Cooking is the New Spectator Sport

Youke is cooking

I see you are preparing something delicious. Can I help?

I don’t cook much these days. I find it hard to cook for just myself most of the time and I’m far too impatient, and hungry, most of the time to actually go through the preparation process. That said, I do, mostly, enjoy cooking.

Of course, my cooking may horrify some. Remember That’s Just a Suggestion, Right?

However, my dogs find cooking endlessly fascinating.

Brady cooking

Right behind you. Over here. Do you need me to sample something for you?

The kitchen is the central point of my house, both literally and figuratively. So very many good things happen in that room.

The dogs have always been excellent about laying down quietly while I go about my business. Underfoot, but quiet. I have just learned to navigate around them. I figure it’s good for my agility and spacial awareness skills.

The young newcomer to the tribe, Rhys, did not understand this remaining quiet, still, and ever hopeful, bit at first. Youke, Brady and Camm have learned that by remaining quiet and still, and yet underfoot, I’m sure to eventually manage to drop something. Better yet, they’ve found I’m usually pretty generous.

This is one of the many, many things that my dogs have learned that I did not actively set out to teach them. They discovered that if they were annoying or jumping at me or being rude by attempting to grab something, they got banished to a crate or to another room.

It did not take long for Rhys to learn to lay on the floor quietly during any food preparation. Well, except when it involves his own.

Rhys and Youke Cooking

I’m being a good dog!

Much to Youke’s continuing dismay and disgust on all things that involve Rhys, Rhys has chosen as his quiet watching spot in the kitchen, the exact same rug as what Youke lies upon. In fact, Rhys has decided that laying down right next to Youke is his ideal spot.

This infuriates Youke.

However, he has decided to tolerate it, barely, because, well, food could be dropped and he is way faster and more experienced than that rude little interloper.

So, there I was this afternoon, home a bit early from work and I was seized with the desire to make a meal.

Okay, really, I just had some stew meat that I bought a little over a week ago that really needed to be cooked.

Don’t be alarmed. It was still good. Besides, that shit gets cooked.

I decided to make a beef stew. But I didn’t want to mess with the slow cooker. I realize many find this a handy and convenient kitchen aid. I rarely use mine, because, well, Youke is a counter surfer in my absence from the house.

I dredged the stew meat in some flour, salt and a lot of pepper and opted to add a half bottle of oregano I found hanging around in the cupboard. I find dried oregano fairly useless, so not sure why I had it. I’d much rather use fresh herbs.

Once I had placed the beef into the cast iron pot to brown, I realized I might not have all of the proper ingredients for a beef stew. But then I thought that maybe I should look a recipe up. Then I thought about how long that would take. Then I decided I’d just wing it.

As that thought process was occurring, I realized I’d used way too much flour. My beef was sort of browning, but the roux was seriously thick.

Time to add some liquid to the pot.

I found a half-used bottle of white balsamic vinegar on the shelf by the stove and poured that in. I also saw a half-full bottle of white cooking wine on the shelf. So I poured that in too.

The beef mixture was still too thick and flour-y looking. So I poured in a can of chicken broth. Because of course I had no beef broth.

Now the mixture was looking better, but I realized it probably had no taste. So I added a can of tomato paste. That resulted in a surprisingly decent flavor.

But something was still missing.

I shuffled around in the refrigerator, looking for perhaps a bottle of beer to add. All I found though was hard ciders, apple and pineapple. Neither appealed to me.

003

Um. I see a lot of good stuff in here.

Then I spotted a can of ginger ale. Ah, inspiration! I poured in half of the can and sipped on the remainder.

I decided that trekking again downstairs for some potatoes was too much of a task, so I opted to peel and cut up some parsnips I had for the corned beef dinner I never made last month instead. Ditto for some carrots.

I still thought I was missing a vegetable product though. Inspired, I ended up trekking downstairs into the garage anyway to get a can of diced tomatoes to add.

After tasting it, I thought it was good, but could still use a little oomph. I looked to my right and saw the cans of coconut milk I’d purchased when I was seized by the urge to make Thai curry one day while shopping at Trader Joe’s. The moment had passed by the time I arrived home and hasn’t made a comeback. I added a can of coconut milk.

But I’d thrown this all together in the space of about 35 minutes, it wasn’t ready to eat. The vegetables had to soften and the meat had to cook a but more in the liquid, which was now of an appealing texture and no longer gloppy.

So I took the dogs for a game of Ball and a short hike.

When I returned home two hours later, my stew was ready.

It was delicious. The dogs confirmed this when they licked my serving spoon and bowl after I ate.

Feeling pleased with myself this evening, I rummaged through the refrigerator looking for space to place my pot of stew. In the process, I realized I had an open and half-used carton of milk in there. Thinking it’d be nice to a glass of milk to wash the stew taste down, I grabbed the carton …

… and simultaneously realized as I opened it that the contents were spoiled (sorta green actually) and that it had an alleged expiration date of sometime in January.

Hmmm. I didn’t think it had been that long since I’d bought milk.

004

Let me in here more and I’ll make sure nothing expires!

 

 

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