January 30, 2006

Recipe #1

On Saturday, I tried my first recipe. Well, I wouldn't say it was my first recipe but rather, my first REAL recipe. I've made other things before but this was the first time I used spices that I never knew existed, with wine, and other "neat" ingredients. I made a beef brisket, and it took me about 6 hours of cooking, including the preparation time.

My entire condo smells like garlic. I used 6 cloves and had my brother mince them while I cut thinly sliced 6 onions. I was quite worried about the onions, figuring that after I got through 2 of them I would bawling and unable to continue. So we went on the web to look for tricks on how to avoid the tears. Some of the ideas were absolutely hilarious:

  • Use a sharp knife. A dull knife will crush the onion cells more than clearnly slicing sharp blade, and the curshed cells will release more of th edeadly spray into the atmosphere.
  • Hold a wooden matchstick between your teeth -- match head out The theory is that the match head attracks and absorbs all the bad chemicals
  • Hold a piece of bread between your teeth
  • Hold a piece of bread in your mouth and chew occasionally
  • Breathe only through your mouth. This may be combined with the bread in mouth too.
  • Don't chop the onion root -- or do it last
  • Keep the outer skin on the onion as long as possible
  • Wear contact lenses to shield eye surface from airborne spray
  • Chop the onion under water or under running water, or pre-soak in water
  • Wear swim goggles or a diving mask
  • Use a fan to blow away or suck up the fumes
  • Place onions in the freezer for 20 minutes before cutting
  • Put white vinigar on the chopping block to neutralize chemicals
  • Burn a candle near the work area
  • Place the cutting board next to a gas range and turn on a burner or two
  • Using a knife, cut a cone out of the bottom of the onion (where the roots come out). The diameter of this cone should be about a third of the diameter of the onion, and about 1/3 deep. This piece contains the part/gland that makes baby Jesus and everyone else in the room cry when you’re chopping it up.

  • It's funny how people have so many ideas. Cutting under water makes no sense -- how do you control it? It would take too long. Vinegar makes it smell worse. The frozen idea makes it difficult to cut the onion. Anyway, the one that seemed to make the most sense was the one you do it next to a fire. Candles most certainly do work, but I didn't have any. I left one burner on (I have an electric stove), while placing a match between my lips. It was hard to breathe through my mouth with that thing sticking out. I turned on the oventop fan. And I cut, 6 onions, slicing thin slices of 1/2 cm each, WITH the grain, WITH a very sharp knife and, without shedding a single tear.

    As for the rest of the recipe, instead of a dry wine, I decided to go with a very sweet wine (I like sweeter meat). Instead of sprigs of thyme (I mean honestly.. sprigs?!), I used regular thyme.

    And.. it turned out AMAZING. It was delicious.

    I cut a few slices to bring to Eric/Nicole's place for hot pot on Saturday, and then my brother and I had it again on Sunday night for Chinese New Year dinner. I bought some crown broccoli, and we boiled it in salt, and then melted Edam cheese on it. We each had a large dinner roll and then several slices of the brisket. It was a pretty good meal :)


    On a side note, I don't understand what cooking means. If you follow a recipe, is that cooking? If I look at cooking as a means to getting food and nutrients into my mouth, then it is really easy. It doesn't take a well-trained person to follow a recipe. All you need is time and the ability to read. Money helps. Did I really cook that brisket? Or did I instead, follow the instructions on a piece of paper. Does this mean that when someone says "That guy is a great cook", what it really means is "That guy is great at following instructions." And who really knows this? What if I told you that I didn't have a recipe and that I made that thing on my own, using my own instincts, chose the ingredients out of the blue and made the thing all on my own, no help of any form of instruction. Does that make me a better cook? What if I read every recipe book out there and memorize them all? Am I then a good cook, or a great instruction carry-out-er?

    Friend: Brian, can you cook?
    Brian: Yes, I can follow directions.
    Friend: ...
    Brian: It's the same thing isn't it?
    Friend: ...well...

    No comments: