I Never Knew How Little I Knew - New Horizons in the Kitchen Blog at Allrecipes.com - 271312

New Horizons in the Kitchen

I NEVER KNEW HOW LITTLE I KNEW 
 
Mar. 27, 2012 11:58 am 
Updated: Oct. 13, 2012 7:14 am

I’m an intermediate cook who has been cooking for a long time and thought I knew my way around the kitchen.  I decided to take a six-week Basics of Culinary course at the Publix Apron’s Cooking School in Tampa.   I’d like to share some of what I learned with you if you’ll bear with me.  I should have done a short blog after each class instead of just one long one, so I hope you make it to the end.  



Publix is a large supermarket chain in the South which has six cooking schools in Florida and one in Georgia.  Apron’s has hands-on classes and demonstration classes; Basics of Culinary is hands-on.  My class was small, 3 guys and 5 women, and I think everybody was pretty close on skill level.  No novice cooks and no expert cooks which made for a relaxing learning environment.  The two chef-instructors were professional, knowledgeable, personable, and willing to answer questions on any cooking topic.  They represented Publix well!



My primary reason for taking this course was to learn cooking techniques and skills, so I could be less dependent on recipes.  We all throw things together in the kitchen, sometimes they turn out great and other times, not so much.  And I wanted to have a better understanding of why certain things work and others don’t.


Now, let me tell you “I NEVER KNEW HOW LITTLE I KNEW” until I took this course.  First class focused on knife skills and safety in the kitchen.  I wasn’t even holding my knife correctly.  I find that I’m now slicing, dicing, and chopping much more productively, and my husband has less fear that one day he’ll be driving me to the emergency room with a severed finger.  Big message here for all of us is keep your knives “SHARP.”


We learned how to cut up a whole chicken and then turn it into flavorful stock.  Don’t throw away any veggies or bones (even from rotisserie chickens).  Put them in a zip-lock bag, and pop them in the freezer for use later when you need to make stock, and just let it simmer all day (if you have time).


I think all of us were surprised at how much flavor came from cooking shrimp shells (which in my house would have gone down the disposal) into a flavorful broth which was used in shrimp etouffe.  Again, making use of something that previously would have gone out to the curb on garbage day.

  

We learned about emulsions, and the successful ratio of 3 parts oil to 1 part emulsifier for successful dressings and vinaigrettes.  We made Hollandaise sauce, lemon curd,  and mayonnaise.  Not long ago I made the Deeeelicious Vidalia Dressing recipe on the All Recipes site which turned out totally runny, but oh so tasty.  I now have been able to get it to the right consistency by using that 3/1 ratio in the recipe, it just never fails:


http://allrecipes.com/customrecipe/63157904/vidalia-onion-dressing/detail.aspx<


How really simple it is to make a tomato-based “mother sauce” which then can be turned into other sauces like marinara and enchilada just by the addition of herbs and spices.  You don’t really need a recipe to do that.  And how about brandy cream sauce for steak au poivre or a pecan brown butter sauce over tilapia that was so easy and so delicious...yes, we made them.


Another class focused on dough.  That day, we made pizza, focaccia, flatbread, and turned home made pasta into fettuccine for Grilled Chicken Alfredo Fettuccine. The rind end of a chunk of Parmigiano-Reggiano (in my house, unfortunately, it probably would have been more affordable Romano) which I normally would have thrown away was added to the simmering cream which then released its flavor into the alfredo sauce...fantastic!  That fresh fettuccine that was made in the food processor and then rolled out and cut with the Kitchen Aid pasta attachment was so easy and delicious that I’m trying to justify that I really NEED that pasta attachment.  Maybe for my next birthday??


We quickly “roasted” garlic cloves just by adding them to olive oil and cooking on the stove until soft.  We removed the garlic cloves from the oil, mashed them, and added back some of the olive oil (saving the rest of the garlic-infused oil for use later) to make a paste which then was spread on the pizza crust for our Margherita Pizza.  No tomato sauce used here, just freshly-sliced tomatoes, basil and cheeses.


We learned braising techniques, tips for home made ice cream, cooking fresh veggies in light tempura batter, cleaning and cooking fresh mussels with different broths/sauces, 2/1 ratio for cooking rice, correctly mashing potatoes, quick & easy strudels using phyllo dough, etc., etc.  Enough said...learned a lot!


