Yes, it was an EZ Bake Oven that cooked with a 120 watt light bulb. I made their pretzel mix and had goo all over my hands and had no clue I could fool their stupid mix and just add more flour! Now I make dough every week and compensate for humidity. I even have a magnetic hygrometer mounted on the frig (check online for cigar supplies, they’re about $12, it’s a Caliber III) and add water until it’s right. I got it to keep me from electrocuting myself when we lived in the Rockies and it was usually under 20% humidity.
Back in the day, we didn’t cook by our mother’s side. We had our own kiddie kitchen (in the basement) and EZ Bake Oven. I did make a chocolate cake in it that turned out well but probably only used it a few times.
I prefer today’s method where the parent actually teaches a child to cook at the child’s pace so that when he/she goes to college or sets off for a first job, they know how to feed themselves, frugally and without fast food.
That was what I was trying to volunteer for last week when I was dismissed for knowing the boss’ email and about their need for volunteers and was demanded to explain myself and why my cell phone area code is from out of state. I’m a cook, trying to install community gardens in schools in poor neighborhoods so these kids can have their own culinary firsts; first fruit or vegetable; growing things; and eating fresh and healthy foods. Mine is a nefarious quest, to be sure. The boss probably runs the local fast food joint!
A couple of years ago I was tasked to make a packaged blueberry muffin mix at my in-laws for Thanksgiving weekend. My young nephew volunteered to help. I taught him how to fold, telling him it was a batter and not a battering ram and to fold as not to crush the fresh blueberries. They weren’t fresh, it was a mix, but he got the point instantly. Here this summer, he made pizza dough. I love seeing his cooking “firsts.”
For years my sister and I tried to surprise Mom with sweet rolls and breakfast in bed. She always knew what we were doing and came out to eat our creations, usually refrigerated orange-glazed and cinnamon rolls. We were allowed to turn on the oven but not to use a knife, luckily because back then it would have been an awful knife that was dull and could really have hurt us.
Let me tell you about my second first date. My first date I was sixteen and this boy, 18, was cute and very popular. He went out with me twice then took spring break and slept with a cheerleader he saw for the next two years. Let’s just say she probably knew what my parents were worried about when they made me be home by ten.
After I spent a year in college, the first week home he called and asked me out again. We went to a fish place and as I loved salmon I ordered a salmon steak. Skin and bones and I had no way to negotiate it delicately. So I decided to learn. Oh, we almost married several years later but I called it off. Luckily as now I have Prince Charming, nearly ten years since our wedding day….
But I digress. To make a salmon steak easy to eat, as the French would do, put a raw salmon steak squarely in front of you with the spine at the top. Using a sharp fish knife or boning knife, cut down around the bones all the way to the bottom on both insides.
Remove the frame and discard. Lay the piece of salmon skin side down on your board and using your boning knife parallel to the board take off the skin. Make sure there are no pin bones remaining. If so, take your needle nose pliers, yes the ones in your secret kitchen drawer not those in the garage, and take them out. Rinse the fish to make sure there are no bones or scales.
Dry it, place each piece so that they fit together in a circle (oval) and wrap the skinny pieces around. Secure with 2 toothpicks. Season, grill or bake. Of course, remove the toothpicks before serving.
I like to season first with olive oil, salt and pepper, and one of my favorite preparations is just slathering one side with whole grain mustard and baking it or cooking it on a closed grill just ’til done, about eight minutes for medium rare.
This is what I would do if the fillets in the fish case look old and the salmon steaks are fresh. And while there will never be a third first date with Anonymous, if the Prince and I go to dinner and I’m faced with a salmon steak, I know exactly where the bones are and how to eat it… delicately. Ask your butcher about knife sharpening. Get good knives – they’ll last a lifetime. As Jacques Pepin would say, Happy Cooking! Dee