Bobby has something to say about why you should know how to cook.
Adventures in the Kitchen
It’s a late spring morning in west-central Indiana. Dawn has long passed, but it is still early and not yet full light. The shrill call of a male cardinal can be heard in the nearby grove of old growth oak trees, and the stream bubbles merrily in the rapids next to our camp site. The few remaining glowing coals of last night’s fire have been coaxed to life, and a well-seasoned cast iron skillet is heating up over the fast burning flames of dry pine.
It’s far from our first trip of this type, but instead of the usual dry cereal, breakfast for our adventurers is going to be a pleasant surprise, at least for my intrepid bow-paddler.
The year is 1977, and my best friend Bob Moore, and I have taken advantage of a long weekend from our junior year of high-school to float my canoe down Raccoon Creek, from the small hamlet of Bridgeton, to its confluence with the Wabash River, then downstream to our home in Terre Haute. On this, the morning after our first night out, I am kneeling by a streamside fire, preparing bacon and eggs, Bob laughingly saying “I want them eggs ‘lookin’ at me”. This was my very first attempt at pleasing a friend with my new-found cooking skills, and the beginning of my efforts at becoming an accomplished man. Little did I know that, almost 35 years later, I would be called upon to expand and expound on those days in a cogent fashion, assisting and guiding those who came after.
The philosophy here at Man Up the Magazine is that the accomplished man is comfortable in the kitchen, whether it’s an open wood burning fire, or a six-burner commercial grade range. This does not mean you are a chef, a gourmet, a gourmand, or even a good cook. It DOES mean you are comfortable enough to get around without creating a disaster. If you are single, you should be able to fend for yourself without resorting to going out for every meal, having a pizza delivered, or eating a frozen dinner. If you are dating someone on whom you would like to make an impression, it means that you can prepare a meal for your companion, and maybe astound them with your culinary skills. If you are married, ESPECIALLY if you’re married and have children, and your wife works outside the home, then you should MAN UP and do your share of the cooking.
In many ways I consider myself fortunate to have been raised by a single mother. One of the important aspects of such a life was learning to be independent and manage daily housekeeping responsibilities. While I was growing up, Mom worked the night shift at Columbia Records, and I quickly discovered that when I wanted a hot meal, I needed be able to prepare it myself. In the beginning, I found this daunting and rose reluctantly to the task. My father, although not with us, believed that cooking is woman’s work, and, at that time in my life, I still believed everything my father believed. One evening, after school, I happened to visit the neighbor couple who had been my first babysitters when we moved to town. Larry, who had become somewhat of a surrogate big brother, was standing at the stove putting herbs in a pot of spaghetti sauce. After my laughter died down, I asked what he was doing, and the lessons began there. That night, and for many thereafter, I learned that cooking is cool, and lots of guys do it.
Today, three wives later, I’m still the cook at my house. Oh sure, I allow my lovely bride to occasionally make toast, or pour a bowl of cereal, but when it comes to fixing an actual meal, the kitchen is my domain, and I am king. I often consult her, asking advice regarding what she would enjoy for dinner, but the actual preparation is all me. The kitchen is where I go to relax and unwind, and the sharing of a good meal with friends and family is one of life’s greatest pleasures.
Ok, at this point, we are going assume you’re not completely convinced, but ready to give it a try, and wondering where to start. You want to help, you look around the kitchen at all the gadgets and gizmos and you don’t know what many of them do. Hell, you’re not even sure what you want to make! Put your mind at ease my friends, we are here to help and we are not from the government.
First, we should differentiate what we think of as “cooking” from “baking”. I consider myself a reasonably talented cook, but I am far from a baker. Baking is more of an exact science, where as cooking can be a little more unconventional, allowing one the freedom to be more creative. Most of the cooking we will be discussing will take place on the stove top, rather than in the oven, although the oven will be used from time to time. We plan to discuss complete meals, rather than produce baked goods, such as breads; cakes; pies, or cookies. So, if during your kitchen exploration you’ve encountered a muffin tin, we most likely will not be using it.
Secondly, we hope you approach this adventure with an open mind. Your time in the kitchen with us will be fun, as long as you want it to be, and the recipes we plan on sharing will delight your palate, as well as your guests.
It’s March, its cold, football is over, hockey is in full swing, March Madness is fast upon us, and those NASCAR people are back making left turns. For those whose interests focus on the outdoors, rather than being a spectator, conditions have been great for skiing and snowmobiling. We’re going to open our premier issue with a recipe for White Chicken Chile. This one-pot dish is a crowd pleaser, whether you’re serving it at a Final-Four party, or need something to warm a crowd after a day on the slopes. So, follow along with us, get next to the stove, grab a pot and a spatula, MAN UP, and enjoy some Adventures in the Kitchen.
Click the eggs for Bobby's recipe