Today was the last class.  We learned how to french a rack of lamb, a work of art.  Our final meal was poblano corn chowder, spiced lamb chops (coated with a dry spice rub) with red wine reduction, ancho-cocoa rubbed pork tenderloin, 3-cheese macaroni with caramelized onions (m-m-m-m, what those onions did for that mac & cheese), and for dessert, white chocolate bread pudding with whiskey caramel sauce.  Wow, what a meal to end the course.



We cooked a lot of food in these six classes which was enjoyed by all of us at the end of each class.  My head is filled with lots of new cooking knowledge, and I’m inspired and motivated to get into the kitchen and start cooking.  I’ll never give up on Allrecipes, it’ll always be my go-to source for recipes and cooking info, but I’m now ready to start generating more recipes of my own.  


The point of these classes was to leave with a better understanding of some basic culinary skills and techniques to make us better cooks. And also, to be able to take a recipe and successfully “make it your own.”  Great fun and very worthwhile experience...BON APPETIT!






I am an Allrecipes Allstar Brand Ambassador (a voluntary position), and I'm not compensated for my work with Allrecipes.com. Products received from advertisers are only used for experienced-based reviews on New Horizons in the Kitchen.  The reviews, content and opinions expressed in this blog are purely the sole opinions of lutzflcat.


 
Comments
Mar. 27, 2012 2:08 pm
Wow, that sounds so fun! Thank you for sharing your tips. Good job on the rack of lamb.
 
Mar. 27, 2012 3:47 pm
Wow! I love publix and the recipes they make in their store! They are so easy and good! Sounds like you learned a lot! Thanks for sharing!
 
Mar. 27, 2012 3:56 pm
These types of classes are wonderful gifts for young adults starting out. I sent my boys to similar classes and the skills they learned have served them well. The knife skills class will save countless hours in the kitchen and make prepping food fun. Learning how to prepare the mother sauces is also invaluable. So glad you were able to take these classes and be inspired. Now that you have newly acquired skills treat yourself to a copy of The Flavor Bible by Karen Page and Andrew Dornenburg. This book will give you hundreds of flavor pairing ideas for you to experiment with. No recipes this is a reference book for herbs, spices and more.
 
Mar. 27, 2012 5:33 pm
Wow, that sounds like so much fun. I'm jealous. I wish we had something like that around where I live.
 
Mar. 27, 2012 5:49 pm
Sounds like fun plus you learned alot...how much do they charge for the classes?
 
Mar. 27, 2012 6:39 pm
I also went to Culinary school, after my wife was disabled and she could no longer do many of the things she once could do (Like stand for more than a few mins). I learned allot not only about cooking but management, and food safety.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 5:22 am
stick a fork in me, I'm done, thanks for stopping by. So many tips throughout the course I probably should have written all of them down.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 5:23 am
Shanon K, I really did learn a lot in this course. So glad I took it.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 5:25 am
Thanks Marie C for the info on The Flavor Bible...gonna have to check that one out. Thanks for taking the time to read, I know this was long.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 5:28 am
Janmarie 1964, it really was fun, but most of all, I learned soooo much. This site has a lot of truly experienced cooks, and it may have been too basic for them, but many of us could benefit from a course like this. Thanks for stopping by.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 5:32 am
Hi Jayashiangel, Publix has a lot of different ongoing classes (literally every day of the month), some are demo, some hands on, some just meet once, others three weeks, some like mine, meet once a week for six weeks. It just depends on what your interest is. I believe they start in the $40 range.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 5:36 am
KingSparta, I wouldn't say this was like going to culinary school, but it certainly was a worthwhile experience for me. So glad you had the opportunity to go to culinary school, don't think I could make that commitment at this point in my life, but I do enjoy cooking.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 5:54 am
That sounds so fun. There is something similar around here and I keep toying with the idea of it but I think you hit my biggest concern. I have never cut up a chicken and don't know that I ever could. I wonder if something like that came up I could opt out of that activity but then what a waste of money. Any insight to offer?
 
