I’ve written before about my mother’s cooking — and will again, I’d wager — but this time I want to talk about my own cooking. Laurie is such a confident and wonderful cook that these days I rarely have the nerve or the need to do my own cooking. But when I was a kid, I enjoyed cooking for myself, generally making weekend breakfasts and lunches. Mom was there to encourage and guide me if I needed encouragement and guidance, but mostly I just put together what sounded good.
If I’ve given you the idea that I was some sort of child genius, a Mozart of the kitchen, I have badly misled you. Most of my ingredients were canned or frozen. And it never entered my mind that I would feed the resulting dishes to anybody else.
Some Saturdays I would start by scrambling a few eggs and then add whatever meat and vegetables I could find in the fridge. Meat ran to bacon, cold cuts and leftover hamburger; when I say vegetables, I mean onions — green, white, red, whatever.
But the really good part of this nutritious breakfast was the Van de Kamp’s enchilada. Your first response might well be to ask what a company called Van de Kamp knew about Mexican food and you would be right to ask. The enchiladas that company made were nowhere near authentic, but they were full of cheese andonions and black olives and I loved them for themselves, not because they reminded me of actual food from Mexico. Each came frozen in an aluminum tray — this was before microwave ovens — and after about 20 minutes in the oven, it was swimming in a delicious sauce that was also really good on the scrambled eggs.
Lunch was generally something called chip steak. I don’t know what it really was, but it looked like very thinly sliced bits of meat (beef? Who knows?) that I would fry up and slap on a piece of toast along with more catsup than a human should eat at one sitting. The sandwich was always cut from corner to corner, so that I had four triangles. Serve with olives of any color and/or pickles.
Both of these gourmet dishes were delish. Or they were when I was in high school. I haven’t actually eaten anything like chip steak or Van de Kamp’s enchiladas in many years. I think about it sometimes, but the salt and fat content slows me down. Plus the fact that I haven’t been able to find either one of these prepared foods in my local supermarkets despite desperate searching.
So I guess I’m just stuck with the food that Laurie prepares. Sigh. Some guys have it tough.