|Paul's serving bowl of Shepherd's Stew- compared to John's more reasonable portion. Shepherd's Stew= a thick venison stew with onions, english peas and carrots served over mashed potatoes. Garlic drop biscuits on the side.|
My Mom-in-law was never known for her cooking efforts or skills. It just wasn't her thing. I don't recall her ever saying she disliked it. But I do recall that everything was cooked at the highest heat attainable on a gas range and the oven was used as dish storage. When Will and I married, she soon realized that I enjoyed cooking and did so on a regular basis. I've never been into froo-frooery and so a fancy cook I'm not. But I try real hard to make sure no one pushes away from the table hungry. I think she was impressed with my skills because I soon heard her say, "Nina is such a good cook! She boils vegetables!" And if you knew my mother-in-law, you'd know that if she said something once, she said it a hundred times. Upon her announcement of my stellar accomplishment of boiled vegetables, people would ohhh and ahhh... and give me the strangest looks. It was awkward as I haven't any idea what they were thinking. "How does boiling vegetables make her a good cook?" "Is this some kind of family joke?" After a couple years of this strange compliment, when it just didn't die away, I asked her to refrain, stating that she was easily pleased and other folks may not comprehend the depth of her affection for my "boiled vegetables." Within a few more years, she felt brave enough to attempt boiling vegetables under my watchful tutelage. Put potatoes, onions, carrots, and cabbage wedges into a big pot. Cover with water, sock the lid on and boil. Salt and pepper to taste, add butter and voila! Boiled vegetables! Youda thought she'd created a culinary masterpiece! "I always wondered how you made the soupy part!" Yep, secret ingredient- water. Kinda crucial when ya boil things. And I will never forget how she treasured that "soupy part." She would recycle that stuff for a week- boiling other vegetables, like green beans in it! (But I'm proud to say I have never boiled a green bean- it's already quite dead and it seems just plain cruel to torture it further. In WV, we cook our beans until they are "dry" with a little chopped onion and garlic and, if you're feeling froo-frooey, bacon grease.)
So, today, I boiled vegetables. Made me smile and weepy all at the same time. It was quite tasty- glad to know I haven't lost my gourmet touch!