By Hook or By Cook

I don’t cook. Oh, I have my go-to meals, like lemon chicken, fried chicken, cinnamon-cumin-apple chicken, chicken soup, and shrimp scampi. You know how they say male balding skips a generation? In my family, so does the cooking gene. At almost 84, my mother still cooks, most notably and recently, her family-famous pineapple upside-down cake. But I take after my grandmother Jeanette, whose culinary repertoire was limited to beef brisket, bean-and-barley soup, and…shrimp scampi. My father was an amazing cook, and during the years of my first marriage, when I truly believed there was a legitimate reason to turn our functional kitchen into a chef’s paradise, I’d invite him and Mom over to try a new dish. Serving Dad was absolutely like a TV reality cook-off. I’d sweat the preparation, plate creatively, and wait.

“It’s palatable,” he’d say rather unaffectedly. Then he’d wink.

Okay, so maybe I’m more accurately not-much-of-a cook, which was never clearer to me than when I moved to Bucks County with my now-husband, the father of two girls who were vegetarian. No more throwing a trussed-up bird into a pot with vegetables – and walking away. I was slowly slicing, dangerously dicing, and making a mess of tofu. It pained my husband to watch me struggle, so I handed the spatula over to him. But now, in our empty nest, it’s back to chicken.

As stated earlier, I do okay with chicken – except a few weeks ago when we decided to throw a dinner party. I excavated a yellowed recipe card for Spanish Chicken with Chorizo, which I’d prepared countless times in my old life. But, alas I was rusty, and where the recipe calls for red wine before simmering, all I had was a Burgundy. When I lifted the lid 45 minutes later, what was usually a well-browned chicken accented with vibrant red from the tomatoes and chorizo, was a purple mess, looking like something Grover from Sesame Street had coughed up. This weekend we are, again, entertaining two of those friends, and while deciding what to prepare, my husband said, “Well, how about something blue this time?”


Me in my Mary Kay face. Did I write that out loud?

Me in my Mary Kay face. Did I write that out loud?

Anyway, March is National Women’s History Month. I did some research to see if any prominent women were known for a particular recipe. Like Eleanor Roosevelt’s ravioli or Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s soufflé. All I found was a YouTube video from a 2006 Stephen Colbert interview with Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem, conducted while the women did their best to bake an apple pie. (Jane didn’t add enough cinnamon.)

So this month celebrate the woman who makes your life historic…epic! And while Jane and Gloria might frown if they read this, take her out for a nice dinner.


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