Real Cooking

In a short time, this column will reach its two-year anniversary. I hope the column has kept you abreast of useful food handling information coupled with a few new recipes and perhaps a laugh or two.

When the Free Press folks and I first discussed the possibility of a “cooking ” column, I told them I didn’t want to write a weekly catalog of cooking hints and recipes. After all, I argued, one can pick up any so-called woman’s magazine and get that kind of information ad nauseum.

So we came up with an idea for a column that would be comprised of my ramblings about family, friends and food. And since it would run on the Opinion page, I guess that opened the door for me to run amok with anything I needed to get off my chest.

That said, I want to address a letter I received some time ago. One person-writing anonymously, of course-stated how disappointed the writer was that I didn’t include weekly cooking tips in my column. Well… wanting not to disappoint, I will now pass on to my readers a valuable cooking hint that I have personally found to be quite valid.

“Never, never lean into a hot oven if you don’t have any clothes on.”

OK, now if you’re the writer of the anonymous letter, you can quit reading here. I know you’re probably not interested in the rest of the story anyhow, but I feel I must warn you that if you choose to continue, the following story does include body parts….

But for the rest of you, here goes.

It wasn’t too long ago that I was up late in the night baking bread for a function I was helping to coordinate. It was sometime after midnight when I slipped the last sheet of dinner rolls into the oven. As I set the oven’s timer, I realized I had just enough time to get in a quick shower before the buzzer rang.

I decided the best shower to use would be the one in the utility room that’s located near the kitchen. That way, I would be able to reach the bread in time and also not disturb the rest of my family, who lay fast asleep in the back of the house.

The hot water felt great as I shed the day’s grime. As I stepped from the shower, I heard the buzzer sounding. Quickly, I opened one of the drawers where the towels are kept. I reached in and found…nothing. I opened the second drawer and looked into an empty space.

In the third drawer I found a washcloth and a hand towel. Grabbing the small towel, I wiped the water off of my face and patting my hair dry, I trotted into the kitchen to save the pan of rolls from burning.

“What a predicament,” I thought to myself as I reached the kitchen. Although my family isn’t too shy about walking around in various shades of undress, we never lounge around totally in the buff. I took a quick look down the hall to make sure I was alone. The coast was clear.

I grabbed a hot pad and opened the oven door. I stooped in to snatch the rolls from the hot oven. I felt my flesh singeing. Flesh that’s located on a delicate part of the female anatomy. I couldn’t believe it. How was I ever to explain this one?

Over the next couple of days I resorted to wearing loose T-shirts and nothing else on my upper torso. Well, around the house, that is. I did wear a-wait, can I say the word “bra” and not get letters? I’m not sure.

Let me start that thought over. When going out into the public arena, I did wear the appropriate undergarment so as not to scare small children.

I am all-better now. I have no lasting scars; formal medical treatment was not needed. But a valuable lesson was learned. And now, as a public service, I pass this hard earned knowledge on to you.

I repeat: “Never, never lean into a hot oven if you have no clothes on.” That is, if you are a woman. With more that an A cup.

Come to think of it, that might apply to some men, too.

* * *

Saturday morning will find me at the Doyle Valley Farmer’s Market in Peabody. I’ve been asked to give a cooking demonstration using products that can be found at the market. We should have a lot of fun because I’m bringing Melissa Bartel along to show some different recipes that can be made on the grill. Both Melissa and I will be available to answer cooking questions you might have.

I might talk a few others into coming along, so you might get a chance to see some of the people I write about in the flesh.

I’m looking forward to meeting you there.

* * *

It’s about tomato time, so here’s a great recipe for a tomato dip that we’ve already enjoyed this summer.

Bacon Tomato Dip

1 lb. bacon, cooked crisp and drained

3 large tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 cup mayonnaise

1 Tbs. dijon mustard

2 Tbs. minced green onion

2 Tbs. minced fresh parsley

3 drops tabasco sauce

Ground pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients in a food processor and process until chopped but not pureed. Serve with fresh vegetables or crackers. Makes about two cups.

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