A couple of years ago, the Food Network broadcast a cooking game show called Cutthroat Kitchen. I found it fairly annoying, truth be told, as there was this tendency among the competitors to go a little over-the-top with their cutthroat machismo. Kitchens don’t need to be rewarding that. Good god. The show was hosted by Alton Brown, whose Good Eats I found pretty interesting, even dare I say educational at times. (His is the video of how to poach an egg I have watched over and over before I got it right.) Cutthroat Kitchen is not one of his finer moments.
Kin often jokes that, instead of the ridiculous challenges that Alton Brown made those Cutthroat Kitchen competitors undertake – using only a teacup as a mixing bowl or something – that one could make a great show by tasking chefs with cooking an amazing meal using only the appliances and equipment available in your average AirBnB and what one person can carry home from a grocery store within walking distance from it.
You have to decide if you’ll buy wine or a nice olive oil. You have to calculate how many pounds of potatoes or pounds of meat you can carry. If the recipe calls for 3 tablespoons of flour, you’re still stuck buying a whole bag. Even a small bag of flour weighs a pound or so. Can you carry both the flour and fresh fruit?
And then there’s the kitchen itself. Stocked with knives, you hope, but dull knives and small knives and nothing that will cut bread or filet fish. No cutting board. No saucepan. No measuring cups or spoons. The baking sheet too big for the oven. The oven that may or may not be reaching the desired temperature. Burners that may or may not turn on. There’s a microwave though. But that is disqualifying.
And by “this would be a great show” Kin means “this is your life.”
We’re currently in an AirBnB in Seattle while we look for an apartment here. (That’s a whole other story.) I’m determined to bake and cook as I had been doing since we’d returned to LA from NYC.
Kin noticed, when we arrived here on Monday, that there was molasses in the cupboard and a cookie sheet. So I figured I’d make cookies yesterday. Or rather, he chanted “Cookies! Cookies!” so I had little choice but try.
I know the recipe for molasses cookies by heart; I’ve made them a hundred times, and they’re Kin’s favorite. I went to the grocery store and managed to remember everything I’d need: baking soda, flour, vanilla, eggs, butter, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, and granulated sugar (to roll them in). I got back here and realized that the molasses was expired. It smelled and tasted okay, so I pressed on. There were no measuring spoons. No quarter-cup measuring cup. But I thought that as I knew what the consistency of the dough should look like, I could eyeball things. I cracked the egg into the butter and brown sugar and molasses mixture. It had a double yolk. Perfect.
The cookies came out okay. Usually they’re delicious. This time, I’ll just say that they’re soft and they’re edible.
Tonight, I made chicken and noodles. I don’t know why I set myself up for this. I knew last night that the knives were all dull. The recipe today said “mince the onion.” Reader, these onions could barely count as “coarsely chopped.” There was literally no way that, as the recipe asked, I could take my 4-pound chicken fryer and cut it into pieces before putting in a pot and covering with water. But there was a pot – a pot big enough for the bird to cook. And the meal turned out pretty damn good, all things considered.
Kin congratulated me, even. Looks like I’m moving on to the next round.