Rantings From A Food Critic

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Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

I’m not your typical food critic. I don’t go to restaurants, scare the employees, order several dishes from the menu, and then write my opinions in the most sought after review columns.

Nope. Not me.

I’m the worst kind of critic. I HATE FOOD.

Hate is a pretty strong word, don’t you think? I dislike food – intensely.

I get very little joy out of food. I eat because I have to eat. People have told me they wish they could be like me. No – you don’t. Really. Trust me.

It’s super hard to come up with meal ideas when you don’t want to eat anything. I’m never in the mood for anything. I mean – NEVER.  I never crave anything either. (Except chocolate and caramel.) Not even when I was pregnant. The task of preparing meals for the Noodges and the Coffee King is daunting. I never know where to begin since I don’t care about the result. Food is for survival purposes only.

Obviously, I know which food groups are good for you. I use chicken, fish, and poultry as my base and build from there. But to say I’m in the mood for herb crusted chicken blah, blah, blah with a side of green yada, yada, yada won’t happen.

When I was a kid, my Italian mother would stand above me and shout, “but what’s there not to like? It’s only sausage and potatoes!” My Pop-Pop, (Italian grandfather straight off the boat) often asked when I refused to eat anything with tomato sauce, “What kind of an Italian are you?” The kind that likes cannolis, Italian cookies, Italian bread, and pretty much anything my professional baker Pop-Pop could make.

It wasn’t until I was in my forties that I discovered the source of my problem. I’m a supertaster. I have too many taste buds. (This is a real thing. I’m not making it up.) Lots of foods like broccoli, coffee, anything sour, taste really bitter to me. You should’ve been there when I accidentally ate broccoli rabe at a conference luncheon and needed to spit it out – immediately. It wasn’t pretty. What tastes like normal food to others taste terrible to me. In fact, I’m not sure I know what “normal” tastes like. I prefer to stick to anything bland. Macaroni with butter is an all time favorite of mine. On those Sunday dinners growing up, my grandmother would pull out some of the spaghetti for me and put butter on it before she dumped her homemade sauce on the rest.

So, tell me. What’s your favorite dish? What’s on the menu tonight?

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Are You A Crock Pot?

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Are you a crock pot?

I hate to cook. Yup, hate it. I eat because I have to. I rarely enjoy a meal and I never crave anything. Not even while I was pregnant. You might think eating only when one has to is a good thing, but believe me, it isn’t. Why? Because I live with three other people and they seem to think I’m the head chef around here. How that happened is beyond me, except for the fact I’m the only one who can find anything in the refrigerator. It’s hard to plan for meals when you’re never in the mood for anything. A bowl of cereal for dinner would be fine by me, but there is the dilemna of those three people again.

With the start of the school year only days away, I’m going to be faced with having to plan for meals in advance again. Truthfully, planning for meals is a giant pain in my butt. However, I prefer the Noodges eat dinner as close to the dinner hour as possible and not at nine o’clock at night. (No offense to those of you who use that 9pm method, but that’s not a good fit for my house.) So, in order to eat at a reasonable time I must be prepared. Sometimes there isn’t enough time to throw something together in between driving back and forth to their activities. There is a solution to this. It’s called the crock pot. Do you use one? I do. Scary, I know.

The crock pot is a great invention. A little history from Wikipedia: The Naxon Utilities Corporation of Chicago, under the leadership of Irving Naxon, developed the Naxon Beanery All-Purpose Cooker. Naxon was inspired by a story his Jewish grandmother told about how back in her native Lithuanian shtetl, her mother made a stew called cholent, which took several hours to cook in an oven.[2] The Rival Companybought Naxon in 1970 and reintroduced it under the Crock-Pot name in 1971. Slow cookers achieved popularity in the US during the 1970s when many women began to work outside the home. They could start dinner cooking in the morning before going to work and finish preparing the meal in the evening when they came home.[citation needed] In 1974, Rival introduced removable stoneware inserts[3] making the appliance easier to clean. The brand now belongs to Sunbeam Products, a subsidiary of Jarden Corporation. Other brands of this appliance include Hamilton Beach, West Bend Housewares, GE, Magic Chef, and former American Electric Corporation.

I don’t mind preparing a meal in the morning when my energy level is still high as opposed to the dinner hour when I’d rather take a nap, but can’t because my chauffeur hat is on. Knowing that my dinner is cooking while I’m busy writing and the Noodges are at school brings me a sense of peace. No, “what the heck am I going to make for dinner?” No funny looks from my family because we’re eating pasta with butter again. (Which by the way, is one of my favorite meals.) If I could, I’d use that stupid crock pot every night. Here’s the problem. I only have three recipes I know how to make and that the family will eat.

A call for help! I’m asking you, my faithful reader, no begging you in fact, to please help this pathetic mother/head chef and share with me your crock pot recipes. They must be easy because I don’t have the patience for anything with too many steps. And I have a small caveat, I can’t make pork. Noodge 1 and his father practice the part of their religion that states not to eat pork. I know…can they make this any harder?

In return, I will share baking tips with you. You see, I may hate to cook, but I love to bake. I took after my Italian grandfather who came to this country and became a baker. He made pastries and cookies like nobody’s business.

Please, join forces with me so my Noodges will have a variety of foods to eat and I can continue to be the kind of mother they still want to speak with. And you can dazzle your family and friends with sweet delicacies right from your oven. What do you say, faithful reader? Are you a Crock Pot?