Thursday, 1 November 2012

My Favourite Chef

My wife is into cooking.  Not the same way that Julia Child was but she still has a pretty fair love of the art.  She watches many of the popular cooking shows, has a nice collection of cook books, and even collects recipes that she tears out from magazines (from doctors waiting rooms).
She’s not one of those cooks who use a pinch of this and a handful of that.  She’s a lot more scientific about it.  Specific measuring devices are used for every ingredient, thermometers, scales and timers to ensure exact precision.

And to her credit, she has created and re-created many fabulous dishes.  Like most successful house wives these days, she also holds down a job.  Yes, it’s in one of those fancy schmancy kitchen supply stores you see in nice shopping centres around the country.  So, she is also an expert on the latest and greatest pots, pans, appliances and gadgets that will make your cooking life more efficient, delicious and fashionable.

She loves it and I am one lucky son of a gun because of her devotion to food.  But that doesn’t mean I have a live-in chef who caters to my every whim.  On the contrary, she’s only human and the pressures of life get to us all from time to time.  That’s when we hear the immortal words “slack tea” shouted as she staggers in the door from a hard day of peddling Faberge egg timers and diamond coated frying pans.

Slack Tea means every man for himself at dinner time and it’s very rare for us to buy take away food because we would rather spend our money at a good restaurant than at Maca’s or World of pizza.  Slack tea is fine for my son and me as we both enjoy cooking occasionally.  Something elegant and simple like microwave meat pies or baked beans on toast.

Of course there are those days when she isn’t feeling well but still feels the responsibility and need to put something on the dinner plate for us.  Last time this happened she had a cold and felt miserable.  On her way out of the shopping centre after work she stopped at the fresh chicken shop and bought dinner in a bag.  It was a sealed foil bag containing Spanish style chicken and rice.  Just throw it in the oven and in 40 minutes or so voila, gourmet cuisine for the whole family.

She was exhausted and sick but wouldn’t leave the kitchen until the bloody thing was finished.  She tore open the bag and there were some raw chunks of chicken surrounded by savoury rice floating in under-cooked chicken juice.  Oh the devastation.  I shuffled her off before the tears started to flow, to have a nice hot shower and get into her PJ’s and to relax on the lay-z-boy until I came up with something.  Out came the frying pans.  One pan was for the chicken, and one pan for the rice.  I got both sizzling along nicely and then I hit the chicken with a liberal shake of Kentucky fried chicken seasoning, my secret weapon.  It had been sitting in a can in the pantry for months.  I stopped stirring the rice once I thought it was cooked through and just left it there to get a bit of a crust on the bottom.
The old fry up never fails and we all enjoyed my rescued fried chicken and rice.  It doesn’t really matter how well I come to the rescue, it’s always a delight when my talented wife puts the apron back on and serves up something fabulous for dinner from her Jamie Oliver cook book, or something from Margaret Fulton, Julie Goodwyn, Gordon Ramsay, George Colombaris, Heston, or any other of her beloved food idols.
When it comes to cooking technique, I think she is a celebrity chef impersonator.  And that’s probably the best compliment any of them can ever get.  Maybe I should send them all the good news and let them know how lucky I am that their recipes are being cooked by Kelly, my very own celebrity chef.

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