The Green Fan

One apartment. Five roommates. Countless stories.

Thursday, November 02, 2006

BAM!! Cooking With Sheila

More excerpts from letters from Sheila (newly married) to Sherry (engaged and living in Papua New Guinea):

I'll have to give you all my good recepies. Recepies--ha! More like TRICKS in the kitchen. Here's a few--so you can practice, ya know.

RICE--of course, you must get a rice cooker. It's essential. Makes perfect rice and all you do is plug the thing in. Then you serve it with any meat thing for a "cooked" meal.

No mention of fruits or vegetables here. I'm hoping your idea of a balanced meal has evolved a little over the years.

CHICKEN--always keep some in the old freezer. I buy those quart freezer bags, and freeze them in two-serving portions. Then you pop those in the oven and leave 'em til they are cooked! Dunk it in egg and breadcrumbs for crunchy breaded chicken. Cover it with some BBQ sauce. Put some potatoes and carrots in there. You can do almost anything with chicken!

The enthusiasm is really running high here.

Here's a good thing--CASSEROLES! Put some uncooked rice and raw chicken in a dish. Cover it with cream of anything soup and a bunch of water. Cover and cook at 350 for about 1/2 hour or until the rice is all tender. Serve! (Perfect for those "I didn't think you could cook" comebacks)

I'm loving your simplicity here.

And now, two more essential tips to close us out:

BARBEQUE--so you don't have to cook! Guys love the fact that girls can't do charcoal (and if you can, LIE!).

And finally, always keep a box of instant chocolate pudding on hand. Makes up in five minutes, and IT MAKES FOUR SERVINGS!!! Dessert for two nights--yes!

Believe it or not, Sheila, I actually needed to hear some of these tips again. Sometimes cooking for my family seems like such a daunting task, and it was good to be reminded again of just how easy it can be, if some basic supplies are on hand.

You were totally ahead of your time here, when you wrote this. You sound like a transcript of a cooking for dummies show on the Food Network. How many exclamation points did you manage to work in there? I'm thinking at least two per paragraph--and the funniest thing is, I formatted the paragraphs myself here. The way you wrote it, it was all one big paragraph, no formatting, just a huge jumble of run-on thoughts about cooking. The original letter reads about a hundred miles an hour.

I love it.

Thanks for writing to me while I was overseas, Sheila. Those letters went a long way for a lonely, completely overwhelmed girl, adjusting to a new and incredibly dangerous environment (give me inner city L.A. any day) and a new language (which we were given two weeks to learn), in addition to student teaching (fortunately, I could teach in English), working under three different master teachers from three different countries (none from the U.S.), no textbooks and a very small library, teaching subjects I'd never even studied (Modern Chinese History??), and brooding with the insecurity of not knowing if the ring on my finger would still mean anything when I got home. Yes, it was a great experience, and I am grateful to have had it, but it was very difficult, too. These letters were a welcome diversion.