Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Extreme Kitchen Makeover (Cooking With Amy)

Today is Wednesday, and that means only one thing: Cooking With Amy! Only, we won't be cooking. We'll be reminiscing and planning because I don't have a food element today. This photo was taken in my kitchen, which is on the brink of getting a redo. This large wall showcases the handiwork of Caprice, who took the time (and my beverages and my spaghetti) to paint these immortal words of J.R.R. Tolkien on this large wall at least five years ago: "If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world."

And unless I can find a painter who has the skill to paint the new color (a nice grey) around each letter and comma, these words will be painted over and replaced with another visual, or perhaps another quote, depending on Caprice's mood and the food and drink I have available.

I've gathered some possibilities:
• "If people take the trouble to cook, you should take the trouble to eat." —Robert Morley (the English actor who is described on as having a "portly frame, double chin and perpetual look of pop-eyed surprise"; I'll follow his guidance any day!)
• "He who distinguishes the true savor of his food can never be a glutton; he who does not cannot be otherwise." —Henry David Thoreau (Say WHA? Muse or no muse, HDT spent WAY too much time skulking around Walden. He came out talking jibberish. Probably hungry for some chili and tater tots.)
• "In general, mankind, since the improvement of cookery, eats twice as much as nature requires." —Benjamin Franklin (without whom we wouldn't have the Franklin stove or the electricity to power the microwave oven, George Foreman Grill, electric frying pan, Crock Pot and toaster. Thanks, big, fat Ben Franklin!)
• "There is no sight on earth more appealing than the sight of a woman making dinner for someone she loves." —Thomas Wolfe (who never married but did have a long-time affair with a married woman—figures)

So the story of the original mural goes ... all the menfolk went out of town and left us on our own with a bunch of girl-kids.
"What to do! What to do!"
"Let's paint my wall."
"Let's eat!"
We found a way to do both. While Caprice balanced on a stepladder and yelled at everyone to "knock it off!" because they were making too much noise, I served up a mighty fine meal of homemade spaghetti.

She took a break and helped herself to two of the most tremendous plates of food I've ever seen and then had the brass to say, "I don't really like that bacon spaghetti." Well, I don't really like your attitude, you piece of ...

Oh, wait! There is a food element to this post after all! Here's the recipe for ...

That Bacon Spaghetti

(serves a freakin' ARMY)

bacon (doesn't matter how many slices; maybe 6? 8?; keep the grease; you'll see why in a minute)
fresh mushrooms, sliced
onion, diced
hamburger meat (OR, for you vegans out there, use those vegetable meatless crumbles; nobody has to know; my own FAMILY doesn't know that I used this substitution last time; until now)
canned tomatoes (like, maybe, two of those huge cans? these can be stewed, whole or diced; I don't really care what you use)
tomato puree (a small can will do; my mother insists this is the secret ingredient; don't know how, since it's available in most major supermarkets)
1-2 T. sugar
salt (you decide how much)
pepper (you get to decide again)

I don't get bogged down in measurements or quantity, so you shouldn't either. Make as much or as little as you want. Just cook the hamburger meat (or fake meat) in a separate pan. If you use real meat, DON'T DRAIN IT. You'll kill off all the grease, which serves as a digestive lubricant. This is another of my mother's "secret" tips to perfect spaghetti -- keep the grease. Pour in the tomatoes and tomato puree (but don't tell anyone!) and the sugar.

In a frying pan, fry the bacon. Take the cooked bacon out to drain. (Don't know why; you're about to dump a boatload of grease into the sauce, so a few drops of grease from the actual bacon shouldn't make a difference.) Turn the remaining bacon grease down to "low," and add the diced onions and mushrooms. Cook until the onions are transparent. Then dump the whole darn thing into the sauce mix. Crumble the bacon, and toss the pieces into the sauce. Cook until it looks like sauce.

Somewhere in there, you should be making your pasta. As much or as little as you want. Mmm-mmmm good....

Footnote: Please note the added feature over to the left, My Filthy House. Every couple of days, I will exhibit a different piece of evidence of the filth and disarray that is my home. I promise not to stage anything, but will capture only actual problems that go unnoticed by the people I live with.