Lela 
Mar. 28, 2012 6:05 am
Lutzflcat-What a learning experience. The town I live in doesn't have anything like that. The chicken experience reminds me of my Husband's Grandma who raised chickens for eggs and of course fried chicken. She made cutting up a chicken look so easy.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 6:16 am
Linda2d, you would be shocked at how easy it is to cut up a chicken (at least I was)...just be sure your knife is SHARP. I find myself sharpening my knives all the time now. It's not like you're taking a course for credit, so if you didn't want to cut up a chicken, you certainly you could opt. It didn't represent a major portion of the class that day. We made the chicken broth to use in two soups we prepared that day, potato leek and french onion soup. Yesterday, one of my classmates was telling me that she'll never again buy chicken stock. She now puts everything in her crock pot early in the day and just lets it simmer all day.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 6:21 am
Hi Lela, I know what you mean about old chicken memories. I can remember as a kid going to visit my Dad's very elderly aunt and uncle who lived on a farm just north of Cincinnati (Russelville, I believe) and raised chickens. And Aunt Ode would just cut up a chicken in no time flat. Always a treat, fried chicken, mashed potatoes and milk gravy, green beans, and homemade bread.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 6:30 am
Thank you for responding. I would like to think I could suck it up but for me it's more about weak constitution than difficulty. :)
 
Mar. 28, 2012 6:50 am
linda2d, yeah, I hear you loud and clear. I have a little bit of an issue with lamb. Yesterday, I had to push that to the back of my head when we were frenching the rack. However, I must admit I ate it and thoroughly enjoyed it, too.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 6:55 am
Uh-oh, I'm like that with any meat with bones. Anything with bones gets passed on to the prep help :D
 
Mar. 28, 2012 6:59 am
I won't even look over at the 18-wheelers on the interstates that are transporting cows to we all know where...just can't dwell on that too much.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 7:59 am
What a great course! There should be more courses like this. Thank you for sharing with us.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 8:28 am
I would OVE to do something like this! I'm glad you enjoyed it, thanks for sharing your experiences!
 
Mar. 28, 2012 8:28 am
or LOVE!
 
Mar. 28, 2012 8:34 am
Baking Nana, I agree wholeheartedly...this was about basics, basics, basics. I wish I'd taken a course like this many years ago. I know I'd be a far better cook today than I am. Thanks for taking the time to read, I know this is one long blog (and I even eliminated some of it).
 
Mar. 28, 2012 8:39 am
jrbaker, totally worthwhile experience. Down the road, I think I may take a few more of these classes. For now, I just want to see what I now can do in the kitchen with what I've learned! Thanks for stopping in.
 
Paula 
Mar. 28, 2012 9:15 am
What a wonderful opportunity for you! Sounds like you really got what you wanted out of that course and more! I so wish I could take a class like that. I'll have to keep my eyes open for something similar. Thanks for telling us all about it. You made it very easy to read to the very end.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 10:39 am
Thanks, Paula. Actually, I got MORE than I ever expected out of this course. My head is spinning with all kinds of things that I want to try, understanding that all of them won't work out. But that'll be OK, because I think I now have a better idea of how to make it WORK. At least I hope so.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 1:12 pm
No matter what your cooking level is there is always more to learn. You sound so happy and energized! Make sure you pass what you learn on to your children when they're ready. So many of us became adults with only passing familiarity of cooking. I'd love to find someone who can undo so many years of using a knife incorrectly. I know the right way, but my muscle memory takes over. Thanks for sharing with us.
 
Mar. 28, 2012 1:31 pm
BigShotsMoms, you're oh so right about that. And changing the way I held a knife for so long was "uncomfortable"...it's really a mindset, I think. But the instructor understood that and just impressed upon us to first "do it" and second, just practice doing it. And he was right, because now it's finally starting to feel normal (although I occasionally slip back into old habits unconsciously).
 
Mar. 28, 2012 4:37 pm
Sounds great! I have been taking one-night mini-courses on various culinary topics at the junior college, although they are not hands-on, I've been getting a lot of good tips. Wish they had a course on knife skills!
 
Mar. 28, 2012 4:42 pm
lutz! don't say your blog was too long, if anything too short! i live where publix grows but they have not offered extended classes here. i'm getting a new oven and want to start baking. i would love the opportunity to attend a reasonable priced class just to smell what was cooking. glad you had blast...i like publix too! :)
 
Mar. 29, 2012 4:53 am
Magnolia Blossom, thanks for stopping by. The basic knife skills course was very helpful. That day we all did a lot of chopping, slicing, and dicing for the dishes we prepared: french onion soup, pico de gallo, potato leek soup, and ratatouille.
 
Mar. 29, 2012 4:57 am
Hi Gary, Publix has one cooking school in Georgia so, hopefully, more will be on the way. The school in my area is on the second floor of one of their newer supermarkets and has cooking classes six days a week for the second quarter of 2012. Their classes are reasonably priced, and I think you get a lot for your money.
 
Mar. 29, 2012 5:41 am
What a fantastic blog! I saw this the other day but didn't have time for a read. Thanks for sharing the cool learning experience you had!
 
