Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Cook Next Door Meme

Thanks to Nupur and Kelli for tagging me for this meme. I would also like to thank Nicki and Oliver for coming up with the idea. I just love this meme. I have been reading the entries as they are published and it is fun to learn a little bit more about the people behind the recipes.

What's your first memory of baking/cooking on your own?
I must have been about 10 years old and I was spending some time with my maternal grandparents at their farm. I used to love spending time there. I always felt free as a bird and my grandparents, let's face it, spoiled me rotten. For them I could do no wrong. Grandma loved to cook and bake. As a diabetic she could eat none of the fantastic cakes and cookies she baked, but her house was always full of people who had no trouble polishing off whatever she made. One day I said I wanted to bake a cake. She gave me an egg and said to use sugar, butter, and flour as I needed. So I started beating some butter and sugar, added the egg, added flour until I got the consistency that I remember her cakes had, put the cake in a greased pan and into the oven. To everybody's astonishment, most of all my own, the cake came out pretty good. Nice and moist. Grandma coudn't stop singing my praises and I walked around more inflated than a baloon. In my second attempt, full of self-confidence, I did not pay as much attention to the consistency of the batter and my cake came out dry and hard as a rock. I was crushed. But the memory of that first success in the kitchen has never left me.

Who had the most influence on your cooking?
I would have to say the cookbooks and also my grandmother and my mother. They were both very good cooks and I saw my grandmother cook when I spent time at the farm, but in my parents house, in Africa, we always had a cook so mom and I mostly baked or made dessert. When I got married it downed on me that I was sadly unprepared to feed my husband, unless he would go for a strict diet of cakes and puddings.

Do you have an old photo as "evidence" of an early exposure to the culinary world?
This picture was taken when I was about 16 years old, again at my grandmother's farm. I'm showing off the first "Southern Belle" cake I made.

Mageiricophobia - do you suffer from any cooking phobia, a dish that makes your palms sweat?
Flaky pastry. I made it once and wasn't pleased with the results. As a result, I have't worked with flaky pastry that much. I don't necessarily like to use store-bought and I have't come up with the guts to try again.

What are your most valued or used kitchen gadgets and/or what was the biggest letdown?
For most used I would have to say my hand blender. I use it all the time to pure soups, beat sauces, even make mayonnaise. My best friend in the kitchen. The biggest letdown was the mandoline. I used to have a cheap one which I discarded because it was cumbersome to use. I recently bought a better quality one but still find it cumbersome to use. I am affraid to purchase the top-of-the-line just in case I end up not able to work comfortably with it.

Name some funny or weird food combinations/dishes you really like - and probably no one else does.
Condensed milk, which I eat by the teasponnful straight from the can. This is a long-standing love affair. In Africa, specially in the middle of the jungle, there was no fresh milk available so families relied on both powdered milk (Klim) and condensed milk (several brands). When I was a kid I used to eat toast with condensed milk and my very favourite cooked "cereal" was a thick paste of cornstartch cooked with water to which I would add about half-a-can on condensed milk.

What are the three edibles or dishes you simply don't want to live without?
Milk, bread, and cheese.

Any question you missed in this meme, that you would have loved to answer? Well then, feel free to add one!
Three quickies:

Your favorite ice-cream

You will definitely never eat...
Can't think of anything I will not try at least once.

Your own signature dish...
Sopa de grão com espinafres (chickpea and spinach soup) and Favas Guisadas com Chouriço (Braised Fava Beans with Chorizo).

So now I would like to tag fellow Canadian Food Bloggers Elizabeth, from Blog from our Kitchen, Sara, at I Like to Cook, and Templar, from Food Ninja. Hope you'll enjoy this as much as I did.


Nupur said...

Ana, what wonderful was really fun to read this. Thanks for playing along!
The picture of you with the southern belle cake is simply adorable.

Elvira said...

Que linda mocinha era, Ana!

FoodNinja said...

Answer... I been Tagged... Yaaaaa