I’ve been retired now for the past 10 years, and I’m enjoying the hell out of it! When I retired, I determined to learn how to bake excellent breads, and to spend much of my free time perusing my collection of 1000+ cookbooks for cooking inspiration (I read cookbooks like others read novels). I think it’s fair to say that the quality of our meals has steadily improved over these past 10 years.
Although baking and cooking are my prime avocational interests, I also enjoy gardening, growing various fruits, mushrooming, crabbing and clamming. Indoors, I enjoy listening to music, reading, playing on the computer, and watching documentaries every night.
Health-wise, I’m trying to learn how to break a life-long habit of after dinner desserts, and trying to learn how -after 30 years of 5 hours of nightly sleep- to get a full 8 hours of sleep each night. Wish me luck.
I honestly believe a cook only really learns how to cook when they are ‘forced’ by necessity to make adjustments in what they are cooking. If one refuses to do that, they never get a feel for cooking.
And I bet I know what that really delicious fruit cake is: Mrs Harvey’s White Fruitcake.
I too have always been fascinated by the parts of animals commonly not eaten - and I’ve tried many. I love good liver, but not pig liver. Recently, I’ve been cooking up beef heart in a red wine braise, with lots of mushrooms, carrots, onions, etc. I think most would be hard pressed to tell the difference between heart and chuck - and at $1.50 a lb, its a budget fav.
Years ago, I began buying up community cookbooks on eBay - I probably have 1,000 now - but it wasn’t until recently that I realized what a cultural treasure these books are. America is still in the process of developing a food culture, and these little cookbooks are a reflection of our nation’s culinary development. If one looks on them as ‘diaries’ of our food history, they become fascinating on many levels, not the least being a treasury of rare and forgotten old family favorites.
Your post reminds me that, for the most part, the general public is unaware of the natural tensions that exist among the work staff of any really busy food service environment. My own experience was as a line cook in the kitchen, and I remember well the adversarial relationship between the wait-staff and the cooks - there were times when the tension and stress was thick enough to slice, and some things were said that if they occurred outside of the restaurant environment, they’d cause serious emotional damage. But not so in the kitchen.
Amazingly, when all parties later gathered in the staff break-room, not a word of the previous tensions was ever mentioned, and only laughter and smiles prevailed - it was always a fascinating emotional shift, and one that I’m sure added much to my maturation as a young adult.
I’ve gone through a bad period of some five years during which every time I tried to cook dried beans, they’d take forever - so I kept buying new ones - but they too were old, apparently. I was beginning to feel cursed. Then I started to buy my dry beans at our local health food store, and I’ve never had a problem since - and I discovered that their prices are even less than the big grocery!
I’ve got one additional idea that is guaranteed to make sure you don’t overload your refrigerator - trade in your normal single door model for a side-by-side. We had a 25 cubic ft single door fridge that was feeling its age - so we got a 25 cf side-by-side model, thinking they were equal. Wrong! We discovered that the side-by-side only held apx half what the old fridge could hold. Amazing.
But, after our surprise and disappointment, we discovered a silver lining - now we can’t fill the fridge with leftovers as we did before, and we are eating much more of that food. A pleasant surprise.
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