Mar. 29, 2012 7:17 am
That sounds like a lot of fun! I've been cooking for many, many years, but I know I could always learn a few things. And I already know that I tend to not hold my knife correctly...working on it, but it's so easy to revert back to habits! I haven't made homemade pasta,but it's on my list of things I want to do, and I'm jump at the chance to take a class. Glad you enjoyed, and thank you for sharing with us. The foods sounds yummy, too!
 
Mar. 29, 2012 11:51 am
Thanks Cat Hill. I was so concerned that this was so long that nobody would read it, but there was just so much I wanted to tell everybody about this cooking experience. And believe it or not, I really did edit out quite a bit. There was so much more I wanted to share, but it already was a chapter, and it was heading toward a book. Thanks for taking the time to read.
 
Rohnda 
Mar. 29, 2012 12:02 pm
Mmmmm... you made me hungry! I want a Publix!!! Sounds like you had a great time!
 
Mar. 29, 2012 12:05 pm
Thanks for your comments wisweetp. Learned so much, but it was a totally enjoyable experience too (good people in the class). As far as the knife skills go, I still revert back to bad habits occasionally, but less frequently these days. There were so many tips that I wanted to share in this blog. For example, if you're using your coffee grinder to grind your spices, after you're finished, put in some dry rice grains, and give it a whiz...removes most of the spice oils. Just things like that would have helped all of us. I've made homemade pasta the old fashioned, time consuming way, mixing by hand and rolling it out and then cutting. I stopped when the supermarket started carrying fresh fettucine. But that fettucine that was mixed in the food processor and then rolled and cut with the pasta attachment ($150 on Amazon) made it so easy (and so good) that I'm still wrapping my head around it and trying to convince myself that I can't live without it...hmmm, we'll see. And by the way, the food we prepared each week truly was fantastic!
 
Rohnda 
Mar. 29, 2012 12:20 pm
Mmmmm... you made me hungry! I want a Publix!!! Sounds like you had a great time!
 
Mar. 29, 2012 1:08 pm
Rohnda, their corporate office is just about 30 minutes away, but they are a big chain in the Florida and Georgia . I think Publix is the best Supermarket anywhere! (Although Trader Joe's would rank as my favorite "specialty market" store...they've just come to Florida.)
 
Mar. 29, 2012 2:12 pm
I thought it was perfect! Now I wonder what more there is you might share. I would love to go to a class like that! Too far away, darn it cause you made the whole thing sound and look fabulous!
 
Mar. 29, 2012 6:06 pm
I enjoyed reading your blog almost as much as you enjoyed your class, I will be looking for something like that in my area. It sounds like a whole lot of fun...
 
weeble 
Mar. 29, 2012 8:10 pm
wow, how lucky for you to be able to take this course :) i can relate to only a couple of things you mention. #1. the cheese rind. i've been tossing it in my pasta sauce for yrs. not sure where i picked up that trick, but it's a good one. #2. i too have been thinking about the pasta roller attatchment for my KA. i've made pasta a couple of times and have rolled it out using a rolling pin and while it's tasty and edible, i'd like to be able to get it as thin as i would really like it. ahhh one of these days :) i really enjoyed your blog. it wasn't too long, in fact, after your warning i was expecting it to be longer. good read lutz! :)
 
Mar. 30, 2012 5:10 am
Hi Joey K, if you ever have a chance to take a "basics" class similar to mine, go for it. It was fun and it was very worthwhile.
 
Mar. 30, 2012 5:31 am
Weeble, thanks for the comments. I see so many AR blogs that are short and to the point, and that's why I was concerned about the length of mine. I keep thinking about that pasta attachment and, honestly, I'm not sure that I would use it enough to justify the cost. But it was really cool, and that pasta was made so quickly. As a kid, I remember my mother making egg noodles and letting them dry overnight. These chefs said that is unnecessary, ours went right into the water and were delicious. They said if you want to make it in advance, just cover and refrigerate. We have a store locally that sells ONLY fresh ravioli and fresh pasta in all different flavors (take-out only). What fun it would be to experiment with that. I have a pkg of garlic-basil linguini that I bought recently at Trader Joe's, and now I'm thinking how easy it would be to make. I've not ruled it out yet, but I think it's best to wait on that purchase and see how feel about it a couple months from now. But it would make a nice gift, wouldn't it? Thanks for stopping by.
 
