My mom is an excellent cook. I can only remember one thing in my entire life that she cooked that was not good. It was a crab casserole. I've also heard that her experiment with flan went badly. But other than that, her track record is unscathed. She cooks, she bakes, she preserves, she does it all, and she does it all well. Despite this, I didn't really learn to cook until my junior year of college, when I had an apartment with some wonderful girls. That was the first time in my life when I really had to fend for myself when it came to meal time. (Emily and I were usually co-collaborators, so maybe "fending for myself" isn't exactly what was going on, but you get the idea.) That year was a strange and exciting year of culinary discovery and bizarre cravings... stuffed peppers, scrambled eggs, crab rangoons, and of course, midnight pancakes.
But one of my favorite things to do come meal time was to call my excellent cook of a mother and say, "I don't know what to make for dinner," and she would say, "Well, what do you have?" I would list off the random ingredients in our scantily-stocked refrigerator and cabinets, and she would come up with the most lovely concoctions that were tasty and easy to make. Win-win. During that year, I learned that a kitchen stocked with lime juice, olive oil, garlic salt, salsa, chicken, rice, pasta, crackers, eggs, cream of something soup, and frozen vegetables could take you a long way.
The other night, I got a new cookbook because Jason and I went shopping to get him a new pair of shorts. So naturally, we came home with a cookbook. It's a Taste of Home cookbook. I just love Taste of Home because it's basically like a church potluck cookbook. It has real recipes made by real people with real ingredients that you find at real grocery stores. And it has pretty pictures.
As I was flipping through the pages one night, trying to decide what to make for dinner, not wanting to defrost chicken, I noticed that a few ingredients turned up in a lot of recipes, and I was inspired to rummage through my kitchen, see what I had, and throw it all together. I fried up some bacon. I steamed some broccoli, I made my delicious alfredo sauce, adding a little bacon grease for continuity of flavor, and I cooked up some linguine and tossed it all together into this strange little combination and announced that dinner was ready.Jason is a very kind person. He raved about how delicious it was and how quickly it came together. I thought it was a little weird...strange textures, too much broccoli--maybe asparagus next time. But it was filling and satisfying and not gross, and I didn't have to defrost any chicken after all. Win-win.