Amy fact of the day: I can’t cook. True story. I am a grade-A calamity in the kitchen. The (admittedly few) attempts I’ve made to remedy this fact have always included one or more of the following: a measuring error, a missing ingredient, an injury, a lot of smoke and/or an absurd amount of help from a capable adult.
But it’s all good, because I
love cereal and pizza live with Paul – and he not only enjoys cooking, he’s also awesome at it! I really admire how much thought and effort he puts into every meal – coming up with new spins on classics, modifying a recipe for his picky housemate, or fearlessly trying something completely different for the first time (homemade Ramen – yum!). And during each meal, he’s paying close attention to any improvements or changes he could make.
The combination of my inability to cook, and Paul’s passion for cooking, has definitely solidified my “I can’t cook” mantra. But – there are 2 things I specialize in, and get creative with, in the kitchen: fruit salads and pancakes! Whenever I need to bring a dish somewhere I either beg Paul to make something or offer to bring a fruit salad. And anytime friends or family stay overnight at our house, they can expect a pile of fluffy pancakes the next morning.
I made a fruit salad for a get-together this weekend, and while I was in my zone of washing, cutting, peeling and slicing I realized how much I really enjoy making fruit salads. I put a lot of thought into what fruits to combine, avoiding any fruits that aren’t in season, aren’t ripe, or might overwhelm the overall flavor (I’m looking at you pineapple!).
I take a lot of time cutting each piece into the just-right-size so that you get a good combo of flavors with each bite. I also alternate each type of fruit I’m cutting so that I can layer all of the different types in. That means if I started with peaches, about 6 fruits later, I’ll be cutting a peach again to get a layer near the top. This is more time-consuming, but totally worth it: no need to stir (and possibly mush) the fruit – it all gets evenly distributed while I cut. Quick tip: keep a “garbage bowl” nearby while you cut for pits, bruised pieces, stems, etc. This is easier than running back and forth to the garbage or taking up cutting board real estate.
Pancakes are as close as I get to cooking, but it barely even counts because I use Aunt Jemima pancake mix (although, it is the kind that uses milk, eggs and oil)! Although, my father uses the same mix and he has set the bar to what an amazing pancake should look (golden brown), feel (light and fluffy) and taste (no syrup necessary!) like. He is the pancake master, and every weekend I strive to make mine even half as good as his. Anytime my parents visit, the pressure is kicked up a notch, but he swears they’re always delicious.
My Dad and I always joke about opening a pancake house, but we can’t agree on a name. He thinks it should be “Uncle Bill’s” and I think it should be “AmyCakes” :P
We also often discuss our pancake-cooking tips & discoveries, as well as ingredients we’ve experimented with, such as: fruit, cinnamon, a little vanilla or honey. Additions is where I’ve really tried to get creative. I’ve tried all different types of fruit (I always guarantee a bite of fruit in every bite!) – but I’ve also experimented with granola, and this past weekend: Fruity Pebbles! It’s been a while, but I recall granola being a success, whereas I rate Fruity Pebble Pancakes an A+ for looks, but a C for taste. It was worth a shot though!
Hey, I may not be able to cook…but I can be invaluable at a brunch :P