Mar. 30, 2012 5:42 am
Lutzflcat - What a great blog! So glad you were able to participate and thank you for sharing some of youe acquired knowledge. I was blessed to have a grandmother that taught me not to toss but to utilize and how to keep my knives sharp. Hope you made plans to stay in touch with your classmates - sound like sooo much fun. Buy that Kitchen Aid pasta attachment and have them over for a pasta party! Thanks for sharing!
 
Mar. 30, 2012 11:28 am
Shearone, thanks for reading my blog. Only 8 people in the class, and would you believe that one of the men literally lives on the next street...small world. A few of us did exchange phone numbers, so I think we'll stay in touch. And drumroll please, I just splurged and bought that KA pasta attachment. Got on Amazon, and the price had just gone up $50 (yikes). I found one source on the internet that had 2 left at the old price with free shipping and no tax, so I should be in pasta heaven next week (or carbohydrate nightmare possibly).
 
Mar. 31, 2012 2:10 pm
I think the blog was a good length... it sounds like you had so much fun taking the class. I'd love to do something similar. And oh, a pasta attachement, I'm jealous! Would you care to share for those of us not familiar with emulsifiers your revision of the vidalia onion dressing recipe?
 
Mar. 31, 2012 2:29 pm
Wow! Great learning experience! How fun, too! Thank you for sharing!
 
stella 
Mar. 31, 2012 7:18 pm
Wish I was also there to experience the learning there's always room for learning. Thanks for your insight.
 
Apr. 1, 2012 6:16 am
Hi Photobug, we absolutely love the vidalia onion dressing, and I doubt the fridge will ever be without this one. There are so many good salad dressing recipes on AR that I just don't buy the bottled stuff anymore, and they take just minutes to mix up. Here's the link to my custom version of the AR recipe: http://allrecipes.com/customrecipe/63157904/vidalia-onion-dressing/detail.aspx
 
Apr. 1, 2012 6:19 am
Mickdee, thanks for taking the time to read. This course really was fun. I now have a better appreciation of what four years of culinary school entails. This was just the "tip of the ice berg" on cooking knowledge, but I know I'll be a better cook for taking it.
 
Apr. 1, 2012 6:25 am
Stella, you are sooooo correct. Marie C., one first commenters on this blog, recommended "The Flavor Bible" as a good source for pairing flavors. I got on the internet, read reviews, and ordered it. That book as well as my pasta attachment should be here by Wednesday, so my head is spinning with possible flavor combos for pasta. Last night, we had Trader Joe's basil-garlic linguini for dinner, and I thought I can do this! Thanks for stopping by.
 
Apr. 2, 2012 5:06 am
Lutz...great blog...I'm a bit late, but enjoyed reading it. I didn't realize Publix offered such a course...I'm going to have to look into that. I think how much I've grown in my own knowledge in just the past two years since retirement since I know have more time for cooking. Baking is an area I'd love to explore more. Anyway glad you enjoyed your culinary class...Publix is really great.
 
Apr. 2, 2012 5:06 am
opps...since I "now" have more time...
 
Apr. 2, 2012 10:25 am
I've enjoyed cooking since I was a teenager but really never had much time to dedicate to it. Work and travel always seemed to get in the way. But same for me, since retirement, I now have as much time as I want to spend cooking. And I think I'd reached the point where I wanted to take it to the next level. This 6-week course has helped me do that (hopefully). Thanks for taking the time to read.
 
Apr. 2, 2012 10:25 am
Sherri, sorry, the above post was for you :-)
 
carla 
Apr. 3, 2012 6:43 am
I. Love. Publix!!! I no longer live in an area where Publix is at, but I enjoyed reading about your experience and passed the information along to my sister in law that lives in your area. People laugh at me, but when I visit my Florida relatives, I HAVE to go to Publix at least once while I'm there to get the things I just can't find in the rural area where I'm at. My brother works for a company that builds the stores and has advised me there will be a new Publix within an hours drive for me and that made my day!!! It's the little things, ya know! Thank you for sharing your experience!
 
Apr. 3, 2012 7:59 am
Hi Carla, yeah, I'm with you on loving Publix...it's simply the best! I occasionally shop other stores, but Publix definitely is my go-to supermarket, particularly if I have family or friends coming for a visit. Mostly because I know that they will have every single item on my grocery list which keeps me from having to stop at another store. I made a stuffed turkey breast for Thanksgiving last year, and all I saw in the meat case were bone-in turkey breasts. I asked the butcher if he had any boneless, he said no, but I can bone it for you. I asked him "how much?" and he said "no charge." Can you believe that? Only at Publix. I've lived in quite a few different states, and Publix definitely is tops in customer service. So glad to hear you have a store coming soon. Thanks for stopping by.
 
