Thursday, May 29, 2008

The Devil You Know

When I complain about something, I have a friend that often reminds me that the devil you know is better than the devil you don't. It's become clear to me during the course of my mother's stay that this saying should absolutely be taken as gospel. As some of you longtime readers may recall, my mother's last visit was during the Christmas holiday, just a few months after this blog began. I had yet to convince her of my abilities in the kitchen, and was offering to make her food at all hours of the day in order to prove myself. She generally turned down my offers of homemade cuisine in favor of the supermarket's generic three-for-a-dollar ramen. During the course of that last two week visit, I persisted and slowly managed to make her a few of her favorite dishes.

I started with bok choy, her favorite green that just happens to be notoriously difficult to find in Spain (I'm always thinking). She loved it and seemed impressed. Christmas Eve came a few days later and she suggested that I make us Cornish game hens like the ones I'd blogged about a few weeks before. And...maybe I could make us some potatoes? And even better, she said, I could cook up the asparagus I'd been boasting about as an additional side dish to round out the meal. Blind sighted by ego and opportunity, I naively jumped at the chance to prove not only my culinary prowess, but my awesome multitasking abilities in the kitchen. The meal went off without a hitch and we both ate every bite on our plate, plus seconds.

Needless to say, the days of anticipating my mother's visits and the hope for a homemade meal made lovingly by her are long gone. My much complained about deli runs for ramen and Coca-cola are a thing of the past. How I could at one point in time have found her simple requests to be a burden is now unfathomable. I've dug myself a hole so deep they might as well fill it with water and call it a public pool. This has been made clear in that not only has she yet to make me a meal, but has suggested--nay, demanded--that I make dinner nearly every night. Last night, while I went from work to a volleyball game, she informed me that a Cornish game hen had been defrosted for me to prepare as the next night's dinner. I was on the verge of pointing out that I had yet to be on the receiving end of a home cooked meal (made by someone other than myself), but flattery and my ego took hold the moment she said how much she'd loved the Christmas meal I'd made.

So, I did it. I cooked the hen, roasted the asparagus, and made her favorite tomato and onion salad to boot (all in 45 minutes, I might add). I must admit that I love cooking for others and seeing them enjoy the food that I worked so hard to make. And although I complain, this case is no different. In fact, it's bolstered by the pride I see in my mother's eyes every time I make her a wonderful meal. After all, I spent all these years seeking her culinary approval, so I should relish in it. This doesn't mean I'll stop trying to get a hearty meal out of her before she leaves, but I will start appreciating the time I can spend nourishing her as she did for me. Here's the delicious and quick glaze that I used on the hens, which works easily for a roast chicken or duck.

Honey-Vinegar Poultry Glaze

3 Tbsp red wine vinegar
3 Tbsp olive oil
3 Tbsp honey
1 tsp fennel seed
1/2 tsp paprika
1 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp thyme
1/4 tsp coriander seed

1. Pound spices in a mortar and pestle or spice grinder until finely ground.

2. Combine vinegar, oil, honey and spice mixture in a small saucepan over medium heat until reduced to a syrupy glaze. Apply half of the glaze to your roast and use the rest to baste. Enjoy!


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