courage and energy to produce a rather delicious pot of homemade chicken noodle soup. The soup is a very easy recipe from my grandma, passed down to my sister, passed down to me. I didn’t collect any of my late grandma’s recipes, primarily because, in my younger days, I was too busy “playing office” on my Commodore 64. It was my younger sister who found a home in the kitchen and soaked up all my grandma’s tips and tricks for delicious food.
I, on the other hand, lack those skills. But when the opportunity strikes to prepare something in the kitchen that doesn’t merely require the removal of cellophane and continuous electrical warmth, I jump at the chance.
While slicing vegetables and adding cans of chicken broth last night, I’ll admit I, albeit briefly, entered a fantasy world where I hosted my own show on Food Network. Since becoming a slave to cable television a year or two ago, I’ve fallen in love with Food Network. The friendly, racially diverse hosts, the specials on candy and cakes, the cooking competition events: they all fill my head and heart with false hope that I am capable of such culinary pleasure.
If Food Network camera crews invaded my tiny, narrow kitchen, they would find the following:
• A stove top, oven and microwave that haven’t been thoroughly cleaned since I purchased my home five years ago
• A pantry stocked with a bizarre “collection” of canned vegetables, spices, canned fruits, Baker’s chocolate, dried up noodles and salt and pepper shakers lifted from more than one local restaurant
• Approximately 752 pieces of Ziploc and generic brand Tupperware, all peppered with water spots, the likes of whose lids and containers are anything but organized
• Approximately 354 dishes, plates, bowls and glasses, only 32 percent of whom actually match and create a dinner table pleasing to the eye
• A smattering of pots, pans, lids, cake pans and cookie sheets that would best be suited as scrap metal or kitchen “accessories” for a family of homeless gypsies
• Beer in the fridge (I should get some points for that one)
• A lovely (and complete!) set of silverware, handed down from my grandma
• Oversized packages of Jif peanut butter and Ritz crackers, courtesy of Sam’s Club
• Two cartons of ice cream in the freezer
It would worry me that any one of the talented Food Network hosts would recoil in disgust and hang their head in shame and grief at the state of my kitchen. I’m always amazed at how clean and well stocked the TV kitchens appear in the glorious images beamed back through my HDTV. The meals they prepare literally make my mouth water and continually cause my cravings to change directions. In fact, after watching an episode of “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” last weekend, I spent Monday’s lunch at Petrow’s, plunking down $8.91 (tip included) for a cheeseburger, fries and onion rings. It was worth every penny.
Now, who’s hungry?
Further proof of my culinary skills: a Christmas gift from my aunt.
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