Phoebe 
Apr. 3, 2012 1:43 pm
On my TO DO list to take a course like that when I retire. Lucky you! : )
 
Apr. 3, 2012 8:36 pm
Superb blog! I would love to take a class like that. I seriously need some knife skills. My husband winces every time I pick up a knife. I did take a couple of classes through the city and learned how to make the tomatoe "mother" sauce. Now, we can it using our garden tomatoes. The skills you learned will stay with you forever.
 
Apr. 4, 2012 7:06 am
Phoebe, I hear you loud and clear because I HAVE recently retired. There simply aren't enough hours in the day to do everything you need (or want) to do. But retirement has been sweet and allowed me to finally do things like take a cooking course that had been on the back burner for a long time. Your day will come, so just hang in there.
 
Apr. 4, 2012 7:19 am
Thanks Candice. My husband was always joking about my "knife skills" (or lack thereof) and knows exactly where the band-aids are kept. Quite often I'd yell "I cut my finger," and he could retrieve one quickly. I remember in the first class saying to the chef that I find myself "sawing" when slicing. He said that's because your knives aren't sharp. And he's so right about that. I actually had an old electric knife sharpener tucked away in the closet. That baby was taken out of hibernation and now is up front and center on my kitchen counter. I sharpen my knives OFTEN, and it really makes such a difference. But then, if you don't know how to correctly handle a knife, I suppose the chance for a severed finger is even greater with really sharp knives, right? I'm not fast at it, but I am methodical, so maybe one day I'll chop, slice & dice as quickly as some of those Food Network chefs...highly unlikely At any rate, this course was extremely valuable to me and great fun, too.
 
 
 
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lutzflcat

Home Town
Cincinnati, Ohio, USA
Living In
Lutz, Florida, USA

Member Since
Jun. 2010

Cooking Level
Intermediate

Cooking Interests
Baking, Grilling & BBQ, Stir Frying, Asian, Mexican, Italian, Southern, Healthy, Quick & Easy, Gourmet

Hobbies
Gardening, Boating, Walking, Photography, Reading Books, Music, Wine Tasting

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About Me
Retired from a high-stress sales career which involved lots of travel. I now have the time to relax, turn off the alarm clock and sleep in, read a book, magazine or the newspaper (every day, not just Sunday) and, most importantly, take in everything that the Florida lifestyle offers, and that's a lot! And, finally, I have the luxury to really pursue a lifetime passion, cooking.
My favorite things to cook
Enjoy all kinds of food and cuisines, and I literally can't think of one food that I would refuse to eat. And that even includes liver (don't like cooking it, but sure like eating it). I love good food, but you won't find me making a recipe that has 40 ingredients. I just don't have the attention span for that.
My favorite family cooking traditions
My husband's grandmother was from Bavaria, and his mother learned to cook many of her old-country recipes which she then passed on to me. Our traditional Christmas dinner is sauerbraten (which marinates for at least five days) with gravy, homemade egg noodles sauteed in butter, potato balls (which float to the top of the boiling water if prepared correctly), sweet and sour red cabbage, and freshly cooked apples (gotta have something healthy). It's an exhausting meal that literally takes all day to prepare, but it's worth the effort. Yeah, I know it's also a carbohydrate nightmare, but what the heck, we only have it once a year.
My cooking triumphs
Mastering the Christmas sauerbraten meal was a victory. Also, making homemade goetta, a breakfast meat from Cincinnati. My version is made with all pork, equal portions of boston butt and loin. Today's goetta in Cincy has beef in it, as does the recipe on this site, but I'm sticking with ALL pork. It is totally unhealthy for you, but it's a treat, and I don't make it often.
My cooking tragedies
There have been a number over the years like the potato balls mentioned above just disintegrating into a puddle of potato shreds. There's no recipe, it's just a matter of "feeling right" when you're mixing. Not long ago, I made a peach pie and got so caught up in trying to make the pie crust work that I forgot to add the dry ingredients (sugar, flour, cinnamon, etc.) to the peaches that were sitting in a bowl on the counter. Cooked it anyway, it was ghastly, and then threw it away. My ongoing tragedy is making pie crust. There must a black cloud hanging over my head when I'm making pie crust because I ALWAYS have problems. But I'm not giving up, one day this tragedy will turn into a triumph and be listed above!
 
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