You Want Me to Buy a What Maker? ?

Something is happening to our baking, frying and dough shaping skills! :(

At least someone thinks so...

I think it's reached epidemic proportions because you can't turn around before another innovation in the field of  bakeware, uuh, excuse me ... "Novelty Electrics" pops up!

Apparently, a slew of us no longer know how to pour cupcake batter into a muffin tin and place in an oven to bake, someone decided to make a gadget that bakes cupcakes. Phew!

Oh, and we can't cut dough into rounds that puff up when cooked, so we need a doughnut hole baking gadget. Seriously?

I learned that eggs need to be fried in circular molds in an Egg cooking gadget so they look like uniform flying saucers.

egg mold
egg mold

And dare you bake Brownies in anything but a pre-sliced and ready to serve sectioned pan?  We've been convinced that 'edges' are tastier than the gooey center pieces, so apparently we need brownies that have 4 outer crust edges.

Nordic Ware Platinum Brownie Bites Baking Pan

Finally, for the thousands of us who have tried and tried, but still can't manage to roll puff pastry around mini hotdogs to make pigs-in-a-blanket for the tailgater... FEAR NOT! -- the Perfect, Photogenic, Pesky,  Personal Pigs-in-a-Blanket Baker has come to the rescue! (say that three times in a row...)

I  don't mean to sound old-fashioned (when did that become an old-fashioned word?), BUT likerolling dough with a wood rolling-pin that I've had for 15 years; I like shaping dough with my hands; I enjoy putting a tray full of dough thingies in my oven and having each creation be a tiny bit different from the one next to it.

I want my fried egg to be slightly asymmetrical, with fluted wings around the perfect golden center.

fried eggs
fried eggs

And if you don't like the gooey middle cuts of my Brownies...well, boo you!

Sinfully Brownie

I don't need a rice cooker because I AMa rice cooker! :D

The only 'gadgets' I own and use enough to warrant having them, are my Crock-pot (God Bless it's hard-working soul), and my new BOSS (I bow to its oil-less creations).

I own the perfectly acceptable and necessary kitchen electrics... a high quality mixer, a food processor, a toaster oven, a masticating juicer, waffle maker and a powerful blender.

And who has room for all those extra Novelty Baking doodads?  Do they last more than 2 years before they fall apart? Are you really still cooking with Teflon coated cookware? I threw mine out 2 years ago, and that was rather belated.

I feel it's honoring the skills my mother taught me to knead, roll, cut, stuff and crimp dough.  No one is going to rob me of the pleasure I get from doing so.

My son and his cousin were 14 when we sat around our kitchen table, and I taught them how to stuff grape leaves.  They did a marvelous job.  In 15 years if someone decides we need a grape-leaf-stuffing-and-rolling gadget, I hope those two refuse to buy it.

I hope they remember the day we sat together joking about the juices squirting all over as they rolled each leaf, and my telling stories about helping my mother make fabulous dishes that took 2 or 3 hours to complete. I hope they remember the pride they felt when I served our family the grape leaves at dinner, and praised the boys for a job well done.

Den 0311
Den 0311

And when they sit around their kitchen table teaching their children how to crimp a spinach pie or stuff grape leaves, maybe they'll have a story to tell about me.

 Here's to being old-fashioned! Yes? ♥

Appealing to the Eye

"Appealing" is defined as: Attractive, inviting, or pleasing. Since sight is the first sense that experiences food we are served, the presentation should attract, invite and please the eye, and promise the palate that it too shall be delighted.

Before I was old enough to understand this concept,  I used to watch as Mom spent hours decorating the dozen or more dishes that would garland the dining room table whenever we had company.

A dinner for 30 - 40 guests was a common occurrence in our house, since cooking was Mom's passion, and Dad's work necessitated socializing.

Between 1969 and 1974 Mom re-created every dish she knew how to make and invented over three dozen of her own, to include in the cookbook her friends pushed her to write "Dishes and Flavors of the East".  It was the first compendium of its type, capturing many recipes from around the Middle East and North Africa, which she collected and improved upon over the years.

Since Mom never measured, it was a 5-year-long effort to capture and record the correct amount of each ingredient. It sometimes took 2  - 3 tries to get a recipe right.

dinner party Aley 1970's
dinner party Aley 1970's

A dinner for 25 guests - 1972

She would literally spend an hour on the plate of Spice Rice Pudding, creating a mandala with pistachios, almonds, walnuts and pine nuts. Her friends would hesitate to disturb these works of art to serve themselves.

I don't have actual photos unfortunately, since most of our possessions were victims of the unrest in Lebanon...I took photos of pictures in her cookbook as an example.

spice pudding decorated by Sittou
spice pudding decorated by Sittou

Yaqout's Spice Rice Pudding with Nuts

Another example of her work and one of my favorite rice puddings, flavored with Orange Blossom water, is below.

Rice pudding_ Sittou
Rice pudding_ Sittou

Middle Eastern Rice Pudding with Glazed Apricots, Pistachios and Pine Nuts

Putting conscious care into what ever it is we do, is bound to elevate the benefit of the service that 'thing' offers its recipient, whether it's food, a project, a handcrafted item, etc..

It's impossible not to feel the effect of someone's sincere and best effort.  Anything done with love carries love's vibration, one of the highest energy vibrations on Earth.

Mom sitting with us when we were sick, was enough to make us feel better. She used to silently repeat God's name for the better part of each day.  How could we not heal faster around her?  They say God is contained in His name. :)

Well, it's the same with work we do...what we pour into it, others will get out of it.  In my own catering service I saw this principal at work.  The simplest appetizers or meals would elicit the type of acclaim one would expect for exotic creations. People were reacting to the mindfulness and love I insist on bringing to my cooking.

This approach applied to whatever we do becomes a Meditation.  It lifts us and our companions...it expresses and generates love...and it demonstrates that we are grateful for the skills we've been given and want to use them to serve others.

So many of your blogs speak in this way to me.  I congratulate you and thank you.

 Cheers! ♥

~ Hoda